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 StudySync Lesson Plan
Engage students in the figurative language, imagery, diction, sounds, and themes of
Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” so that they may develop an understanding of the
poem’s meaning and are prepared to discuss and write, both critically and creatively,
about the contents of the poem.
2. Practice and reinforce the following Grades 9-10 ELA Common Core Standards for
reading literature, writing, and speaking and listening:
WRITING – W.9-10.1-10
130 minutes (with up to an additional 240 minutes of extension possibilities)
SyncTV Premium Lesson on Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias”
One of the most renowned and well-regarded of the English Romantic poets, Percy Bysshe
Shelley (1792 – 1822) ran with a circle of writers and thinkers that included luminaries such as
Lord Byron, William Goodwin, Leigh Hunt, and his own wife Mary, best known as the author of
Frankenstein. Considered too radical to inherit his father’s Parliament seat, Percy Shelley did not
see much critical or commercial success during his lifetime, but future generations recognized
him as a pioneer in the emergence of 19th century lyric poetry and one of the finest writers of his
time. One of his most famous poems, “Ozymandias” was written in a competition to
commemorate the transport of a statue of Pharaoh Ramses II to a museum in London. Shelley
uses this as a framework to comment on the ephemeral nature of power and the lasting nature of
art. Close examination of this poem will offer students the opportunity to consider Shelley’s use
of poetic devices as they prepare to discuss and write in-depth responses to the poem,
consistent with the ELA Common Core Standards for Grades 9 and 10.
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Lesson Plan: Ozymandias
Background (10 minutes)
Watch the Preview (SL.9-10.1-2). As a group, watch the video preview of the premium
lesson. After viewing, use the following questions to spur a discussion:
a. Who were the Pharaohs and when did they live? Why were “grand statues” built in
honor of them? What do you know, generally speaking, about the beliefs and
traditions of ancient Egyptian culture?
b. What are the general properties of a sonnet? Have you read any sonnets before?
What name(s) do you generally associate with the writing of sonnets?
c. The preview states that this poem is about “the inevitable decline of all leaders
and their empires, no matter how great.” What causes leaders and empires to fall?
Why is this decline viewed as inevitable? What will happen to the leaders and
empires of today, and why?
Extension (additional 80 minutes)
d. Research (W.9-10.7-8 and SL.9-10.1, 4). Who were some of the other English
Romantic poets? For a homework assignment, have students research English
Romantic poetry and some of the names most closely associated with this
movement. Discuss, as a class, the major tenets of this artistic movement.
e. Read (RL.9-10.2, 4–6 and W.9-10.7, 9). Tell students to find another sonnet by a
noteworthy English poet (Shakespeare, Keats, etc.) and analyze it as a homework
assignment. Assign each student to write a short paragraph-analysis of the
Present (SL.9-10.4-6). Now have students present their assigned sonnets to the
class. Have them read aloud each particular sonnet and give a short analysis of
the sonnet’s background and perceived meaning.
Engaging the Text (120 minutes)
2. Read the Text (30 minutes)
a. Read and Annotate (RL.9-10.1-2, 4–6). Ask students to read the introduction and
the poem “Ozymandias.” Be sure to give them enough time to both read and
annotate the text. If your classroom has a projector, you may want to model notetaking skills by reading and annotating the first paragraph as a class. If students
are completing this as a homework assignment, ask them to write any questions
they have into the annotation tool–these questions are visible to you after the
students submit their writing assignments or beforehand if you use the “Mimic”
function to access the students’ accounts.
i. Read. Ask the students to read the introduction and have a student
volunteer to read the poem aloud. Each student should have the poem in
front of them and, if possible, it should also be projected on the board.
ii. “What do you notice?” After hearing it for the first time, ask the students,
“What do you notice?” This should be a free-form discussion; anything that
attracts attention in the poem is worth mentioning. If the conversation is
having a hard time getting started, tell the students to pretend you’ve
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Lesson Plan: Ozymandias
taken the poem away from them after the first reading and you just want to
know what they remember about it.
iii. Read again with a pencil. Have another student read the poem aloud a
second time or use the audio feature on the site. This time students should
underline any image, phrase, or line that appeals to them. Anything goes:
something that sounds nice, a phrase that rings true, or something that is
clearly stated. Ask that they underline at least three things as they listen to
the poem. At the same time, they should circle any words or phrases that
are unfamiliar to clarify later.
iv. Ask questions. Each student should write at least two specific questions
he or she has about this poem.
b. Discuss (SL.9-10.1). Have students get into small groups or pairs and briefly
discuss the questions and inferences they had while reading. As a class, examine
the formal characteristics of this poem. Using a pencil, have students write a letter
at the end of each line denoting the rhythmic pattern (A, B, A, B, A, C, D, C, E, D, E,
F, E, F) Next, discuss the meaning of the poem. What message is Shelley trying to
Extension (additional 20 minutes)
c. Listen and Discuss (SL.9-10.1-2). As a class, listen to the audio reading of the text
and watch this video reading, complete with images and background sound
Ask students to share how their understanding of the text changed after listening
and watching. What additional images came to mind? What words did the author
use to develop the setting?
d. Comprehend (RL.9-10.1-2, 4–6). Have students complete the multiple-choice
questions. Collect papers or discuss answers as a class.
3. Watch SyncTV (30 minutes)
a. Watch. Either watch the SyncTV discussion as a class or ask students to watch it
on their individual computers.
b. Focus (SL.9-10.1-3 and RL.9-10.6). First, consider the discussion from 1:43-2:11
regarding the irony in this poem. Why does Liam consider the poem to be ironic?
c. Focus (SL.9-10.1-3 and RL.9-10.1–2). From 2:11-3:30, the SyncTV students talk
about some of the historical context of Shelley’s poem. Pay attention to this
discussion and how the context helps us to better understand the poem’s
d. Focus (SL.9-10.1-3 and RL.9-10.4). Finally, use the portion of the episode from 5:306:33–wherein the SyncTV students analyze a particular phrase from
“Ozymandias”–as a model of how to do an effective close reading of a poetry text.
e. Discuss (SL.9-10.1-4 and RL.9-10.1-6, 10). After watching the model discussion,
have a conversation with the class about the ideas discussed in the SyncTV
episode. What new thoughts do they have after hearing the students' discussion?
Next, divide students into small groups (3-4 students). Move around the room
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Lesson Plan: Ozymandias
monitoring groups as students follow the SyncTV episode as a model to discuss
some of the following questions:
i. What do you think is the message of this sonnet? What is Shelley
communicating, either directly or indirectly, about the nature of power and
the passage of time?
ii. Consider the role of interpretation in this sonnet: the sculptor “interprets”
Ozymandias in his work; the sculpture is then interpreted by the traveler,
whose story is then interpreted by the poet. What meaning can we derive
from these different interpretations on display? By giving us these different
perspectives, what do you think Shelley is trying to say?
iii. The sonnet is constructed around a single image. What is that image? How
is this image metaphorical? In other words, what deeper ideas or truths
does this single image convey?
iv. Compare the “temporary” versus the “permanent” in this sonnet. Based on
this comparison, what things in life are ephemeral and what things last
v. Analyze the poem’s most ambiguous line, “The hand that mocked them
and the heart that fed.” Whose hand and heart is the poem referring to?
What is being mocked, and by whom?
vi. Is this poem ironic or tragic? What is the irony or tragedy implicit in this
poem? Discuss different ways in which the image at the heart of
“Ozymandias” is either ironic or tragic (or both), especially in regard to the
nature of power.
Extension (additional 60+ minutes)
Create (SL.9-10.1, 4-6). Use iMovie (or similar multimedia program) to create a short
video/audio re-telling of “Ozymandias.” Have students record a dramatic reading
of the poem and sync it with corresponding images, similar to the video from
Present the videos before the class and publish them online, if desired.
g. Write Creatively (W.9-10.3, 7-9). Using the database of Blast! Topics, have
students choose a particular issue or focal point of debate and write a sonnet in
its honor! An easy introduction to sonnet-writing can be found at Once familiar
with the form, compose sonnets akin to Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” using a single
image or metaphor as the basis for a larger idea or truth.
4. Think (10 minutes)
a. Respond (W.9-10.1, 4). Ask students to read the “Think” questions, watch the
corresponding video clips, and respond to the questions, either in class or for
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Lesson Plan: Ozymandias
5. Write (50 minutes)
a. Discuss (SL.9-10.1). Read the prompt you have chosen for students, and then
solicit questions regarding the prompt or the assignment expectations. Whichever
prompt you have chosen, make sure you are clear about the assignment
expectations and the rubric by which you and the other students will be evaluating
b. Organize (RL.9-10.1-6, 10 and W.9-10.1-2, 5). Ask students to go back and annotate
the text with the prompt in mind. They should be organizing their thoughts and the
points they’ll address in their writing as they make annotations. If you’ve worked
on outlining or other organizational tools for writing, this is a good place to apply
c. Write (W.9-10.1-2, 4-6, 9–10). Have students go through the writing process of
planning, revising, editing, and publishing their writing responses.
d. Review (W.9-10.4-6). Use the StudySync “Review” feature to have students
complete one to two evaluations of their peers’ work based on your chosen
review rubric. Have the students look at and reflect upon the peer evaluations of
their own writing. What might you do differently in a revision? How might you
strengthen the writing and the ideas?
Extension (additional 80 minutes)
e. Write (W.9-10.1-2, 4-6, 9-10). For homework, have students write an essay using
one of the prompts you did not choose to do in class. Students should publish
their responses online.
Write Persuasively (W.9-10.1, 4, 7-9). Percy Bysshe Shelley was aligned with many
controversial writers and thinkers of his time, and many of his ideas were
decidedly radical for the early 19th century. Having read “Ozymandias,” write a
short essay response of 300 words analyzing how “Ozymandias” was a radical
poem for its time, both in terms of its message and its form. Do outside research if
necessary, and be sure to cite examples from the text of how Shelley’s poem
stood apart from many conventions of its time.
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Lesson Plan: Ozymandias
Key Vocabulary
antique (adj.) – ancient
2. visage (n.) – A person’s face
3. sneer (n.) – An expression on a person’s face that shows a lack of respect
4. pedestal (n.) – The base of a tall object, e.g. a large statue
5. despair (v.) – To abandon hope that a situation will get better
6. colossal (adj.) – Huge; resembling the Colossus, a giant statue
7. boundless (adj.) – Unlimited, without boundaries, vast
Reading Comprehension Questions
The “two vast and trunkless legs of stone” (line 2) belong to __________________.
a. the sculptor
b. the traveler
c. the shattered statue
d. none of the above
2. Line 3 contains an example of __________________.
a. metaphor
b. alliteration
c. internal rhyme
d. personification
3. The “shattered visage” (line 4) refers to __________________.
a. the broken-off head of the statue
b. a terrible sight near the base of the statue
c. the traveler’s foggy memory of what he saw
d. the two vast and trunkless legs of the statue
4. Which of the following best interprets the meaning of: “A shattered visage lies, whose
frown /
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command / Tell that its sculptor well those passions
read” (line 6)?
a. Ozymandias chose the sculptor because he understood his passions.
b. The sculpture’s face is evidence that its sculptor understood Ozymandias’ nature.
c. The face of Ozymandias does not tell us the whole story of this great leader.
d. Ozymandias was likely upset by the sculptor’s interpretation of his visage.
“The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed” (line 8)
The underlined word in this passage is most likely referring to ___________________.
a. the vast and trunkless legs
b. the viewers of the statue
c. these lifeless things
d. Ozymandias’ passions
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Lesson Plan: Ozymandias
6. In the statement “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” (line 11) Ozymandias is
speaking to __________________.
a. the sculptor of the statue
b. gods and/or other powerful figures
c. the traveler
d. Percy Bysshe Shelley
7. Ozymandias’ quoted statement in question 6 is ironic because ____________________.
a. none of Ozymandias’ “works” remain
b. the sculptor’s statue is the only work in sight
c. the statue is buried in a desert where no one can read his statement
d. all of the above
8. Based upon a close reading of the sonnet, with which of the following statements would
Percy Bysshe Shelley most likely NOT agree?
a. Power and material possessions are temporary.
b. Desert travelers are frequently not to be trusted.
c. Leaders are only remembered by how they are depicted.
d. Art will outlast the empires it comes from.
9. The description of the statue’s visage tells us that Ozymandias was probably
a. benevolent
b. cruel
c. handsome
d. powerful
10. “These lifeless things” (line 7) refers to _____________________.
a. the hand and the heart
b. Ozymandias’ works
c. the pieces of stone
d. the desert
Answer Key
1. C
2. C
3. A
4. B
5. D
6. B
7. D
8. B
9. B
10. C
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Lesson Plan: Ozymandias
Further Assignments
Have students read some of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s other poems: “Hymn to an
Intellectual Beauty,” “England in 1819,” “Ode to the West Wind,” and more. How are these
poems similar to or different than “Ozymandias”? What do these poems tell you about the
interests, themes, and language of Shelley’s larger body of work? (RL.9-10.1-6, 10 and
2. Research the life and reign of Pharaoh Ramses II and write a short essay summary of his
life. Why was he considered the most powerful of Pharaohs? At the height of his reign,
what did he control? How did he live and how did he die? What does his story tell you
about life in ancient Egypt? (W.9-10.2, 4, 7-8)
3. Who could be a modern-day “Ozymandias” figure? Have students pick a more
contemporary figure (living or dead) and write a short paragraph response comparing this
leader (or other figure) to Shelley’s “Ozymandias.” (W.9-10.2, 7, 9)
4. Create a class sonnet anthology! Using sonnets written for the earlier Extension exercise
(or a topic of your own choosing), have students write and revise a sonnet of their
choosing for submission. If students are willing to share, make a booklet or handout of
their sonnet submissions, inviting authors to read their work. (W.9-10.3-6, 9)
5. What are some other kinds of poetry? What kinds have you read and/or written before?
Introduce students to other variations of poetry (e.g., limerick, haiku, epic, etc.) and the
specific standards of each. What are the elements of these different forms, and how does
this make some forms more suited to certain topics or styles? (SL.9-10.1, 4 and W.9-10.7, 9)
6. For language learners or students who struggle with poetry, assign a re-write of
“Ozymandias” as a descriptive paragraph. Keep the same ideas and descriptions but rewrite it in prose, making sure not to lose any elements in “translation” of Shelley’s original.
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Lesson Plan: Ozymandias