Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Setting, It's Where It's At

Setting and Conflict

Shelby Blackwood | Published: May 17th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level
  • Subject Subject
  • Course Course


In this lesson, students experiment with changing the settings in well-known fairy tales and examine how conflict might change in a different setting. Students explore the Prologue from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and analyze how the setting affects the conflict. After analyzing and comparing different possibilities, students, rewrite their version of the Prologue with a twist. This is a multimodality lesson, which means it includes face-to-face, online, and hybrid versions of the lesson. The attachments also include a downloadable Common Cartridge file, which can be imported into a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Canvas or eKadence. The cartridge includes interactive student activities and teacher's notes.

Essential Question(s)

What is the nature of conflict? How can the setting of a story affect conflict?



Students analyze how changing the setting in a fairy tale might affect the conflict and the characters.


Students watch a dramatic reading of the Prologue from "Romeo and Juliet," and then complete a close reading of the text.


Students watch a video about the importance of setting in a story and consider how both the conflict and the characters in "Romeo and Juliet" might change if the setting were different.


Students revise the Prologue from "Romeo and Juliet," creating a different rivalry and changing the characters, the setting, and the conflict.


Students reflect on what they have learned about how setting affects the different elements of a story.

Instructional Formats

The term "Multimodality" refers to the ability of a lesson to be offered in more than one modality (i.e. face-to-face, online, blended). This lesson has been designed to be offered in multiple formats, while still meeting the same standards and learning objectives. Though fundamentally the same lesson, you will notice that the different modalities may require the lesson to be approached differently. Select the modality that you are interested in to be taken to the section of the course designed for that form of instruction.



  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Fairy Tale Scenarios (attached, one per student)

  • I Used to Think, but Now I Know handouts (attached, one per student)

  • Romeo and Juliet Prologue (attached, one per student)

  • Talk Moves handouts (attached, one per student)

  • Flipgrid Presentation Rubric (attached, one per student)

  • Paper

  • Pens or pencils

  • Highlighters

  • Student devices with Internet access



30 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to follow along with the lesson. Display slide 5 and pass out copies of the attached I Used to Think, but Now I Know handout.

In the "I Used to Think" column, have students take notes about what they know about setting and its importance in a story. Once students are done writing, ask them to put their handouts away until later in the lesson.

Start the conversation about the literary elements setting, character, and conflict by introducing the concept of familiar folk and fairy tales. Consider beginning with a general introduction similar to the following:

We all grew up hearing familiar fairy tales. Although the stories might vary slightly according to the version, every good story has some kind of conflict. Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, and many others that cross countries and cultures all illustrate some kind of conflict.

Invite students to think about fairy tales that are familiar to them. Have them brainstorm stories with various settings and timeframes. Once they have a story in mind, invite them to imagine what would happen if the original characters and themes were imported from the familiar time and place to a different time and place. Ask them to consider how the conflict and characters of the story might change if the circumstances of time and place were different.

Display slide 6 and pass out copies of the Fairy Tale Scenarios handout. Ask students to choose one of the four scenarios and think about how the conflict and characters in the story might change if the setting and timeframe were changed in the way described. Have students write down their thoughts.

Display slide 7 and ask students to turn to an Elbow Partner and discuss how their stories might change. Ask for volunteers to share with the whole class.



45 Minute(s)

Display slide 8 and pass out copies of the attached Romeo and Juliet Prologue.

Tell students that they will be watching a video of the Prologue to the play "Romeo and Juliet."

Preface the video by defining the concept of a prologue. A prologue provides preliminary background information about a text. In the Prologue to "Romeo and Juliet," William Shakespeare previews the outcome of the entire play.

Suggest that students use their handouts to follow along as they watch the video. Then show the video.

After showing the video, display slide 9. Introduce students to the Annotating Text strategy. Ask them to re-read the Prologue, looking for unfamiliar words, clues to the setting, and emotionally charged words.

Students should use the following conventions for their annotation:

  • Circle unknown words.

  • Put a box around words that provide a clue to the setting.

  • Highlight emotionally charged words.

  • Underline repeated words or phrases.

  • Write notes in the margins making connections with the text or documenting any questions they might have about the text.

Give students 15-20 minutes to complete their annotations.

Display slide 10. When students have finished annotating the Prologue, use the 3-2-1 strategy to guide students in identifying words that provide insight into the setting and in drawing inferences about the plot, characters, and setting.

Ask students to write down:

  • Three words that provide insight into the setting.

  • Two inferences they can draw about the plot.

  • One prediction based on the setting and plot.

Display slide 11. Once they have finished writing, challenge them to come up with a prediction based on the plot and different setting. After students have drafted their predictions, ask them to share their ideas with their Elbow Partners. Ask for volunteers to share their thoughts with the whole class.



30 Minute(s)

Ask students to return to their Romeo and Juliet Prologue handouts and write down a definition of setting based on their annotations.

Display slide 12. Show the video "The Importance of Setting in a Story." When students have finished watching the video, have students review and add to or update their definitions.

Display slide 13 and show the video "Romeo and Juliet Interview: Introduction."

Ask students to write down their thoughts about how the characters, the conflict, and the outcome might be different in the play if "Romeo and Juliet" had been set in their own town rather than in Verona, Italy. Encourage them to imagine Romeo or Juliet as someone they actually know. What would be different if Juliet were their sister or their neighbor? What would be different if Romeo were their brother or their best friend?

Assign students to small groups to discuss how these changes might affect the characters and the conflict. Pass out copies of the attached Talk Moves handout to help guide the conversation.

Ask for volunteers to share out their group’s thoughts.



60 Minute(s)

Display slide 14, which asks students to write a new version of the Prologue with a different setting, conflict, and characters of their choice. Advise them to plan the new version carefully, paying careful attention to how a different setting might affect the conflict in their stories.

Ask students to examine the original Prologue and closely analyze Shakespeare’s style of writing. Suggest that they experiment with the same poetic form used in the original Prologue and imitate the rhyme and rhythm of the original play. Remind students that this passage uses the form of a sonnet that is 14 lines long where every other line rhymes until lines 13 and 14.

After students have examined the structure of the Prologue, ask them to consider the characters. The basis for conflict in the play is the generational dislike of one family for another. Invite them to imagine two families who hate each other living in the same small town. Ask students to share their thoughts about such a rivalry.

Because their task requires them to create a new conflict, direct them to familiar possibilities. Some examples of rivals are listed on slide 15. Encourage students to use the list as a starting point for their own ideas.

Give students time to write their new version of the Prologue. This activity might take an entire class period.



30 Minute(s)

Display slide 16 and have students return to their I Used To Think, but Now I Know handout.

Have students document their new knowledge in the "Now I Know" column. Suggest that students include examples from the lesson, from their class discussions, and from their own thoughts about the effects that setting can have on conflict.

Display slide 17 and tell students that they will synthesize the information from their "Now I Know" reflection into a Flip recording. In their recordings, students should share what they have learned about setting and its effects on conflict. Pass out copies of the Flip Presentation Rubric handout to provide students with additional details about what is expected. Remind them to speak clearly when they record their presentations.