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Prophecy Activity

A group of people in white look surprised. They are standing in a clump.
Photo of the Chorus of Oedipus Rex by Michael Brosilow.

Try out prophesying for yourself! This in-class writing activity invites creativity and builds skills around audience, purpose, and tone as students approach Oedipus Rex.

Prophecy Activity

  • Activity Preparation
    • Supplies
    • Set-Up
      • Divide the class into three groups. Alternatively, for a larger class size, consider dividing the class into six groups so that two groups work on the same prophecy. 
      • Ensure that there is a space designated as the “stage” where students can present a brief performance.
      • Students will need access to an online search engine.

  • This activity will take approximately 60 minutes.

  • Learning Sequence
    1. Define the word prophecy as a class. Ask students to share what comes to mind when they hear the word prophecy and where they have seen it used in books, movies, or television. Students may also be familiar with the word prophet; consider facilitating student thinking about the relationships between and meaning of these words. Students should determine a working definition of prophecy that is along the lines of “a prediction destined to come true” or “a divine revelation.” (~ 5 minutes)
    2. Distribute a single prophecy example (see below) to each group and be sure that each student has a copy of the Prophecy Activity handout. Share with students that the different prophecies come from Oedipus the King, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings. (Note: students might not be familiar with each of these sources in particular. Encourage them to infer as much as possible from the prophecy itself before using the support of a search engine to learn things like who spoke the prophecy or to whom.) (~1 minute)
    3. Have students work in their groups to answer the following questions on their handout about their assigned prophecy. (~15 minutes)
      • What is the literal meaning of the prophecy in your own words? 
      • What is the main idea of the prophecy?
      • Who is it being spoken to?
      • Who is the speaker (or prophet)?
      • What is the tone of this prophecy? Is this prophecy positive or negative?
      • Why was this prophecy spoken?
    4. Have students share what they discovered about their prophecy with the larger group. Prompt students to call out what similarities and differences exist between each of the prophecies presented. (~10 minutes)
    5. Have students return to their groups. Prompt them to create a brief, embodied performance of their prophecy using the below ingredients. If students need an example before they get started, consider showing them video clips of the witches’ prophecy in Macbeth from a few different film adaptations. (~10 minutes)
      • Every member of the group must be incorporated into the piece.
      • Use movement, sound effects, vocal dynamics (shouts, whispers, etc.).
      • There must be at least one shared moment (everyone performs the same gesture or says the same thing).
      • Consider the main idea, tone, and audience when constructing this piece.
    6. Have groups perform their piece in the designated performance space. As students watch, they should note and share how the group used their voices and bodies to express their prophecy. (~5 minutes)
    7. Prompt students write their own prophecy individually on their handout. Call students’ attention to the ideas and guidelines that they should keep in mind while creating their own prophecy. (~10 minutes)
      • Who needs to receive a prophecy right now? This could be someone you know personally, someone you don’t know, or someone you only know about. 
      • Do they need to hear a positive or negative prophecy?
      • What do you hope this person does once they hear the prophecy?
      • Why are you bestowing this prophecy on them?
      • Prophecies should be two-to-three sentences long.
    8. Invite a few students to share their prophecies with the class. Alternatively, prophecies can be placed in a box, or on an “altar” to be “offered” up to the gods, the universe, etc. (~5 minutes) 

  • This activity addresses the following standards:
    • Illinois Arts Learning Standards
      • Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
      • Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
      • Anchor Standard 6: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.
    • Common Core State Standards
      • CCSS.ELA.RL1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
      • CCSS.ELA.L4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
      • CCSS.ELA.L5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
      • CCSS.ELA.RL4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone. 
      • CCSS.ELA.W3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

Posted on November 15, 2023 in Learning Guides, Productions

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