Oedipus Rex Unit
Unit Concepts and Generalizations:
Tragedy (main concept), tragic hero, foil, motif, diction, irony
o Tragedy generates suspense not in the events of the story (plot) but in the reaction of the characters.
o Tragedy survives as an art form because it allows us to learn from the mistakes of others.
o The Aristotlean definition of tragedy provides a structural template which later authors borrow from and
Are we creatures of fate or of free will?
What makes a good leader?
Are we capable of seeing our own lives objectively?
As a result of this unit, students will know
Vocabulary related to tragedy, including tragic hero, noble birth, noble character, tragic flaw, reversal, foil character,
hubris, dynamic character, static character, motif, theme, and dramatic irony.
Aristotle’s definition of tragedy as drama that inspires “pity and fear.”
The historical and cultural context that led to the development of classical drama.
As a result of this unit, students will understand that
Tragedy generates suspense not in the events of the story (plot) but in the reaction of the characters.
Tragedy survives as an art form because it allows us to learn from the mistakes of others.
The Aristotlean definition of tragedy provides a structural template which later authors borrow from and allude to.
As a result of this unit, students will be able to
Read and interpret classical literary and critical texts, using reading skills to monitor and “fix up” their own
Recognize and interpret patterns of word choice, or diction, as they apply to:
o Development of motif.
o Development of theme.
o Development of mood.
Identify, interpret and evaluate diction in several monologues from Oedipus Rex.
Identify a foil character and analyze the effect of this character on the characterization of the tragic hero.
Analyze the development of a motif in the play and create an image representing the development of the motif.
Instructional Strategies Used
Pretest and Post-test Flexible Grouping Rubric assessment
Think-Alouds Tiered Assignments Double-entry journals
Cloze Notes for Lecture Anchor Activities
Graphic Organizers Mini-lessons
Activity Description Approx. English Technology Bloom’s 21st Differentiation
Time SCOS SCOS Century
Pretest 1 hour Results of assessment
Students complete the Unit Pretest, which will be used to group
assesses their knowledge of the vocabulary for students by
this unit, cultural knowledge about classical readiness, as in the
Greece, and ability to read and respond to a following
significant passage from the text of Oedipus introductory
Teacher Think-Aloud – Excerpt from 15 1.02 Students with the
Aristotle’s Poetics minutes 4.03 highest level of
Teacher uses the think-aloud strategy with the 4.05 readiness, as
first section of Aristotle’s Poetics to model the 5.01 identified in the
use of summarization and determining 5.02 pretest and MAP
importance as reading skills. Following a 5.03 data, rotate through
discussion of the steps of summarization this center.
process (decide what to keep, what to replace,
and what to throw away), teacher may choose
to pass out bookmarks (Summarization
Bookmarks.pub) to students as a resource to
use as they read.
Teacher Think-Aloud – “Private Horror Made 15 1.02 Students with a
Public” minutes 4.03 median level of
Teacher uses the think-aloud strategy with the 4.05 readiness, as
first section of the article (available at 5.01 identified in the
http://theater2.nytimes.com/mem/theater/tr 5.02 pretest and MAP
eview.html?html_title=&tols_title=OEDIPUS% 5.03 data, rotate through
20REX%20(PLAY)&pdate=20001006&byline=B this center.
to model the use of summarization and
determining importance as reading skills.
Following a discussion of the steps of
summarization process (decide what to keep,
what to replace, and what to throw away),
teacher may choose to pass out bookmarks
(Summarization Bookmarks.pub) to students
as a resource to use as they read.
Teacher Think-Aloud – “The Oedipal Anguish 15 1.02 Students with a lower
Illuminates the Darkness” minutes 4.03 level of readiness, as
Teacher uses the think-aloud strategy with the 4.05 identified in the
first section of the article (available at 5.01 pretest and MAP
http://theater2.nytimes.com/2005/06/14/the 5.02 data, rotate through
ater/reviews/14oedi.html ) to model the use 5.03 this center.
of summarization and determining importance
as reading skills. Following a discussion of the
steps of summarization process (decide what
to keep, what to replace, and what to throw
away), teacher may choose to pass out
bookmarks (Summarization Bookmarks.pub)
to students as a resource to use as they read.
Group Think-Aloud 20 1.02 Students complete
Students work in small groups, using minutes 4.03 this assignment for
bookmarks as reference, to summarize and 4.05 their assigned text.
annotate additional sections of the Poetics or 5.01
the two articles from the New York Times. 5.02
Note: “Theater by the Blind Fashions Its 5.03
r/newsandfeatures/11blin.html ) may be used
for this section after students in the third
group finish “The Oedipal Anguish Illuminates
Study Guides for Texts HW 1.02 Students complete
Students finish reading their assigned text for 4.03 this assignment for
homework, using the appropriate study guide 4.05 their assigned text.
to take notes. 5.01
Oedipus Rex Background Notes 35 1.02 All students rotate
Students fill in cloze notes on a PowerPoint minutes 1.03 through this center.
lecture providing background on Greek 4.01
theatre and tragedy. 5.01
Mnemonic Device Activity 35 5.01 All students rotate
Students work in groups to interpret a minutes through this center.
mnemonic device, develop their own Students take notes
mnemonic devices for remembering the four on each others’
characteristics of a tragic hero, and present mnemonic devices on
their devices to the class. the Mnemonic
Devices note sheet,
then choose the one
that works best for
Reading Log Discussions 20-30 1.02 The Reading Log
Students generate a Reading Log (double- minutes a 1.03 template allows
entry journal) for each night’s reading day 3.03 students to complete
assignment, selecting relevant quotes from 4.02 Reading Logs on
the text and reflecting on their importance. 5.01 laptops and includes
Class discussions, in which students share the 5.03 guidelines for
quotes they selected and their rationale for selecting and
choosing them, are a daily focal point. responding to
Oedipus Journals 15 1.02 Journal Sentence
Students respond to journal prompts focusing minutes a 1.03 Starters list can help
on issues related to the text. day 3.01 students “get
3.04 started” if they’re
4.01 having trouble.
Writing Bingo (Anchor Activity) 30 1.02 This assignment
Students must choose five of the writing minutes 1.03 differentiates by
activities to complete, spelling BINGO on their 5.01 student interest.
cards, initialed by the teacher. Writing 5.02
assignments require students to write for 5.03
different audiences, contexts, and purposes. 6.01
Students may work on anchor activities when 6.02
they have completed other assignments.
Conventions Mini-Lessons 15 5.03
Using examples from Oedipus Rex, students minutes a 6.01
practice rules for pronoun agreement (easily day 6.02
adapted for other conventions issues).
Vocabulary Mapping Activity 35 Students may be
Given example sentences from the text of the minutes grouped by readiness
play, students work in groups to generate for this activity and
word maps and definitions for one of the assigned words of
vocabulary words, using context clues and varying complexity.
word parts. Students present their word maps
and definitions to the class.
Oedipus Quiz 1 15 5.01
This quiz focuses on basic recall information minutes 5.03
about the play from the lecture and reading -
playwright, Aristotle’s Poetics, character
names, themes, etc.
“Say Something” Mini-Lesson 30 1.02 Reading logs and
Teacher models the “Say Something” strategy minutes 3.03 quizzes may be used
using one of the choral odes from Oedipus 5.01 to determine which
Rex, focusing on summarizing the selected 5.03 students need this
text. Students pair with a partner to read a minilesson; others
second choral ode, recording their “Say may work on an
Somethings” in the margins. anchor activity.
Confusion Mini-Lesson 30 1.02 Reading logs and
Give each student a pack of Post-Its and ask minutes 3.03 quizzes may be used
them to mark places in the text where they 5.01 to determine which
got confused (or parts they didn’t understand) 5.03 students need this
as they read last night (if they didn’t get minilesson; others
confused, ask them to look for places they may work on an
think their classmates might get confused). anchor activity.
Ask students to write a note explaining their
confusion on the Post-It. Record points of
confusion, listing page numbers and reasons
for confusion. Introduce “chunking” (reading a
few lines before stopping and “translating”/
summarizing) as a fix-up strategy, model its
use with one of the points of confusion
students listed. Ask students to trade Post-It
packs with a classmate so they have a new
color, then go back to their points of confusion
and “chunk” the text where they were
confused, writing their “translations” on the
new Post-Its. Students attach all Post-Its to a
sheet of notebook paper to turn in.
Freud Mini-Lesson 30 1.02 Reading logs and
Teacher briefly reviews allusion and explains minutes 3.03 quizzes may be used
Freud’s theory of the “Oedipal Complex,” then 4.03 to determine student
passes out the excerpt from Freud’s 5.01 readiness and
Interpretation of Dreams. Students use the 5.02 interest for this mini-
Reciprocal Teaching Strategy (Questioning, 5.03 lesson; others may
Predicting, Summarizing, Clarifying) to read work on an anchor
the excerpt, then generate a one-to-two activity.
sentence summary for the excerpt. Each group
presents their summary and the rationale they
used to decide what to keep, what to delete,
and what to rephrase.
Note: Dictionaries will be useful for the
Clarifying portion of the RT process.
Patterns in Speeches 30-45 1.02 This assignment
Students work in groups to identify and color- minutes 1.03 serves as scaffolding
code repeated patterns in a speech from 5.01 for Speech
Oedipus Rex (four speeches, by the Priest, 5.02 Explications.
Tiresias, Creon, and Oedipus are available). 5.03
For our purposes, patterns can be words that 6.01
are repeated or themes that are repeated
(fire, ash, etc.). After identifying and color-
coding, students work together (after teacher
models) to identify the possible significance of
Speech Explications 45 1.02 Pretest and Reading
Students will complete four explications, one minutes 1.03 Logs will be used to
for each speech analyzed in groups (see or HW 5.01 group students into
above). The final explication will serve as the 5.02 three levels of
unit Post-test. This is an individual Tiered 5.03 readiness. If a
Assignment, with students grouped by 6.01 student
readiness. There are three versions of each 6.02 demonstrates
explication, with varied levels of scaffolding, increased or
and the scaffolding “disappears” a little bit decreased mastery,
with each assignment. or a need for more
scaffolding may be
added at the
Motifs Mini-Lesson 30 1.02 Students may be
Review the definition of motif from the minutes 3.03 grouped by choice or
PowerPoint lecture, remind students that the 5.01 by readiness (if
number three is a major motif in the play. 5.03 teacher wishes to
Divide students into groups of three, assign differentiate in
each pair a “triad” – group of three – that assignment of
appears in the play (plague victims, Oedipus’ motifs).
family, rulers of Thebes, where Laius is killed,
staffs, riddles, oracles), groups determine the
three sides of the triangle and draw their
triangle on the board for class discussion
(teacher points out that all the triads reinforce
the three people in Oedipus’ family whose
fates are tied together). For independent
practice, students “flag the text” with Post-Its
as they read for homework, marking lines
where the blindness (light/darkness/eyes)
Oedipus Quiz 2 25 5.01
This quiz focuses on motifs in the play. minutes 5.03
Foil Comparison 25 1.02 Pretest and Reading
Students fill in a graphic organizer for minutes 3.03 Logs will be used to
comparing/contrasting Oedipus and Creon to or HW 5.01 group students into
show that Creon is a foil to Oedipus. Three 5.03 three levels of
versions of the graphic organizer are available readiness for this
– a Venn Diagram in which students must Tiered Assignment.
place details, which are given; a partially filled-
in chart with points of comparison; and a
blank bubble map.
Soap Opera Updates 35 3.03
Play one of Clarence’s Young and the Restless minutes 5.01
updates for students; ask them to identify the 5.03
strategies he uses to summarize the events of
that day’s episode. Explain that the word
episode actually comes from Greek tragedy –
the episode is the action that is bookended by
the choral odes. Break students into groups;
assign each group an episode in the play, and
ask each group to develop a Clarence-style
update/summary of the episode. Students
present their update to the class.
Character Portraits 45 1.02 Fran Claggett’s
Students choose a character in Oedipus and minutes 5.01 Drawing Your Own
list as many characteristics and emotions as Conclusions includes
they can for the character. Next, students an exemplar for this
choose a symbol to represent as many of assignment (p. 172);
those characteristics and emotions as analysis of the
possible. Students draw a portrait of their exemplar may serve
character using these symbols. Students may as scaffolding.
work individually or in groups and present
their portraits after finishing the assignment.
Literary Criticism Group Activity 50 1.02 Pretest and Reading
Students work in three groups to read literary minutes 4.03 Logs will be used to
criticism related to Oedipus Rex; each group is 4.05 group students into
assigned one article and receives directions 5.01 three levels of
tailored to that article and the readiness level 5.02 readiness for this
of the students in the group. All groups create 5.03 Tiered Assignment.
a graphic organizer outlining the key points of
their article and present their work to the
class. Students evaluate other groups’ work
using the rubric for the assignment.
Cause-Effect Graphic Organizers 45 1.02 Students may be
Students work in groups to develop a graphic minutes 2.03 grouped by readiness
organizer that shows one of the following 3.03 for this activity and
cause-effect relationships in the play: the 5.01 assigned events of
causes of Laius’ murder, the effects of the 5.03 varying complexity.
murder, the effects of Oedipus’ (figurative)
blindness, the causes of Oedipus’ (literal)
blindness, the causes of Oedipus’ hubris, the
effects of Oedipus’ hubris. Students present
their graphic organizers to the class.
Oedipus Test 1 day 1.02
Students receive a study guide the day before 2.02
the test; if they complete it, they receive five 3.03
points extra credit. 5.01
Oedipus Group Test 1 day 1.02 This test is easily
Students receive the study guide the day 2.02 modified to serve as
before the test; if all group members 3.03 a Tiered Assignment.
complete the study guide, the group receives 5.01
5 points extra credit on the test. If students 5.03
are not assigned to groups until the day of the
test, then this offers an extra incentive for all
students to use the study guides.
Oedipus Review 5 days 1.02
Students write a review of the tragedy 2.02
focusing on the impact of Oedipus’ fate on the 2.04
Image Creation Assignment 2 days 1.02 The assignment
Students choose quotes and images from the 1.03 includes options for
text to create a visual “map” illustrating the 3.03 “challenge” motifs,
development of a motif throughout the 4.03 such as “the ship of
tragedy. Students may present their images 5.01 state,” allowing for
after completing the assignment. 5.03 differentiation by