Monologues, Language, and Literary Argument: Voices of Medieval Village | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G6:M2B:U2

Monologues, Language, and Literary Argument: Voices of Medieval Village

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In this second unit of the module, students apply their background knowledge of the Middle Ages to better understand the literary text Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village. In the first half of the unit, students' purpose for reading these monologues is twofold. Students read these monologues, told through the voices of children from a medieval village, to identify themes of adversity. They focus on the author's craft, specifically the use of figurative language and word choice, to better understand how the author conveys these themes. For their mid-unit assessment, students read a new monologue from the book, identify themes of adversity, analyze the use of figurative language, describe how parts of the text contribute to overall meaning, and answer text-dependent questions about the author's choice of specific words.

In the second half of the unit, students write a literary argument essay in which they address the question: "Do we struggle with the same adversities as the people of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!?" The task is labeled a literary argument because students compare the adversities described in Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! to the adversities they face in their own lives to answer the question, and use evidence from the novel and their own experiences to support their position. Students use a model text and a series of scaffolding lessons to collect evidence and draft their essay. For their end of unit assessment, students incorporate peer and teacher feedback to submit their best draft of this essay. Unit 3 is officially launched during the end of Unit 2, in order to allow time for teachers to prepare feedback on the literary argument essay.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • Themes of adversity can be both specific to and transcendent of time and place.
  • Authors use figurative language and word choice to convey meaning and theme in a literary text.
  • How do authors use language to convey theme and meaning in a literary text?
  • What adversities do the children of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! relate through their monologues?
  • Do we struggle with the same adversities as the people of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!?

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read literature and informational text about medieval times as well as modern poetry about the adversities people face today. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies Practices and Themes to support potential interdisciplinary connections to this compelling content. These intentional connections are described below.

Big ideas and guiding questions are informed by the New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework:

Unifying Themes (pages 6-7)

  • Theme 1: Individual Development and Cultural Identity: The role of social, political, and cultural interactions supports the development of identity. Personal identity is a function of an individual's culture, time, place, geography, interaction with groups, influences from institutions, and lived experiences.
  • Theme 2: Development, Movement, and Interaction of Cultures: Role of diversity within and among cultures; aspects of culture such as belief systems, religious faith, or political ideals as influences on other parts of a culture, such as its institutions or literature, music, and art; cultural diffusion and change over time as facilitating different ideas and beliefs.
  • Theme 4: Geography, Humans, and the Environment: The relationship between human populations and the physical world (people, places, and environments).
  • Theme 5: Development and Transformation of Social Structures: Role of social class, systems of stratification, social groups, and institutions; role of gender, race, ethnicity, education, class, age, and religion in defining social structures within a culture; social and political inequalities.

Social Studies Practices, The Role of the Individual in Social and Political Participation, Grades 5-8:

  • Descriptor 4: Identify, describe, and contrast the role of the individual in opportunities for social and political participation in different societies (page 59).


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village
by Laura Amy Schlitz
ISBN: 978-0763650940


Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions


  • Invite an expert of medieval studies from a local college or university.
  • Invite an expert on drama or theater to discuss the specific dramatic genre of monologue.

Arrange for a visit to a local theater to see the production of monologues.



  • Students could choose a monologue from Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! to perform at a group production for families and peers.
  • Students could choose two characters from the text and analyze their social status, character traits, and obstacles to write a dialogue between them. 

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