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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Comparing Wives and Lives
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for teachers is divided into five sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson
Extensions -- Additional activities
Community Connections -- Real world actions for students after completion of the lesson


Have your students view THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII in sections as suggested by the activity plans outlined below. Prior to the viewing, students should complete the activities indicated. Be sure to download and copy all organizers for students prior to the activities in question. In addition, be sure to preview the video, double check in advance that Internet access is functional, and preview the sites listed in the “bookmarked sites” section below.

Media Components

Video Resource:

Computer Resources:
  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above.
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM
    Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM.
  • Software: Microsoft Office; Word, PowerPoint


Students will need the following supplies:

  • A copy of each “organizer” handout
  • Handouts of Web resources (if computers are not available in the classroom)
  • One journal per student

    Bookmarked sites:

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    Introductory Activities and Research:
    It is advisable that students view the Six Wives video after a number of introductory steps are taken. The following activity will prepare students for the main activities (Learning Activities) that follow.

  • Tell students that in this unit they will be learning about Henry VIII of England, his six wives and the times in which they lived. Explain that the video they will see has some difficult vocabulary, so it is important to learn these terms in advance.

  • Write the terms listed on Organizer #1 on a blackboard or whiteboard and ask students to shout out meanings (short definitions) they think they may know as you go through the list. Hand out the student version of Organizer #1 and ask students to follow along and fill it in as you proceed. Prompt them by using example sentences to help with context. Write only reasonably correct “definitions” next to the terms. Leave those the students do not know blank.

  • Tell students that they will now work in pairs to find definitions for the terms left on the board. Divide the remaining terms throughout the class so that this does not take a long time. You may elect to have them physically look them up in a dictionary or to use online resources. When they are finished, write the definitions along side the remaining terms on the board.

  • Now ask the pairs of students to spend the rest of class writing example sentences for the terms on Organizer #1. Assign the work remaining for homework.

    NOTE: Depending on how knowledgeable your students are, you may want to do this activity over two days instead of one. You may or may not choose to review the terms with your students after they have completed the sentences. You may choose to collect and grade the sentences as well.

    Learning Activities:
    Each learning activity assumes that the Introductory Activities have been completed in advance. Before beginning any of the activities, be sure to explain the evaluation/assessment plan as it is outlined on Organizer # 5.

    ACTIVITY 1: Researching the Wives

  • Ask your students to create a research presentation, for the purpose of “teaching” the rest of the class. Divide your class into six groups and assign one wife to each group. Do not make any group larger than five students; if your class exceeds 30, create duplicate groups. The wives are:
    • Catherine of Aragon
    • Anne Boleyn
    • Jane Seymore
    • Anne of Cleves
    • Catherine Howard
    • Catherine Parr
    The presentations should fulfill the following requirements:
    • Utilize two or more of the bookmarked sites or other Internet sites to develop an educational presentation for the entire class on the assigned wife. Students should not be required to submit a report but instead be encouraged to use presentation software and to supplement any presentation with informational handouts for the rest of the class. These handouts might be summary bullets, maps, diagrams, etc.
    • Answers the general questions outlined on Organizer #2 as specifically as possible.

  • After presenting and explaining the project and determining a presentation date, ask groups to convene and determine roles in the project (i.e.: who will do what). This may be broken up by requirement or in some other manner, but regardless, students need to be encouraged to take into account each others’ strengths and weaknesses when determining roles. If students have trouble with this step, impose additional parameters on the project planning stage by requiring that each pair (group) submit to you a work plan detailing who will be responsible for each specific part of the project and when each part will be finished.

  • It is advisable to begin the research process with your students in class. The amount of class time you decide to spend will depend on your students’ ability to work together and to work on research projects. If they have not been exposed to much Internet research, you may need to take them through the basics of conducting searches. If students are more adept at research, allow them to complete a larger portion of the work independently, for homework. Encourage students to communicate via email to ensure that they work productively outside of class.

  • The presentations should take place in one class period, if possible, and should be scheduled before Activity II and the viewing of the video. If you limit each group’s presentation to five minutes, you should have time to fit all into one period. Schedule more time if you feel that it is necessary.

  • When groups are ready to present to the class, tell students that they must take notes on each group's presentation because they will need to use the information later in an essay. Encourage students to ask questions during or after each group’s presentation. The presentation should not exceed 5-10 minutes per group.

    ACTIVITY 2: Viewing and Taking Notes on the SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII

  • Show the SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII video on consecutive days, or break the four episodes up in any way that makes most sense for your class schedule.

  • As mentioned above, require that students take notes on the videos in their journals, and emphasize that they should pay particular attention to their assigned wives. Hand out Organizer #3, which provides students with a list of items to take notes on.

  • Tell students that they will need to use a certain number of references in the video in a later writing assignment. In Activity 3, you will require that students incorporate some of what they learned from the video into their writing.

    ACTIVITY III: Writing a Comparative Essay

  • Ask your students to use the notes they have taken in Activities I and II to write a comparative essay of two or more wives. Emphasize that they should avoid merely listing qualities of the wives they choose to compare, but that they should take a stand, or develop a thesis statement before beginning to write. Use Organizer #4 to help students think about how they will construct their essay. They should draw on information from the class research on the wives and their notes from the video. Completing this outline can be assigned for homework and the writing of the first draft can be started in class so you can provide assistance.

  • To emphasize the use of the vocabulary learned in the introductory lessons, you may want to require that students use a certain number of the vocabulary terms in their essays.

  • Depending on the manner in which you teach writing, conduct peer-revision sessions with your students so that they may improve their essays over time, or you may elect to revise your students’ work yourself. Regardless, students should go through a writing/revision process and be given a hard due date for the final copy.

    Culminating Activity/Assessment:

  • You are encouraged to ask your students to share their essays with the class if they so desire. You might even organize a “reading” that is the culmination of the entire unit and allows for some closure.

  • Alternatively, or in addition, you may want to encourage some of your students to illustrate and/or perform their stories for the class.

  • Use Organizer #5 to assess your students’ work.


    If you have the time and would like to extend the outcomes of this activity, take the writing to the publication stage by asking students to post their work on your school/classroom Web site.

    Community Connections:
    • You might consider expanding the Web-based research to include interviews with local historians and actors. Even a visit to a nearby theater for a tour of the stage for a 15th or 16th century production would be beneficial.
    • If you can arrange a field trip to an appropriate museum or a visit by a guest speaker, both would enhance student understanding of England and the period in history.
    • If you have the opportunity and resources, take your students to England to tour the castles!

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students