TEL Lesson Plan
Filial Responsibility and King Lear: A Research Exploration

Grade Level: 12
Subject: English Language Arts
Time Frame: 1-3 class sessions; One week independent research


This lesson connects the study of British literature to an argumentative essay on the contemporary issue.

After studying King Lear, students will be given a writing prompt inspired by on the play’s major themes, filial responsibility. Students will then write a researched argumentative essay requiring the synthesis and documentation of multiple sources found in TEL databases and other sources.

Databases/Other Resources

General OneFile, Academic OneFile, Health and Wellness Resource Center, Religion and Philosophy Collection; Gale Virtual Reference Library


In Act 1, Scene 1 of King Lear, the king asks his three daughters to quantify their love for him. Discuss the daughters’ response to Lear to begin a conversation of the idea of filial responsibility. After students consider the obvious ethical aspects of the topic from their own experience, transition the conversation into a discussion of the contemporary issue of filial responsibility in the era of an aging population. Introduce students to the larger conversation by showing a variety of media that show the relevance of this topic to our times. Next prepare students to research the question: What is a person’s responsibility to her aging parents? What issues stand in the way of accepting that responsibility? What role does society overall have in caring for the elderly? The students will then read, research, draft a thesis that makes a claim about one aspect of the topic, support the claim with evidence from other sources, and document the sources. Students will turn in a rough draft to be peer-edited in class before the final essay is due.


Steps for Teacher


1.  Lead a class discussion on filial responsibility in King Lear
(Showing a video of this scene can be a good way to start the conversation)

2.  Introduce students to the larger, contemprary conversation.  Collaborate with a librarian to choose effective media items.
Show students several examples of the conflicts/issues regarding filial responsibility to aging parents in contemporary society.  Break students into groups and assign each a video, audio, or text file.  After watching, listening, and discussing, have group members talk about the issues discussed in their file and who created it.  Next, have each group share what they've learned with the whole class so that all students will see that this is a very relevant and much discussed topic. 


Possible Options for Introducing the Contemporary Issue from General OneFile

3.  Give students the writing prompt, due dates, and requirements. 
  What is a person’s responsibility to her aging parents?  What issues stand in the way of accepting that responsibility?  What role does society overall have in caring for the elderly? 

Write a four-page essay that makes a claim about one aspect of the issues surrounding filial resonsibility in contemporary society.  Support your argument with evidence from multiple sources and document using MLA style. 

Cautions and Tips: 

4.  Give the students with in-class research time with a librarian.

5.  Give students steps for peer editing.

6.  Provide students with a rubric demonstrating how the essay will be graded.



Steps for Librarian

1.  Collaborate with the teacher to locate relevant sources that introduce students to the larger, contemporary conversation.

2.  Instruct students on the use of relevant databases and terms for finding information on this topic. 

Possible search terms:
"filial responsibility"
"sandwich generation"
elderly and "family relations"
caregivers and "elderly parents"

3.  Collaborate with teacher to grade research and documentation

Steps for Student

1.  Read King Lear and participate in a class discussion of filial responsibility

2.  In a group, consider the idea of filial responsibility in contemporary society and think about who is talking and writing about this topic.  Think about the underlying issues of this topic.

3.  Narrow the topic to one specific issue and gather information from a variety of credible and reliable sources. 

4.  Organize ideas into an essay with a strong thesis statement that is support with evidence from sources.  Document sources in MLA Style.

5.  Participate in peer-editing.

6.  Revise paper based on peer-editor's feedback.

Related Activities

Have students debate different opinions of filial responsibility. 


Content Standards

Language Arts/English IV:

Standard 3 - Writing


Language Arts/English IV:

Standard 4 - Research


Learning Expectations/Grade Level Expectations

Standard 3 - Writing;  Standard 4 - Research

Course Level Expectations:

The essay incorporates all of the course level expectations from Standard 3: Writing and Standard 4: Research with particular emphasis on the following: 

CLE 3005.3.3 Organize ideas into an essay with a thesis statement in the introduction, well constructed paragraphs, a conclusion, and transition sentences that connect paragraphs into a coherent whole.

CLE 3005.3.4 Revise documents to develop or support ideas more clearly, address potential objections, ensure effective transitions between paragraphs, and correct errors in logic.

CLE 3005.4.1 Define and narrow a problem or research topic.

CLE 3005.4.2 Gather relevant information from a variety of print and electronic sources, as well as from direct observation, interviews, and surveys.

CLE 3005.4.3 Make distinctions about the credibility, reliability, consistency, strengths, and limitations of resources, including information gathered from websites.

CLE 3005.4.4 Write an extended research paper, using primary and secondary sources and technology and graphics, as appropriate.

CLE 3005.4.5 Use a standard format to arrange text, to cite sources correctly, and to document quotations, paraphrases, and other information.


Performance Indicators State

None given at Department of Education standards site.


The essay should be assessed on the following:

Suggested Rubrics:
Rubric for a Research Project
Persuasion Rubric


ISTE Computer Literacy and Usage Standards

3. Research and Information Fluency: Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students:

a. plan strategies to guide inquiry.
b. locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources andmedia.
c. evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
d. process data and report results.


AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner

1. Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge.

2. Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.

3. Share knowledge and participateethically andproductively asmembers of ourdemocratic society.