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The Importance of Being Earnest: Teacher Guide and Activity

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Grade Level Grade 8
Resource Type Activity, Lesson Plan, Media
Standards Alignment
Common Core State Standards

About This Lesson

The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, is a comedy about social class, gender roles, mistaken identities, love and marriage, and identity. The play focuses on the lives of two wealthy gentlemen who create double lives for themselves to avoid certain social obligations. Wilde’s play encourages audiences to think about a wide range of issues, particularly ideas surrounding wealth and privilege, duty and obligation, respectability, and personal identity. By poking fun at Victorian society, Wilde exposes its weaknesses.

Students will read an abridged version of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. Wilde (1854–1900) was born in Dublin, Ireland and became one of the most successful playwrights of the Victorian era. His work is known for its wit and humorous wordplay, as well as its satirical comments on upper-class Victorian life.

Students will not only enjoy the play’s clever humor and wordplay, but they will also critically consider how the rules of society create—and constrain—one’s sense of self. They will explore and analyze The Importance of Being Earnest as an example of dramatic writing, examining the text’s use of characterization, themes, and wit.

In this unit, students will write and publish a short play, work on grammar skills involving voice and mood, and study the Greek and Latin roots salis, sophos, sonus, and caput.

Resources

Files

The Importance of Being Earnest Reader.pdf

Media
January 24, 2024
2.25 MB

The Importance of Being Earnest TeacherGuide.pdf

Lesson Plan
January 24, 2024
2.8 MB

The Importance of Being Earnest ActivityBook.pdf

Activity
January 24, 2024
2.06 MB

Standards

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.
Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from the text or script, evaluating the choices made by the director or actors.
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, and reflection, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence, signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another, and show the relationships among experiences and events.
Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.
Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
Follow rules for collegial discussions and decision-making, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.
Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas.
Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented.
Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Form and use verbs in the active and passive voice.
Form and use verbs in the indicative, imperative, interrogative, conditional, and subjunctive mood.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
Use punctuation (comma, ellipsis, dash) to indicate a pause or break.
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases based on grade 8 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
Use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., precede, recede, secede).
Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech.
Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Interpret figures of speech (e.g., verbal irony, puns) in context.
Use the relationship between particular words to better understand each of the words.
Distinguish among the connotations (associations) of words with similar denotations (definitions) (e.g., bullheaded, willful, firm, persistent, resolute).
Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

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