Outta Ray's Head
Home Writing Poetry Links Lessons
An important note: Each lesson is in text (.txt) format but it may not display properly in Netscape or Explorer. I suggest that you save the lesson and then edit or format it in any word processor such as WordPerfect or MS Word.
Just click on the titles to get to the descriptions and the lessons.
The Meaning of Literature
Someone once told me that you couldn't ask a student to write about what a poem, or any work of literature, means. Why not? Meaning is something which a person takes away from a work of art and therefore it can be intensely personal. It can also determine if a person deems the work of art to be successful or not. This is the handout to introduce the concept.The Meaningful Assignment
This is the poetry assignment where each student gets to explain what a poem of his or her choosing means to him, or her. The student should analyze the meaning on the basis of the five questions and make some definitive statements about the poem. It can be a song in which case the playing of the song will be part of the presentation. Tell the students to NOT pick a poem with overwhelming negative connotations such as a favourite relative's pick for what to recite at the funeral after his death. I have had a student break down in tears in front of the class while analyzing a Garth Brook's song that related to cancer, of which the student's mother died.
Independent Novel Study
Here is an independent novel study that takes into account every difference in ability in your class. Each student picks his or her own novel and does any number of assignments that up to 50 marks. They can do two twenty mark and one ten mark assignments or any other combination. The assignments are a mix of creative and applied writing and art activities. If a student earns more than 50 marks give him or her the marks as a bonus -- however, put a limit on how many bonus marks a student can get or you will be marking assignments by the truckload. This was used in a de-streamed Grade 9 class.
Another Independent Novel Study -- Intermediate
This is an older version of the independent study detailed above. It is also much more suitable for students who require directed study rather than the more independent and wide-ranging type outlined above. It has been used in Grade 9 right through Grade 11 with good results. Set your due dates, if you have fixed dates, to allow enough time depending on the mix of class time and homework.
Independent Study with an "exhibition" component
- Lori Koplik of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, submitted this lesson. She says that "the results are very impressive, and the students revel in the ownership they have over their course of study. Everyone loves seeing the final exhibitions...so much so that they invite their friends and other teachers to see them during the last two weeks of school." This unit is suitable for most grades. There is a proposal sheet attached to the end of the handout. Take a look and if you like it, use it. Lori can be reached at email@example.com
Free Reading Independent Study Project
- Jeremy Glazer, an English teacher at Miami Northwestern Senior High in Miami, FL., uses this project with his ninth and tenth grade students. The project is a goldmine of activities and Jeremy says that "what has been great about it is that the kids have flocked to books at their level". You can reach Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Independent Novel Project
This is a whole independent novel project which intermediate students should find enjoyable and challenging. It's the creation of Heather Shaw-Gardener, who teaches English at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, California, who has used it with her grade 9 to 11 students. Heather can be reached at email@example.com. The lesson is available in two formats, just click on the one you want:
Short Story Unit Plan -- day by day outline
This is just one of many very thorough lessons by Alyson Cope who teaches English at Deerfield Beach High in Florida. You can find many more excellent lessons ranging from independent study to Shakespeare and writing skills. Visit her web site at http://www.geocities.com/jimrot/lessonplans2.html to take a look.
A Board Game from a Novel
This is an interesting independent study project submitted by Sharon Stewart who teaches in the incredibly picturesque area of Whitianga, New Zealand. You can reach Sharon at firstname.lastname@example.org
How do you teach a novel without those fifteen pages of questions that have to be taken up in lock-step and that hardly any of the less motivated students ever do? This exercise uses LORD OF THE FLIES and goes along with your lessons on how to write an essay and also incorporates writing skills and creativity and each student can progress at a pace more in keeping with his or her activities (although there are still deadlines). Give quizzes on sections of the novel if you want to make sure that they are keeping a reasonable level of progress in their reading of the novel. Use this as a guide for doing any other novel. As I was looking through a collection of students' work generated by this unit, I noticed that many of the students got really creative. One wrote Piggy's diary using a burnt stick and old paper (all that he could find) and another student presented the outline for the novel as a musical, complete with basic stage directions, a list of songs and the lyrics.
Authors of the Past and Present Assignment
If you want to really understand a book or story you should know about the author. This assignment gets students to do just that by researching an author. Tammy Manor, who teaches English at John Adams High School in Queens, New York, made up the assignment for her Grade Nines and has even included a list of authors for the students. Tammy can be reached at Poetgrl78@aol.com
Semi-Independent Novel Study -- Grade 11
Return to Top
Lord of the Flies -- question sheets and answers
Aaron Bristol teaches at the Shelterwood School in Branson, MO. which is a Christian residential care facility. He uses these question sheets to guide his students through the novel and check on their progress as they work on the novel in an independent study environment. Each sheet included here has an accompanying answer sheet to help you. Aaron can be reached at email@example.com
- Chapter One
- Chapter Two
- Chapters Three and Four
- Chapter Five
- Chapters Six and Seven
- Chapters Eight and Nine
- Chapter Ten
- Chapters Eleven and Twelve
Comparison of Lord of the Flies and Au Revoir Les Enfants
Not only is this an excellent film review assignment, but also a comprehensive summary of some of the major themes in the novel. The lesson was submitted by Jason S. Lambert who teaches British Lit, freshman English and Writing Workshop at Windsor Locks High School in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. He can reached at FieldGold@aol.com
Flimibuff -- the classic Lord of the Flies assignment
Ronnie Campagna of San Marin High School in Novato, California developed this lesson while a student teacher in 1973. Ronnie adds that "every year, the former freshman honors students ask when I'm doing Flimibuff. It's become almost like a secret handshake: anyone who knows about Flimibuff is a legitimate graduate." With a reference like that, how can you not take a look? The lesson has three components: (click on any title to see the text document)
- a detailed history and rationale
- the general outline of the assignment
- a detailed outline of the various "jobs"
Ronnie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Film or Play Review
This lesson involves a review of a movie or a play and has group work and peer evaluation; a peer response sheet is included. The lesson was devised by Marc Zimmerman who teaches at Bristol Eastern High School in Bristol, Connecticut. Marc also has a High School English Lesson Plans Page which, besides lessons, has some good ideas for getting started at the beginning of the year. Just click HERE to visit his web site or you can e-mail him at MEZIM@aol.com
Visual Assignment on Relationships -- Intermediate
Bill McCarthy's classes at St. Stephen School in San Francisco study the theme of relationships in their short story book. This assignment uses primarily photos as well as songs, pictures, quotations and lyrics to produce a visual essay on relationships in their lives. You can send comments or questions to Bill at email@example.com
Growing Up Portfolio Assignment
This is a comprehensive portfolio assignment which is based on the growing up theme. Cyndy Reidy, who teaches at Palliser Heights School in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan says that "this assignment was based on the need to provide for the focus of on-going evaluation and the need to offer students choices for creativity in order to show comprehension". It is a very large and adaptable project. Cyndy can be reached at GPReidy@sk.sympatico.ca
Personal Choice Personal Reading -- Grade 10
If you want a very comprehensive, demanding and creative independent study for a secondary class, this is the place to look. Erin Thaler teaches at Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia and has submitted a huge novel study complete with a bibliographic exercise, writing assignments, and the test has even been added to help you out further. I found the exercises very demanding (but that's me) but very easy to adapt to a class. Erin also has a web site with more lessons of interest and many links. You can link to the site at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/1298 or e-mail Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dissecting a Story
"Let's look at some examples of literature as types of biology specimens." That's how Erin Thaler, who submitted the lesson right above, begins this lesson which combines the science lab and the English class. The lesson involves several web pages and so I have put the link here. Just click on the title above.
Return to Top
Reading Group Tasks -- Intermediate
The term "tasks" seems much too harsh for these varied and creative writing assignments which are designed to "keep students on-task while they are in reading groups by giving them responsibilities on which they will report to the group when they meet together." The whole set was submitted by Marsha Serafin who teaches English at the San Diego Academy in the city on the bay. She can be reached at email@example.com
Mike Jackson is an English teacher at Houston County High School which is about 90 miles south of Atlanta, Georgia. This lesson is best for cooperative groups and the basic idea is to search through a text to find passages which prove statements students make upon finishing a novel, play, short story, or poem. Mike usually uses it as an exercise in characterization, but he has found it adaptable to the study of plot, setting and theme. You can pass on comments or questions to Mike at MIJackson@hcbe.net
Activities for Richard Peck's A Year Down Yonder
Mrs. Z. at TR, or Karen Zach of Turkey Run Jr.-Sr. High School in Parke County, Indiana (the Covered Bridge Capital of the World) has submitted a set of very creative activities for the 2001 Newbery Award Winning novel A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck. This would be ideal for an Intermediate class. Karen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hyper-Text, Fiction and Reader Writer Interaction
Chris Lehmann is a teacher at the Beacon School in NYC which has as its focus a true inter-disciplinary approach to teaching students the skills that they will need in the next century. This lesson is just one example of such a lesson. In this project, "students, in groups, create a piece of "hyper-fiction", a piece of fiction (or a poem) where students break down the linear structure of the narrative by linking out from the story." The link above will take you to the page for a full description and two worksheets; some of the other links there will take you to the Beacon English Page. You can also find a link to more of Chris' work in the Links section. Chris can be reached at email@example.com
Return to Top
In the Heat of the Night Novel Project
This is a stepped set of assignments which invites students to shoot at different levels of achievement based upon how far they venture in the list of assignments. It was submitted by a fellow Canadian, Lorne Warwick, who teaches English at Ancaster High and Vocational School in Ancaster, Ontario, (that explains the name of the school) which is just outside of Hamilton. The lessons are adaptable for a number of other novels and if you want to comment or ask Lorne anything just e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fahrenheit 451 -- Summer Reading Assignment -- Gr. 11
I have often thought of assigning reading over the summer holidays for students entering English in the fall. I always backed off of the idea; however, Ruth Ross and her colleagues at Chatham High School in Chatham, New Jersey, have taken such an approach. Over the summer the 10th graders will read The Crucible; the 11th graders will read Fahrenheit 451; and the 12th graders will read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. All levels! Even if you just want to use the lesson ideas during the regular school year, this handout has excellent assignments, discussion topics, web sites, and additional reading to explore the novel. You can contact Ruth at email@example.com
Utopian/Dystopian Literature Study -- Senior
The ideal of the perfect society has eluded mankind since time began, or so it seems. One person's paradise is another's Devil's Island. Brenda Kukla of Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Georgia has developed a detailed independent study unit using this theme. She says that "this is my favorite unit to teach because it is so student-directed, and we have such deep discussions." Take a look; Brenda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Extra Credit Assignments
Rene Schofield at Westmont High School in Campbell, California uses these assignments in her Senior British Literature course. The students have the option of selecting assignments to complete for extra credits. You could use the entire handout or even incorporate some of the assignments into an independent literature study.
Alanis Morissette -- Connotation and Denotation
This is a challenging writing assignment from Rene (see above) and is also listed on the the Poetry Page (go there next) and uses the song "You Learn" by Canadian superstar Alanis Morissette. You can use it as a poetry lesson, a writing assignment, or preferably, both. It's suitable for most secondary grades, depending on the abilities of your students.
Science and Technology-- Monsters We Have Created
This is another lesson from Lorne Warwick. Lorne says that he uses the lesson after studying Hawthorne's "The Birthmark" or Shelley's "Frankenstein". However, I think that it would be an extremely educational follow-up to any unit involving science fiction or modern problems. I have included Lorne's instructions for the lesson, his handout for the class as well as a list of brainstorming terms. As a teacher-librarian, I can also visualize this as a very effective instrument for teaching or refining library research skills. You can contact Lorne at the e-mail address above.
Return to Top
Fifth Business -- Themes and Quotes for Analysis
Fifth Business, by Robertson Davies, is one of the greatest novels ever written by a Canadian, and one of the best in the world. Of course, this is just my humble opinion. Nevertheless, the novel is taught in numerous Canadian high schools, some universities, and should be taught in high schools all over the world. It is a complex novel that involves serious themes interwoven with a delightful, utterly fascinating story and a serious amount of Jungian psychology. I used this sheet near the end of the study as a group activity. This handout is useful if you are not sure what some of the themes are and/or you need some quotes to build the themes around. Refer to the Hamlet and Jung activity below for more information.
Novel Quotations for Analysis
When your students have finished doing all of the group work and questions, you'll want to see how well they have understood the "big picture" or major themes of the novel. The best way to do this is through analyzing "intensely significant" quotations from the novel. Here are two handouts on popular novels; the quotations can be assigned or grouped for group work (each group does three or four). The page numbers are, of course, approximate depending on the publication that you are using.
The Great Gatsby Setting Map
Setting is an important element in The Great Gatsby and Jill Hyatt, Wathena High School, has her junior students make a setting map. Jill says that she is "constantly amazed at the critical thinking, problem solving, and deep reading that goes on when I assign this map." All instructions are included with the assignment.
The Great Gatsby Facebook Project
Liza Kernan and Gina Fabrizio teach at Methacton High School in Fairview Park, Pennsylvania and they have come up with a great assignment for their 11th grade English students who are reading The Great Gatsby. The assignment looks as if it's a ton of fun and I'm sure that the students really enjoy the blending of a classic American novel with social networking. Liza can be reached for further information, or compliments, at LKernan@methacton.org
The Miracle Worker Trust Walk -- Grade 9
Winnie Wickstrom’s classes at Parry McCluer High School in Buena Vista, Virginia, have a novel and very appealing follow-up to their study of The Miracle Worker. The students participate in a Trust Walk wherein they simulate what it would be like to be blind. Winnie is at email@example.com
The Miracle Worker -- Using Your Other Senses
Jennifer Dickey Culver teaches at Houston Lee High School in Montgomery, Alabama . This activity takes two periods and builds upon the concepts needed to appreciate The Miracle Worker. Miss Dickey's Ninth Grade English Class has its own web site where you can see pictures of the class and follow some excellent links. Jennifer also submitted the Titanic Poetry lesson and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Miracle Worker -- Teach Someone Something
Jennifer Dickey Culver, see above, has another project\writing assignment for the Miracle Worker. However, this lesson could also be used as a stand-alone writing assignment or to tie into several other novels. Send all compliments and questions to Jennifer at email@example.com
The Miracle Worker -- The Business Letter Assignment
Carla Beard is pretty busy. Besides teaching English at Connersville High School in Indiana, she is also the guiding light at several excellent web sites including The Web English Teacher , Calliope: Muse of Eloquence, and Ms. Beard's Online English Faculty Library. This lesson is a good writing exercise which also involves careful examination of the text. You can send comments and questions to Carla at firstname.lastname@example.org
Elie Wiesel's Night -- PowerPoint Presentation
This lesson by Michelle Shimmin, who teaches at
Hillcresthas two separate handouts which you can get by clicking on the links below. Michelle can be reached at email@example.com High School, in Midvale, Utah,
The Crucible Essay
Teaching The Crucible? Need an essay topic with some instructions? Jennifer Dickey Hudson has submitted another lesson and this is a "basic" essay which can be adapted in a number of ways. You can download the Word format document by clicking HERE or get the plain text version by clicking HERE. Send comments or questions to Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Crucible Essay Test
Cathy Poston teaches both American and World Literature at Liberty Union High School in Baltimore, Ohio, and has submitted this essay test on The Crucible. It has a series of essay topics which you could use as a test or quite possibly as an assignment. Cathy can be reached at email@example.com
The Crucible Character Diary Project
Shannon Lupin teaches at Savanna High School in Anaheim, California and uses this lesson with her juniors after reading Act I of The Crucible. It combines critical thinking with creativity and requires a good knowledge of the plot as well. Shannon can be reached at SLupin@aol.com If you're interested in more lessons from Shannon, visit her web site by clicking HERE .
The Inferno -- Essay Topics
Cathy Poston, who submitted The Crucible Essay Test above, has also sent along a series of essay topics on Dante`s The Inferno. The assignment also includes a rubric for marking. Cathy teaches at Liberty Union High School in Baltimore, Ohio, and can be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Hooverville in Ancaster (The Grapes of Wrath)
This lesson's "purpose is to allow students to understand that the kind of discrimination practised against the migrant workers of the novel is not necessarily limited to a particular time period nor is it simply a novelist's construction." It was originally developed by English department head, Audrey Derii at Ancaster High in Ontario and submitted by Lorne Warwick who is at email@example.com
Grade Eight Book Project
This lesson is a very nice book project for a grade eight class, but that doesn't mean that you couldn't use it in almost any Intermediate class. The great part is that it combines creativity along with comprehension and analysis which is an important blending of skills. The creator of the lesson is Lynn Ouelette who teaches 8th Grade Language Arts at Jay Middle School in Jay, Maine (USA). Lynn uses her lessons in 90 minute periods (and I thought 76 minutes was long). Soon her Grades 6 to 8 school will become a Grades 5 to 8 in a new building. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to Top
Novel Newsletter Assignment -- Grade Eight
Lynn Ouelette has supplied another novel study that she has used with her Grade Eight class. This is a long-term assignment for middle school students who often need a set of instructions. The assignment handout actually supplies the students with the framework for organizing the assignment. You can contact Lynn to get more information (or praise her) at email@example.com
Book Chat -- book activity for pairs.
Lori Koplik of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, has a devised a book chat assignment . She writes that "I've done the Book Chats twice now. While the students are allowed to choose the novel, it is helpful if they are paired up so that their choices have something in common -- for example, two war stories, two mysteries, two coming-of-age stories, etc. The kids get very excited when they find similarities between two very different stories, though. I like this assignment because the students need practice listening and taking notes! A fellow teacher does "Buddy Books", in which students pair off and read the same book, sharing a journal between them. I've been meaning to try that one, too. which involves students in comparing and analyzing novels in pairs. This has tremendous potential for developing the skills of analysis and integration while fostering valuable work skills within the classroom. You will find other lessons by Lori on this site and they all have tremendous group skills linked with solid academic skills. She's at firstname.lastname@example.org
Biography/Autobiography Book Report
Let a student become a psychologist and diagnose a novel's main character. That's one activity in this lesson submitted by Lori Koplik. Lori can be reached at email@example.com
Short Story Assignment
This lesson is very much like one of the creative novel independent assignments, but it involves short stories. I don't know if the short story is a neglected genre, but this is one of the few independent study projects that I have seen for short stories. You could even use a short story assignment to introduce the work of many novelists and then if a student likes a short story, well then he or she can go on to read a novel by the same author. The lesson was submitted by Lori Koplik, who also sent in several other lessons, including the two above this one.
Lori can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Victorian Tea Party
The party is a tremendous activity for engaging your students in role playing, history, research, analysis, presentation skills and, well the list goes on. It will also require effort and planning on your part but the results should be rewarding. The lesson is an adaptation by Sandra Comeaux of Westlake High School in Westlake, Louisiana, in Calcasieu Parish. Sandra says that "I use the lesson in my twelfth grade college preparatory class during the study of the Victorian Age. I felt that the students would enjoy the research of their authors more if they actually "became "this author for the tea party. The lesson could be adapted in American ( or Canadian) literature with a different list of authors, or the research could be a collaborative project between English and history classes in any time period". If you need any more information, contact Sandra at email@example.com
Return to Top
Language Change -- Pre-Shakespeare Study
If your students hate Shakespeare because they don't understand the language, then maybe you should acquaint them with language change. This exercise is good for raising their consciousness about how weird we will sound in a couple of hundred of years. Yet will the movie SPEED be any less of a good movie in two hundred years just because the language and society have changed? Will we find it awful that future societies laugh at our old fashioned language? Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet are still dynamite plots hidden by the language. Remember "groovy"?
Shakespeare Research Assignment
This lesson, besides being very challenging, comes complete with instructions, a handout, and an evaluation scheme. It also looks much better in its original MS Word format, which you can download by clicking HERE. The lesson is submitted by Chantel Mathias who can be reached at Chantel@english-teaching.co.uk
This is another introduction to what it was like in Shakespeare's society. This one involves the crude state of dentistry. You can expand this by taking a survey on how many students have had either an infection requiring antibiotics, or measles, or chicken pox, or have had their tonsils removed, etc. Needless to say, in Elizabethan times, none of these students would have survived until they were their present ages, which probably explains why so many of the plays have dads trying to marry off their kids at such young ages. If you want to pursue this area further, there is an excellent web site which discusses most of the aspects of medieval society. If you have a friend who has the plague, or you are interested, it even has an interactive section where you use medieval methods to try to cure some common ailments of the middle ages. It's at http://www.learner.org/exhibits/middleages/townlife.html
Hamlet and C.G. Jung
Actually you can use a simplified version of Jung's theories to analyze characters in most novels or plays. Of course the characters have to be somewhat developed and believable. Try this approach to Romeo and Juliet and you'll see that Juliet is a finely rounded character with a lot more depth than your usual teenage heroine. This works really well with Robertson Davies' Fifth Business and Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel.
If you are looking for a creative but analytical way to get your students to understand the basic concepts of Hamlet, this may be the lesson for you. This is another lesson from Lori Koplik of East Greenwich, Rhode Island. It is not your usual drama activity and includes improvisation as well as developing group and individual skills. Lori can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
King Lear Group Work
- Pretty self-explanatory.
Macbeth Pie Chart and Seminar
There is no handout for this one but the lesson is easy and remarkably effective. The idea originally came from Peter Rootham, a math teacher, at North Grenville D.H.S. in Kemptville, Ontario. Divide the class into groups. Each group will decide on the percentage of blame for the killing of Duncan. You'll be surprised at the percentages; Lady Macbeth will probably get over 50% and Duncan about 5%. Give each group some markers and a sheet of chart paper and have them do a pie graph of the percentage of blame and then give an oral presentation to the class. You'll get some lively debate and they'll understand the play a lot better.
Return to Top
Macbeth Drama Assignment
I have a feeling that most of you have probably thought of this already. The idea is simple -- small groups of students pick a section of the play, re-write it using any period and setting that they want, and then dramatize the scene in front of the class (or on video tape). Here's my version...
Macbeth Comparison Assignment
This assignment by Lorne Warwick who teaches in Ancaster, Ontario uses a study of Macbeth to tackle the task of writing a comparison/contrast in his grade 11 class. Lorne sent along a very complete set of instructions which are appended to the top of the handout. He can reached at email@example.com
Macbeth Activity Using Alanis Morissette's "Wake Up"
Cheri Anderson of Eminence High School in Eminence, Kentucky has supplied the activity, the song lyrics, and examples of students' rewritten lines for this creative and interesting lesson. Cheri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Macbeth Soundtrack
If you had total control over the Macbeth soundtrack (if there was one), what songs would you choose? This is the creative assignment that Christy Horn of R. L. Turner High School in Carrollton, Texas gives her students. It is an interesting lesson which is easily adapted. Christy is at email@example.com
Shakespearian Sound Track
Lisa Scherff teaches Theory and Practice in Teacher Education at the University of Tennessee and was intrigued by the Macbeth soundtrack above and decided to submit a lesson in the same vein. Lisa says "this project worked so well that most students chose to do a song per scene and act!!! The
next year when I taught Hunchback they asked to do it for that novel". Lisa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Julius Caesar and History Newspaper Assignment
What were the major newspaper stories before and after Julius Caesar's death? This is the question which a class must answer after reading Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and studying the history of the era. Brad Coltrane teaches English at Hoover High School in Hoover, Alabama; "this project came from my recent efforts to integrate my curriculum with the other teachers at my grade level." He has also used it for Romeo and Juliet. Brad is at email@example.com
Analytical Shakespeare Quotations
A good way to test your students' comprehension of a play and develop analytical thinking skills is to have them analyze quotations from a Shakespearean play. This should always be done AFTER the play has been studied. The big problem is combing the play to find the appropriate quotes. Well, I did some of the work for you and have my handouts for several plays.
Romeo and Juliet Characterization Assignment Using MYSPACE
Koty Zelinka, who teaches at Portland High School in Portland, Oregon, decided that "with all the bad press out there about MySpace, I decided to find a way to not only teach students to be safe on the site but to explore the persona of major characters in Romeo and Juliet. This assignment could easily be adapted to any other piece of fiction with multiple characters, but Shakespearean plays work particularly well." The lesson is in MS Word Format. Koty can be reached for comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Romeo and Juliet Promptbook
In this writing assignment submitted by Koty Zelinka, a language arts teacher at Portland Lutheran School in Portland, Oregon, the students get to construct a version of the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, complete with stage directions. Koty has even included an example to help everyone understand the concept. Koty can be reached at email@example.com
Romeo and Juliet/Julius Caesar Media Assignments
These two assignments are very similar but each has one unique project and the themes connected to each play are different. Gaile Wotherspoon, who teaches at The American School of Kuwait, has called them "media madness " assignments and has included everything you'll need, including the lessons and marking schemes. Gaile can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Romeo and Juliet Group Poetry Activity
Suzanne Meyer teaches at New Hanover High School in Wilmington, North Carolina and she has submitted this lesson. This assignment is completed in one 90 minute block and uses various poetic elements while examining the themes from Romeo and Juliet. You can reach Suzanne at Suzanne Meyer <email@example.com>
The lesson is available in two formats; click on the one that you prefer:
> MS Word
> Plain Text
Return to Top
Persona Writing Assignment
Whom do your students idolize or want to be like? This is an assignment that developed from studying Robertson Davies' Fifth Business. It seems like fun, but it actually requires careful thinking and the application of ideas. It's suitable for most secondary grades and levels.
Mythology Review Using Poetry and Creative Writing
This is a lesson originally designed for Grade 9 Advanced students but it works well for senior levels as well. If your students have trouble remembering the names of all of those mythical heroes and you want a good writing assignment, this is the lesson. It uses poetry and creative writing to foster recall and understanding. Submitted by Kara Bettencourt, St. Bonaventure High School, Ventura California.
Greek Myths, Oedipus, Antigone ... and Star Wars
John Hoben is an English and History education student at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. He has also come up with a two current and intriguing lessons which should prove interesting and demanding for senior students. Both lessons use "The Return of the Jedi" to teach "timeless humanistic themes expressed through a culturally responsive drama". I have put both lessons on the same page for convenience but you can easily separate them. John also has a lesson for teaching poetry using "Stairway to Heaven" on the Poetry Page. You can reach John at firstname.lastname@example.org
Greek Feast Day Videos
Julie Miller, who teaches at the Livingston Academy in Livingston, TN uses the following assignment with her honors level sophomores. It counts as a project grade. She says that "they love doing it and and I love watching these videos. We watch them on "Greek Feast Day" when they each make an authentic Greek dish for a grade and bring it in to class for everyone to enjoy". Julie can be reached at email@example.comAntigone-- Screenplay Assignment
Judi Wyatt is a Canadian teacher who teaches at the American School in Lima, Peru. She has submitted a rather demanding assignment for Sophocles' Antigone which should test your students' creative and analytical skills. The lesson is also very adaptable for your particular class' abilities and knowledge. Judi is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mythological Character Research and Role Playing
This lesson has many aspects to it. Janis Little, who teaches at Brentwood High School, which is just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, devised this excellent lesson which is applicable to numerous grades and levels. She can be reached at Mr2little@aol.com
Allusion in Thornton Wilder's Skin of Our Teeth
Allusion can be a difficult concept to teach but this lesson makes it not only easier to understand but interesting as well. The person to thank for this highly adaptable approach is Beverly Lucey who now resides in Georgia after teaching in Massachusetts for many years. She can be reached at SwampDuffy@aol.com
Return to Top
Making a Movie Based on a Short Story
This is another lesson from Beverly Lucey and the short story the move is based on is “Brother Carlyle” by William Melvin Kelly, although you could adapt the assignment for any short story.
Kurt Vonnegut's "Tomorrow and Tomorrow..." -- role playing
One more lesson from Beverly Lucey. This is an interesting group role playing exercise which could probably be adapted for other works.
Interactive Approach to The Scarlet Letter -- Intermediate
The Scarlet Letter can be a very difficult novel to teach because of its language, time period and plot. However, Joe Mason, who teaches at the Amphi High School in Tucson, Arizona, has tried to make the teaching of the novel more interesting through the use of poetry, diaries, and presentations. This lesson includes one of the poems that is used as well as a great deal of Joe's comments about the material and how to use it. Joe can be reached at email@example.com
Hester Prynne and Monica Lewinsky -- shunning in society.
Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter can be compared to Monica Lewinsky and many other real life people who have been "shunned" by society. Marli Janata, who teaches at Lyndhurst High School in New Jersey, uses this lesson in her grade eleven class and involves them in reading the novel and researching a modern counterpart. Marli is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Book Club Discussion
This lesson was originally designed to be used with a grade 10 honours English class in the study of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe but it is very adaptable for many other literary works. Thanks for the lesson go to Janis Little, who teaches at Brentwood High School, which is just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. She can be reached at Mr2little@aol.com
Huck Finn Questions
Aaron Bristol who teaches at the Shelterwood School in Branson, Missouri, has sent along all of the questions that you will ever need for Huckleberry Finn. If you would like the answers to the questions, you can send me an e-mail request at email@example.com using your school e-mail account and include your name and specifically where you teach.
Beowulf Mock Trial
How would Beowulf have made out if he actually had to defend himself in an American court? Your class can learn a lot about the story, the legal system, and their abilities to play roles in this demanding lesson from Jill Kaliher who teaches at Hillcrest Christian School in Granada Hills, California. The handouts include all instructions, assignments, and a glossary and details of a courtroom procedure. Jill is available at firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to Top
In this challenging exercise, the main character in each assigned novel is put on trial. Beverly Jacobson of Mountain Home High School in Mountain Home, Idaho, decided on the trials instead of a test for her senior honors class. Beverly can be reached at email@example.com.
- The People vs. Guy Montag (Fahrenheit 451)
- The Animals vs. Napoleon (Animal Farm)
- The People vs. Jack Merridew (Lord of the Flies)
Dramatic Interpretation of A Streetcar Named Desire
This is a challenging dramatic interpretation which will develop and build on a student's knowledge of the play A Streetcar Named Desire. Thanks for the lesson go to Cheri Mann who teaches at Eminence High School in Eminence, Kentucky, a small rural school with about 120 students. There is also a rubric which can be used for evaluation; click here to download the rubric. Cheri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tea with Miss Alexandra -- To Kill a Mockingbird
Are you looking for a lesson for this novel which combines analysis, role playing and interactive fun? Then take a look at this one submitted by Christy Horn who teaches at R. L. Turner High School in Carrollton, Texas. Click HERE if you would like a fancier copy of the lesson in Word format. Christy is at email@example.com
Memory Box -- To Kill a Mockingbird
This is another interesting lesson from Christy Horn (see above) which involves constructing a box of memories for a character in the novel.
Tall Tale Assignment
Although this lesson stems from a study of To Kill a Mockingbird, it would also tie in to many other novels as well. Suanna Wingfield teaches English at Ouachita High School in Arkansas and uses the lesson in a writing elective class with sophomores and juniors. You can view the lesson in two formats (click on the appropriate one):
Tall Tale Assignment (plain text) Tall Tale Assignment (Corel WP format)
You can pass comments or questions on to Suanna at firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions and Answer Key for Billy Budd
Aaron Bristol teaches at the Shelterwood School in Branson, MO. and he has supplied over fifty quiz questions on Billy Budd complete with answers. Aaron is reachable at email@example.com
Return to Top
Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone
These lessons are designed to be used with The Philosopher's Stone, the first novel in the Harry Potter series. All of them have been contributed by Michael Jursic who teaches at the Ryerson Community School in downtown Toronto. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.orgWord Categories
Michael says that some of the categories that his students have come up with are "words beginning with A", "things you would not find in Mr. J's kitchen and "words from the personals ads".
The Hogwart's High School Assignment
This is his first big assignment of the year.
Draw a map to the Diagon Alley in your city.
Survival in Extreme (Magical) Circumstances
"This makes a wonderful wrap for the end of the book. Once the students are finished the book, they can begin writing one of your own. "
"The War Prayer" by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
Michael F. Jursic, an Applied Technology Teacher at Ryerson Community Public School in Toronto, has his class read and respond to "The War Prayer" as a response to the tragedy in NYC. He has included all of the instructions and questions for the lesson as well as the short story by Mark Twain. The story and its implications are very timely at this traumatic time in the world's history. Contact Michael at email@example.com
Exhibition for Grade 11 American Literature
This is a very demanding assignment which involves each student in selecting an American writer, reading a selection of his or her works, and then producing an oral and written product. Barbara Roosevelt of Chatham High School in Chatham, New York has supplied the lesson which includes a list of a broad range of American writers as well. You can contact Barbara for further info at firstname.lastname@example.org
Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat"
Barbara Roosevelt (see the Exhibition assignment above) has submitted a series of activities for Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat". If you need any assistance, Barbara is at email@example.com
Chaucer's The Wife of Bath poetry assignment
Cliff Green is a Language Arts teacher at Centennial High School in Corona, California and he gives this assignment to his 12th graders. "It is for use when studying the Canterbury Tales; the lesson is a poem demanding two poems one from the old woman and one from the knight. " You can get the stylized MS Word document by clicking HERE or the plain text version HERE. Cliff is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
Emily Brewer teaches The Canterbury Tales to her 10th graders at Yeshiva University High School in Los Angeles (California) and has produced set of handouts which includes a worksheet, a web quest, a "help the host" quiz, and a presentation complete with a grading rubric. Emily has formatted the pages with classic fonts and thus they are available for download only in MS Word (doc) format. You can send comments or questions to Emily at Msbreweryula@aol.com
- The General Prologue Worksheet
- Chaucer Web Quest
- Help the Host Quiz
- Pilgrim Presentation
- Pilgrim Presentation Rubric
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Lori Koplik is a prolific contributor to the site and this lesson is a good example of her thoroughness and creativity. It includes numerous activities and a concise explanation of how she used and developed the unit.
Lori can be reached at email@example.com
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
Differentiated instruction has become very popular as a teaching method and Betsy Mork Potash has submitted a wonderfully detailed and demanding differentiated project. Betsy teaches at the American College in Sofia, Bulgaria and you can direct compliments or questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can download the project in either of two formats:
Emma -- An in and out of class differentiated project of choices
This is another demanding and very thoughtful differentiated project from Betsy Mork Potash who submitted the project right above this one. You can contact Betsy at email@example.com.
The project is available in two formats:
A Life in Freeze Frame --- Independent Reading Project
This is a fascinating lesson wherein a student will select a character from a novel and "freeze the most significant, life changing, and important aspects of their life and create freeze frames of this individual’s life." The lesson has been supplied by Michelle Singh, a 10th Grade Language Arts Teacher of the gifted at the Robert Morgan Educational Center in Miami, Florida. Take a look and you'll be impressed. Michelle can be reached with comments and praise at MichelleSingh@dadeschools.net
The lesson is available in MS Word format or WordPerfect Format -- click on the format you desire.
A study in character development and all sorts of other cool literary devices
in the movie Jaws!!!!
Janice Van Campen is a teacher at École Lacombe Junior High in Lacombe, Alberta and she has kindly submitted a fascinating lesson in character development based on the Steven Spielberg film Jaws. She says that she usually saves this one for right before Christmas vacation or spring break. They take 3 classes to watch and enjoy the film. She has included a teacher info page and the assignment itself along with a link to a 30th anniversary perspective on the film. She also has submitted an interesting lesson on the poem The Highwayman which you can find on the Poetry Page. Janice can be reached for compliments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pigman -- Detailed Study Guide
If you're looking for a goldmine of thought-provoking questions and activities for the novel The Pigman, then you need look no further than this detailed and thorough study guide supplied by Christine Hutchinson who teaches Grade 9 English at NFA North Campus in Newburgh, New York. The guide is organized by chapters and by days and is extremely adaptable to being edited or used in its entirety. If you have questions or comments, Christine can be reached at email@example.com
Bugs? Questions? Comments? Submit a Lesson?
Return to Top