Links & Lesson Plans for High School English Teachers

So, this is a bit of a deviation from my usual content of book tags and writing snippets, but I’ve been in a Googling haze the last couple weeks compiling sample lesson plans and ideas for my sister, who is going to be starting at a new school this fall as a 9th-12th grade English/Language Arts teacher. In this spate of voracious Googling, I’ve been sending her a lot of emails — big, long, semi-organized lists of worksheets, videos, articles, lesson plans, short story .pdfs… if it has discussion questions and close reading activities, you name it, I’ve sent it. But, I keep running into the same problem: I’ll spend an hour putting together a huge list of links, only to send another email five minutes later with five more ideas I’ve found! This leads to a big email-y mess. Finally, I came to the conclusion that this inbox deluge needed to stop. I need a place where I can put all the resources I’ve found in a single comprehensible list that I can easily update.

Hence, blog post.

So, if you’re a teacher, homeschooler, self-educator, or someone who likes nosing around literature reading guides and lesson plans, you might get something out of this post! Below you will find a (hopefully well-organized) list of ideas and internet resources useful to a 9th ~ 10th grade English teacher.

Real quick: check out this Big Breakdown of a Freshman Year Curriculum It’s huge! Links to short stories, unit ideas, syllabus, everything. Really good to get an overall idea of what a year’s curriculum looks like.
Also there’s this Grade 9 Short Story Unit, which is also nicely put together, with some great homework writing assignments.

Holt Handbook for Grammar is an entirsne textbook of grammar lessons, exercises, and tests.

Holt Vocabulary Workbook with lessons on prefixes, roots, and making new words.
BBC GCSE English Literature resources, lots of plot videos and fun revision resources.
Now, the content below is divided into sections: Novels, Short Stories, Poetry, Speeches, Writing, Shakespeare, and the Miscellaneous (Other.) First up…
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indianThe Absolutely true diary of a part-time indian

5- Week Unit Lesson Plan (.doc) with lessons like “How Do Internal and External Expectations Shape Our Lives?” and “Who ___ Would Have Been if Somebody Had Paid Attention to Their Dreams.” There’s an anti-bullying lesson, “Taking a look at race: Is Hope White?”, “Internalizing Prejudices”, “How Does Culture Affect Our Expectations?”, Individual Versus Member of the Community, Gender Roles … lots of stuff here!
ShareMyLesson Unit this might go with the above? It looks like it’s the handouts and downloads of the above lesson plan.
Scholastic Resource with a pre-reading activity, vocabulary, and pdfs at the bottom of the page for analyzing character, drawing a narrative comic, and a teacher’s guide.
One Book One Philadelphia has a big lesson plan, with essential questions, map of Indian reservations, discussion questions, literary logs for “coping with trauma”, “white vs. Indian”, supplementary essays like “Off the Rez” and “Sorry For Not Being A Stereotype.”
RandomHouse Australia Unit breakdown of themes and symbols (Identity and Self Esteem, Poverty, Racial Discrimination, Bullying, etc.), chapter response questions, writing tasks, oral presentation topics, and essay prompts.
Who Am I? Is Not A Simple Question “In this unit, students will explore themes of individual and group identity.” Lessons like “Meeting the Book,” related poems, group projects, interactive notebook rubric, etc.

animalfarmAnimal Farm

Introduction to Animal Farm Incorporates a Vonnegut short story!! Has discussion questions, creative assignments, all sorts of things.
Animal Farm, Activities for Each Chapter Pretty great breakdowns of the chapters. Power Points have vocabulary, questions on characters, plot; first chapter alone asks about Orwell’s backstory, studies oratory by dissecting a character’s speech…
Discovering Propaganda in Animal Farm “This activity, designed to help students develop close reading skills, has them define and discover some types of propaganda used by the character Squealer in the novel Animal Farm.”
Penguin’s Teacher Guide to Animal Farm pre-reading activities, summaries of each chapter, discussion questions for each chapter, after-reading discussions, dramatic and creative/artsy activities.
Animal Farm Unit activities includes Reader Response questions, persuasive & propaganda activities, literary terms, and vocabulary
Bring Your Character in a Bag activity involving symbolism and characterization
Illustrated Animal Farm one of the 9th grade standards is comparing something represented across two mediums — could have students choose an illustration and write about the artist’s interpretation.

The Book Thief

New York Times: ‘The Book Thief’ and ‘Auschwitz Shifts From Memorializing to Teaching’ – Connects the novel and a NYT article with discussion questions / writing prompts, a video on a Holocaust survivor returning to Auschwitz, an essay from Elie Wiesel, and a discussion of whether the book is “too sad and dark” for teens.
Death Personified – Comparing a poem’s personification of Death to the novel’s and having the students write a poem of their own.
Common Core Activities by Random House – Researching Kristallnacht, debating genocide, researching the Declaration of Human Rights, virtual tour of the first concentration camp, etc.
Teach With Movies on The Book Thief – includes background info, pre- and post- reading activities, discussion questions, creative and responsive writing assignments.
Activities from the Perth Arts Festival – Book reviews, storyboards, diagramming relationships, visually interpreting themes of the novel.

The Crucible

Unit on the Salem Witch Trials Great background before reading The Crucible. Includes the suggestion of doing a one-time, whole-class reading of the play, assigning kids parts. This play really benefits from being read in one intense, exciting sitting, so this could be a great little unit.

Code Name Verity

Book Browse Reading Guide Pre-Reading Activities on WWII and Churchill, Discussion Questions, projects like researching the jobs women held in WWII, spy code, debating enhanced interrogation techniques like torture, as well as many writing activities, including interpreting/writing stories based off historical photographs.

TeachersPayTeachers Resource Set with a full unit on the novel.

The Curious Incident of the dog in the nighttime

curiousincident10 day lesson plan unit (downloads as a .doc) Starts off with articles on Asperger’s and Autism, an excerpt from Sherlock Holmes that kids compare with main character, creative writing, poems, Asperger’s webquest, scenes from Rain Man, essays, handouts about similes and metaphors — I love the emphasis on Asperger’s awareness!
Random House Reading Guide with close read & discussion questions.
A Novel Unit includes literary circles (reading groups), Sherlock Holmes vs. Christopher chart where you cite evidence from the book comparing Christopher to Sherlock (lots of standards met there),  quizzes, idioms and metaphors, Aspergers awareness, character monologues, the literary circles put together a portfolio, some really nice stuff here!!
Another Unit with essay questions, activities like creating a book cover, writing a new chapter from Christopher’s POV, lots of stuff here as well.

Ender’s Game

STEM Reads Ender’s Game Activities – Lessons on unusual creatures living in space, traveling to foreign planets, using real life scientific concepts to create their own creatures and extraterrestrial worlds, and finally writing a sci-fi story about their aliens.
Ender’s Game Activities – Including an Astronauts vs Buggers game, essential questions of the story, and some sample lesson plans and work sheets.
Ender’s Game Unit Plan – Direct Download. Uses vocabulary, predictions, guided reading questions, Readers’ Theatre, a persuasive essay, etc.
Novel Links for Ender’s Game – Includes Guided Imagery project, KWL, Magic Squares, relating the fight scene to Iraq soldiers. Useful things.
Ender’s Game Teaching Ideas – Includes a research project on historical figures like John Locke, Demosthenes, and Philip of Macedonia; understanding null gravitation; character analysis essay, etc.

fahrenheit451Fahrenheit 451


The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book: A Study Guide – vocabulary, questions, discussion, and analysis for each chapter. (This is GREAT.)
The Graveyard Book Unit
– Involved a scavenger hunt at a cemetery and talk by the funeral director. Links include sample lesson plans and discussion questions.
Tons of Discussion Questions and Essay Topics – Includes tons of great essay and short response questions (that come with quotes from the book for students to include), as well as activities involving gravestone epitaphs, creating a map of Bod’s graveyard, writing a ghoul song, researching the inhabitants of the graveyard, etc.
Novel Links Resource – Includes “A Poem For Two Voices” activity, “Protecting the Innocent” project to inspire a discussion on the themes of innocence and protection found in the novel, Directed Reading Thinking Activity ideas, vocabulary bingo, etc.
Official Teacher’s Guide – With discussion questions, vocabulary, and extension activities like designing a book trailer, illustrating a scene from the novel, doing a rubbing of a gravestone, researching monsters from the book, etc.

The Hobbit

thehobbitTeaching The Hobbit, Random House Includes critical essay on The Uses of Fantasy, and for each chapter there are comprehension questions, vocabulary, and discussion and essay topics, as well as a Critical Commentary section.
Houghton Mifflin: Teaching Tolkien has comprehensive lesson plans on the Hobbit based around the themes “the power of language” and “the quest in life and literature”
Novel Links for the Hobbit KWHL charts, very pretty multi-genre writing assignment, a guided imagery visualization that sounds a bit like meditation, and this Concept Analysis — these worksheets/lesson plans are beautiful!
SparkNotes Essay/Discussion Topics Some good ones here, like can Thorin be considered a good leader, or did he deserve his death?
The Hobbit Reference Guide
Reader’s Guides
scroll to the bottom for The Hobbit questions
The Hobbit trivia questions
A Guide to The Hobbit summarizes each chapter, has post-reading activities
Lesson Plans for The Hobbit contains vocabulary, discussion questions, little activities like writing a biography for Bilbo, finding evidence in the text that Bilbo didn’t simply dream up the dwarf party, write a letter in rune fonts, give examples of how Gandalf is manipulating the other characters throughout the novel, pretend you’re Bilbo and write a diary entry about your travels, write and illustrate a poem — there’s lots of good stuff here.

Hunger Games

Ted-Ed Talk What Makes A Hero? With a focus on Katniss
Hunger Games Unit Guide has discussion questions, a mapping activity, finding textual evidence to support Panem as a dystopia, project ideas, Symbols chart, short answer questions, Irony or Imagery chart, quotes and how they connect with the overall theme — really great stuff, here’s your whole lesson plan & how it relates to the literary themes right here!!
Introducing The Hunger Games with The Lottery Nice.
NYT Ideas and Resources For Teaching The Hunger Games Lots of good stuff here.
Gender Empowerment Lesson Plan (.pdf)
Hunger Games Commercial Activity (.pdf)
Hunger Games Lesson Plans and Handouts includes lots of maps of Panem
Hunger Games Lessons well this site has it all.
A Pre-Reading Activity creating a visual thesaurus
The Hunger Games Student Activities 
The Hunger Games Tasks 
includes writing a farewell letter to your family before you leave for the Capitol to be in the Games; writing a diary entry from Katniss’s POV, etc.
Hunger Games Writing Prompts
Study Guide Questions for Each Chapter
Novel Links Resource
Avoiding the Path to Panem 
using primary sources to figure out what led to Panem becoming what it is

I Am Malala

Resource Guide for Teachers – Opens with a message from her father. Includes individual and group activities broken down by the eight major themes of the novel.
Who is Malala Yousafzai? – Great lesson that includes a video on Malala, an article to read, all kinds of good stuff.
Malala Yousafzai’s Courage: Student Discussion Guide – with background information, and a video to watch and compare education in America and the Middle East.
Questions for Discussion – Questions like “Malala became an activist when she was very young. Discuss how you felt while reading about her experience. Where did Malala find her courage and inspiration?”

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Lesson Plans (pdf)
Discussion Questions
Big lesson plan breakdown chapter by chapter with enrichment activities
Yale lesson plan Includes worksheets & essay prompt.

lordofthefliesLord of the Flies

Penguin: A Teacher’s Guide to Lord of the Flies this is real nice. Chapter synopsis, background information, discussion questions for each chunk of chapters, lots of Reader Response journal prompts, possible essay topics, group and individual project ideas, and then suggestions for more books the kids would like if they enjoyed this one.
10th Grade Lord of the Flies lesson packet (excuse some horrible font choices) Has vocabulary worksheets, a great worksheet on Setting that goes into the author’s purpose of choosing that specific setting that asks for textual evidence; lit circle (reading group) questions to answer as they read; all kinds of stuff.
Discovery Education rundown which has discussion questions & vocabulary, as well as links to poems and extension ideas.
Nicely Designed Unit Plan with games, discussions on societal expectations & gender roles, a mock trial, lots of activities
Really Great Worksheets great pictures & design, plus the short answer responses require citations.
Post Reading Activities plus a rubric. Includes things like character sketches, poster of the novel’s climax, diagram of butchering a pig (lovely.)

The Martian

The Martian Lesson on Solving Communications Problems – 3 day activity where students research non-verbal communications like Morse Code, Flag language, etc., write a sentence inspired by the novel in code, and communicate it to a partner.
First Aid Lesson – Students study the injuries Watney earns on Mars and learn the real first aid techniques to treat them. (Highly useful life skill, actually.) Comes with these injury cards.
Designing a Hab – Students engineer an airtight compartment like the kind Watney has to survive in on Mars.
NEA Lesson Plans – Tons of resources on Mars for background research.
5 Ted Ed Talks to Help You Understand The Martian – Again, hugely useful for background research.
Teaching The Martian –  BookRags, for pay, but gives free samples of essay questions, discussion points, and other activities.
Penguin Random House Teaching Guide – Discussion questions, activities, connections to Apollo 13 and the movie Gravity.


Novel Links resource with tons of .pdfs. Thematic bibliography, Guided Imagery activity, Bloom’s Taxonomy Overview of Monster, anticipation guide, etc.
Great video introduction really great little video trailer to use to introduce the unit
eNotes Lesson Plans Includes vocab and study questions for each chapter
Monster By Myers this has stuff for Lit Circles, discussion questions, quizzes, and a pacing guide for how best to teach the novel.
BookRags Monster Unit This has objectives, lesson ideas, vocab, fun activities, etc.
Syracuse Schools Monster Unit
(.pdf) Pre-reading activity with a discussion, predictions, anticipation guide. Small group discussions. Two-part vocabulary list, and comprehension questions for each “day” of the book.
Mrs. Brown’s Monster Unit Webpage with links to to handouts, like a Biopoem, KWHL chart, discussion questions, and a quick overview of a possible daily plan.
Monster Unit (.doc) Let’s see … this goes into Cornell Notes, the 5 kinds of Context Clues, Walls that Teach ideas; goes into all the elements of a story — plot structure, types of characters, Bell Ringers, supplemental articles, goes into flashbacks and irony. This is about a 7 week lesson altogether.
Harper Collins Reading Group Guide with discussion questions
A Video Interview with the Author


Novel Links for Night including his speech “the perils of indifference”, and a great writing prompt: “You are a survivor of the concentration camp Auschwitz who has immigrated to the United States. Some of the SS officers who worked at Auschwitz are facing trial for their crimes against humanity. You read a newspaper article that has a quote from one of the men stating that he is not guilty of any crime.You are outraged and decide to write a letter to the man that will be published in the same newspaper.”
Oprah’s Book Club Teacher’s Guide Lots of comprehension questions
Glencoe’s Night Study Guide With activities, active reading charts to fill out, analyzing literature questions, a cool flow chart to track action, and worksheets for other related articles.
Yes, Virginia, There Was a Holocaust lots of interesting discussion topics and project ideas in here
Night Common Core Unit Plan
Using Technology to Analyze and Illustrate Symbolism in Night a ReadWriteThink Lesson plan

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men Unit Summary quizzes, quote quizzes, vocab, a jeopardy game
Teaching Allegory in Of Mice and Men
Of Mice and Men lesson
(.doc) Involves journal entries, strategies for ELL students, rubrics, essay prompts, a huge unit breakdown, worth looking through
Steinbeck Institute Of Mice and Men Unit Focuses on Essential Questions, creative writing diary entries, has interesting bell ringer questions, biopoems, etc
Handouts and Activities  includes timelines, characterization worksheets, group assignments. Some good-looking worksheets here!
Penguin’s Teacher’s Guide to Of Mice and Men summarizes plot, includes activities
Lots of Activities here found poems, KWHL, quite a few things worth looking at
Layered Learning Exercise Options activities students could choose from, like making their own multiple choice test for the novel, creating a character wheel or card game, writing their own short story that takes place in the 1930s, lots of culminating activity options.
Web Activity a cute computer lab project — matching quotes, putting events in chronological order, matching events with the right story theme.
Huge list of possible vocabulary

The Outsiders

Outsiders Introduction Activities
Background Information for The Outsiders
Warm-Up Activity
Outsiders Unit lesson plans Includes activities, poems, role play.
Outsiders Activities Character Analysis through creating a yearbook for the characters, a soundtrack for the book, a graffiti wall & essay, diorama
Vocabulary for The Outsiders
Chapter Questions and Essay Prompts
Sample Activities Including drawing cartoons, creating posters, selecting vocabulary words, writing poems, finding articles in magazines.
Lesson Plan Pack GREAT worksheets and lesson plans.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Rick Riordan’s Teacher’s Guide Includes root words and chapter-specific questions
Discussion Questions that makes a lot of connections to Greek Myths
A Hurricane Blowing In group writing activity
Scholastic’s Literature Circle questions including citations
Percy Jackson Unit Overview with suggested Greek Myths to also read, quest study, group reading discussion questions

Slaughterhouse Five

NPR Audio Interview Vonnegut talks to Terry Gross about “writing, censorship, and the experience of war.”
I Am Very Real the letter Vonnegut wrote to the head of a school board that demanded his books be banned and burnt.
Letters of Note letter Vonnegut wrote to his family after leaving POW camp in WWII. Here’s another version from a newspaper.
RandomHouse Teacher’s Guide with discussion and writing prompt ideas, studying a Vonnegut poem, research ideas, etc.
Reading Guides for the first 7 chapters with questions that could be discussion, quizzes, etc.
Independent Reading Guide with summaries of each chapter, post-reading activities, and related books
ReadWriteThink “A Brief, Urgent Message”
 Theme in Slaughterhouse Five.
Slaughterhouse Five essay topic (.pdf)
Chapter One Handout
there’s a typo (it says Part 2 twice) but this is a good little worksheet for the first chapter, talking about motif, the author’s intent of mixing fiction with non-fiction — good stuff.
Chapter Two Handout Analyzing quotes, summary questions, etc.
Chapter Nine Handout short answer analysis based on passage from text.
Single Sentence Animation Final Project involves creating a short video animation showcasing one sentence from the novel.
Slaughterhouse Five Lesson Plans includes a “writing science fiction” lesson plan, scifi short stories to read, analyzing humor, etc.

tokillTo Kill a Mockingbird

Library of Congress, Historical Perspective on To Kill A Mockingbird
Lesson plans Very detailed breakdown of chapter by chapter lesson plans! With lots of background in history, racism, slavery, prejudice, etc.
To Kill a Mockingbird Role Play For use after Chapter 21, role playing the character to discuss empathy, stereotypes, etc.
Justice For All? “Following a study of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, students will view the courtroom scenes in To Kill a Mockingbird and A Time to Kill and determine factors which influenced the verdicts in each trial.”
Teaching To Kill a Mockingbird A blog devoted to teaching the book. Has essay prompts, chapter break downs, vocabulary, activities.
NEA’s Mockingbird Plans 10 day lesson plan for the book
HUGE comprehensive lesson plan for a To Kill A Mockingbird Unit


Alice in Wonderland Analytic breakdown of Alice in Wonderland, talking about satire and symbolism, including discussion questions, vocabulary, etc.
Lots of Pride and Prejudice activities
Ideas for studying Kafka’s Metamorphosis Includes vocabulary, central theme, etc.
The Great Gatsby: Primary Sources from the Roaring 20s Even if you don’t do a Gatsby unit, this Library of Congress plan has some really cool 1920s resources, poems, articles, etc.
A Case for Reading Banned Books Includes Book challenge bookmarks, persuasive essay topics, etc.
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Short Stories

The second page of this .pdf has a great example of how to annotate short stories.
ALSO, this site gauges how long it will take to read certain text out loud. Very helpful!

This .pdf has a number of really short stories & passages with accompanying worksheets on a bunch of concepts, like figurative language, theme, understanding characters, making predictions, distinguishing fact from opinion … a lot of good stuff here.

Roald Dahl

Lamb to the Slaughter

Lesson Plan
Really Nice Lesson Plan much professional. Has a guided reading situation, vocabulary, very pretty work sheets.
Classroom Activities Includes a mock-trial!
Prezi presentation Includes a bell ringer, guided reading questions, etc. Big on irony.
The Landlady, Roald Dahl

Holt .pdf with close reading, prediction chart, and comprehension quiz.
.doc with some evaluative close reading, questions, etc

unit with worksheets nicely put together
Playing Detective Foreshadowing activity with standards defined
Cute Packet this has questions, a word search. Some questions do seem Portugal-based.

poeEdgar Allen Poe

3 minute mini-bio on Poe Nice introduction!
NEA Big Read Guide: The Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe
Edgar Allen Poe on Trial “Students role play a trial in which the narrator of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” is accused of murder, using perhaps the only defense available to him: not guilty by reason of insanity. Using specific passages from the text, students try to prove whether the narrator is, as he claims, “not mad” and knew right from wrong at the moment of the crime, or whether the evidence shows otherwise.”
Tales of Edgar Allen Poe Includes lesson, assessment ideas, vocabulary words, etc.
Holt Resource with close reading, focus on narrator and irony.

The Tell-Tale Heart

7 Minute Animation of the Short Story Great post-reading activity!
A Directed Listening-Thinking Activity for “The Tell-Tale Heart”
Acrostic poems, cartoon creator, writing techniques, vocabulary
Tone Analysis of the Tell Tale Heart has some great worksheets, guided reading, understanding quotes, really well put together
More Tell Tale Heart worksheets Has a cute film reel graphic organizer, some sentences to grammatically correct, worksheet on revising to make tense consistent, really well done work sheets. 

The Black Cat

Video about Edgar Allen Poe’s apartment, relating to The Black Cat
Themes and Essay Questions

Cask of Amontillado: 

Worksheet Two pages of vocabulary, literary terms, and questions.

Other Authors

All Summer In A Day, Ray Bradbury

Full Text
50 Minute Lesson Plan
with comprehension questions and simile/metaphor work
Socratic Seminar lesson plan includes 3 standards
Lesson Plan Focused on Theme Includes a comic strip activity
Another Lesson Plan with vocabulary, questions, etc. Lots of links and resources.
Textbook Lesson with the full text and close-read questions, a Science Link excerpt, activities like writing a persuasive letter or movie proposal.
Another Close Read resource

Broken Chain

Close Read with focus on conflict, plot diagramming, and vocab

The Birds

Historical Background (pdf) Includes discussion questions, like If there were three things you could give to Nat’s family in order to survive in “The Birds,” what would you pick?; Why do you think the birds attack?; This is a horror story written for an audience 50 years ago. Does it still frighten us today?
Sample assignments: (no link, just some ideas:) list foreshadowing examples that contribute to the ominous mood; write their own ending for the cliffhanger; discuss themes such as war and the depiction of women as strong or weak.
Powerpoint Presentation (hopefully that’ll open)

Everyday Use, Alice Walker

Full Text
Analyzing Characterization and Point of View 
(.pdf) Includes biography, a bellringer (quick write) prompt, characterization chart, response questions, and an assignment of creating a poem with two voices.
Character charts, essay questions, webquests, full unit Walks them through planning a thesis statement and writing a whole persuasive essay
Related Lesson: In the Eye of the Beholder Exploring and Creating Folk Art from Everyday Items
Great Worksheets Language and grammar, really good resource.

Flight, Doris Lessing

Full text pdf, 4 pages
Comprehension Lesson Guide with lots of questions and analysis
Plot Video

Gift of the Magi, O. Henry: 

Text (pdf)
Worksheet Two page worksheet with vocabulary, literary terms, a plot diagram, and questions
Another Worksheet (pdf)
Questions, Worksheets, and Test (pdf)

The Gold Cadillac 

Close Reading Full Text Holt Resource

The Interlopers, Saki

Holt .pdf with vocabulary, close reading, POV work, comprehension test practice
Conflict in The Interlopers
full lesson plan
Vocabulary and Questions Handout (.docx)
Handout including study guide, literary terms, and characterization chart
Comparing The Interlopers to the Hatfields and McCoys
How Ironic! 
finding the 3 kinds of irony in The Interlopers

The Lotterylottery

full text (pdf)
The Minister’s Black Veil 

Holt Resource will close read & questions

A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift
Holt .pdf with close reading, irony work, vocabulary, prefixes, and persuasive technique work
The Most Dangerous Game

Worksheet vocab, lit terms, questions
The Most Dangerous Murder Trial “Students will interpret information from the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” to help them prove the innocence or guilt of Sangor Rainsford.”
Google Doc of Worksheets Gandhi quote that makes for a great bellringer, conflict/complications chart — lots of great things to use!
Holt Reader for The Most Dangerous Game with an emphasis on plot structure, vocabulary, close reading, and comprehension test prep

Mother and Daughter, Gary Soto

Holt Close Read plus characterization chart and vocabulary comprehension

The Necklace, Guy de Maupassant

Worksheet lit terms, vocab, characterization
The Tools of Fiction (pdf) HUGE lesson plan with close read/discussion questions and creative writing assignments. “In this unit, students will do an in-depth study of the elements of fiction and literary devices, providing a scaffold from which to examine Guy de Maupassant’s short story, “The Necklace.” Reinforcement of the literary elements is provided through a variety of auditory, visual and kinesthetic lessons with an emphasis on writing.”
Critical Thinking Questions
Close Reading Worksheet 
(pdf) Includes a cool skeleton worksheet for “fleshing out” characterization.
The Open Boat, Stephen Crane
The Open Window:

The Ransom of Red Chief

Close Reading and Text-Dependent Question Lesson
Full Text
that introduces O. Henry, Irony, and Ransom of Red Chief — perfect!
Close Read questions, focus on irony
Comic — Ransom of Red Chief in the future

Reunion, John Cheever

Full text pdf, 3 pages

A Rose For Emily, William Faulkner

Culture, Character, Color, and Doom: Close Reading Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” With 7 Aligned standards, this lesson includes chunked text, vocabulary, guided practice, etc.
Lesson Plan asks how death reflects a society’s opinion of a person. Then students write Emily’s epitaph.
Discussion Questions plus an Emily Dickinson Poem to go with the story
A Rose For Emily Part II lesson idea with grammar to correct, a video, a graphic organizer, etc. (Here’s Part I)
Vocabulary Ideas and questions about the story.
Close Read information plus questions at the end (.doc)

Saturday Climbing

Full text pdf, 6 pages

 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Worksheets A hot air balloon graphic for I think cause/effect, and then a crossword for vocabulary. The last page is one of those grammar sentences you can do over the projector.
Unit for Walter Mitty has day by day plans, graphic organizers, etc
General lesson plan has guided questions, graphic organizers, all sorts of things

The Setting Sun and Rolling World

Full text pdf, 3 pages
Writing Assignment, based on symbolism in short story

The Sniper, Liam O’Flaherty

Lesson on Conflict and Suspense

A Sound of Thunder, Ray Bradbury

A Sound of Thunder Lesson Plan (.docx)
GREAT textbook resource, with a close-read of the text, style chart describing mood, and test practice
Time Travel Writing Assignment Students create a Powerpoint after studying cause and effect
PreReading Powerpoint background on Ray Bradbury and science fiction
Worksheet Study Guide
Good Resource 
with guided reading, Latin root words, and test practice
Full Text with a few questions at the end

Storm, Gary Paulsen

Close Read with questions on POV and vocabulary test prep.

The Story of an Hour

Full text

Tuesday Siesta, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Close Read Analysis Worksheet
Full text pdf,
6 pages

Thank You Ma’am

Close Read (pdf)
Great looking Handouts Graphic Organizer worksheet on Point of View, test prep questions
Questions Worksheet great questions, plus a writing assignment.
Text-dependent questions and a writing task
Yale Lesson Plan Finding Voice through Personal Narrative
Performance Task Students write a letter to a judge asking them to drop charges
Integrity and Thank You M’am Includes standards, journal response rubric, etc.

Three Skeleton Key

Holt Reader with close reading, suspense work, vocabulary and comprehension.

Three Wise Guys

Holt resource with close reading, vocabulary, and literary terms quiz

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez

Worksheet LOTS of questions
Imagery Chart
Do You Really Believe in Magic? Includes lesson ideas, guided practice, discussion questions, etc. Includes lists of standards at the end.

The Yellow Wallpaper

Writing Women interesting lesson, lots of close read-type questions
Comparing The Yellow Wallpaper to two Dickinson Poems Lots of questions, a close-read of the poems, some good stuff! Great essay prompt at the end, comparing the story to a third Dickinson poem.
This Lesson includes the author’s essay “Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper'”
30 minute audio file of the story

Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Young Goodman Brown” and Early New England Gravestones THIS IS AWESOME. Learn about the symbolism and allegory, then do an activity where you look at New England Gravestones of the time period and analyze the symbolism in their creepy and amazing carvings.
Young Goodman Brown teacher’s guide
 discusses introducing story as an allegory, suggests charting the symbols
Breakdown of Symbols and the Possible Allegory things like the Forest, Salem, Faith, allegorical to a morality play, loss of innocence, etc.
Symbolism, themes, and parts of speech in the story includes essay questions

Analyzing Character Development in Three Short Stories About Women Includes a Faulkner short story.

The Horror, The Horror NYT lesson plan that uses short story bits or excerpts from horror novels to study foreshadowing, suspense, and other elements of horror.

(There’s also a more in-depth lesson plan along similar lines available on readwritethink: Ghosts and Fear in Language Arts. Has a whole bunch projects kids could do for a “Fright Fair”, and lots of short story examples.)

Teaching the Epic Through Ghost Stories Students begin by examining ghost stories and brainstorming a list of qualities that make the stories vivid and interesting. They then use a literary elements map as they write a ghost story they have heard, but have never seen written, and then share their stories orally with the class. Finally, students explore the genre of epics and how they are related to oral storytelling.

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Analyzing the Theme of Freedom in 3 Speeches Fits 3 standards, includes names of speeches, writing assignment, group activities, and assessment. (Students define freedom based on three freedom-themed speeches and make an argument about a current political topic referencing their definition and citations from the speeches.)
Gettysburg Address, A Close Read A whole lesson plan breaking down a close read of Lincoln’s address.
Analyzing Famous Speeches As Arguments Great study in speeches as persuasive writing.
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Maya Angelou

Diction in Maya Angelou’s Poem “Remembering” Students annotate poem & discuss it. This goes nicely in depth through all the lesson plan elements.
Maya Angelou, Study and Response to poem “Still I Rise” Short biography of Maya Angelou and study of the poem. Includes discussions, activities, questions, everything.
Biography and Poem another holt resource with close reading questions, poetry, and an interviewing the author assignment
Analyzing Word Choice, Meaning, and Tone in Poetry  “In small groups, students are given a small collection of words and phrases clipped from selected poems. They predict the meaning and tone they expect a poem containing those words and phrases to have. They then read and analyze their poem, modify or confirm their earlier expectations, and come to a final conclusion about how the author’s word choices impact meaning and tone.”
A Harlem Renaissance Retrospective Greatly detailed, with poems, songs, art, venn diagrams, creating a museum exhibit, etc.
Discovering a Passion for Poetry Through Langston Hughes Great unit. “Create an online visual representation of one poem’s meaning supported by examples from research, Orally present the poem and its relevant historical connections, Compose an original poem that reflects a personal view on a current social issue.”
Exploring MLK’s Words through Diamente Poetry
Found Poetry with Primary Sources, The Great Depression Another Library of Congress lesson plan, meticulous.
Story Tellers and Poets Using folktale and poetry together!
The Works of Emily Dickinson Another NEA Big Reads Teacher’s Guide
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blurrynotebookWriting (Creative, Persuasive, etc.)

Creative Writing 10 Minute prompts Powerpoint of cute, random writing prompts to bolster creativity.

Creative Writing, Pictoral Inspiration Very cool selection of paintings that the students analyze and use to tell a story. Could project paintings on the board for use in writing prompts.
Lesson Plans on Persuasive Writing Really cute worksheet and a helpful powerpoint.
 Aim for the Heart: Using Haiku to Identify Theme Uses creating haikus in the later stages of writing papers to see if the paper is focused on what the student is trying to say.
“Modernizing” old fairy tales or classics with today’s technology NYT lesson plan with article and writing exercise
Journal Prompts in response to literature It’s the second or third heading. Prompts like “Choose a situation and tell what you would’ve done differently” or “Re-write the ending.”
Exploring Literature Through Letter-Writing Groups “Students begin by exchanging letters that explore an issue or idea from a selected text. They discuss ways of writing open-ended letters that foster discussion, leaving room for responses to their letters, and keeping letters focused on a point.” — Shows students how to openly discuss a thought/literary work!
From Friedan Forward — Considering a Feminist’s Perspective. “Students first freewrite about the potentially controversial topic of feminism, and share their thoughts in a class discussion. They read and discuss the short story “We” and Betty Friedan’s “The Problem That Has No Name” and review the history of feminism and the goals of the feminist movement. After examining their own feelings about those goals, each student writes a letter expressing his/her views on the topic.”
Having My Say: Multigenre Autobiography project “They compose a multigenre paper that includes the autobiographical narrative essay as well as an informational nonfiction piece that provides context for and connections to the story from their life.”
Literary Parodies: Exploring a Writer’s Style through Imitation “asks students to analyze the features of a poet’s work then create their own poems based on the original model.”
Propaganda Techniques in Literature and Online Ads This would go well with a 1984 or Animal Farm unit; culminates in a persuasive essay.
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Tempest Teacher’s Guide if you scroll past the play-specific stuff, there’s a modernized Shakespearean language worksheet, a background & fun facts sheet that contains a map, a handout about the romance genre & creative writing project, real cool Elizabethan Magic worksheet, Facebook character study project, diary or blog entries, Pinterest mood board, vocabulary — REALLY well put together.
Penguin Teacher’s Guide to The Tempest Synopsis of each scene, scavenger hunt pre-reading activity, anticipation guide questions, group projects, Reader Response prompts for each act and scene, after-reading discussion questions, and related readings for interested students
Four Corners Pre-Reading Activity has the students reading an article, then doing some agree/disagree project moving around the room
Reading Strategies big list of activities, including KWL charts, a shipwrecked project, bingo, “think aloud annotation,” “chalk talk” discussion, etc.
Tabloid-esque introduction to the Tempest Runs down the characters, plot, done by BBC.
Tempest Bell Work that involves inference and quotations
Tempest Unit with short answer & multiple choice questions, vocabulary, daily lessons, crossword puzzles and word searches (that are quizzes in and of themselves)

Romeo and Juliet

Curriculum Guide Cute character connections page, tips for teaching Shakespeare, 17th Century pickup lines (could be really fun), nicely designed “Did you know?” R&J facts sheet
CrashCourse Romeo and Juliet Part 1 and Part 2 John Green is a wildly popular YA author who teaches a whole mess of stuff in his Crash Course videos. (These are great, I highly recommend watching them!)
Reading Guides for each Act with quizzes, crosswords, vocabulary, literary terms, questions for each scene, lots of resources here for a fully planned unit!!
Penguin Teacher’s Guide for Romeo and Juliet Before reading activities, examinations of the puns, metaphors, and other parts of speech used throughout the play, research topics, essay prompts, a diary activity, etc.
Teaching Romeo and Juliet hourlong video about teaching the play
Comparing Primary Source Documents, Romeo and Juliet has a worksheet about identifying similes, students read a poem and compare it to the play, discussion of plagiarism
Romeo and Juliet Interactive Folio nice resource. Has text of play with links to definitions, videos, pictures, translations, etc.
Double Teen Death Horror BBC tabloid-esque rundown of R&J
You Kiss By the Book Includes analyzing the text, Sonnet Unscrambler, etc.
ReadWriteThink R&J for Digital Age Students create modern interpretation of certain events/scenes from the play
Perfect Mate worksheet Where students choose their perfect mate’s traits — and what their parents would choose for them. Can involve parents in the survey, too!
Analyzing Sonnet Structure group project
Pre-Reading Romeo and Juliet, the Prologue  groups preform the play’s prologue
6 Week Unit on R&J Includes rewriting activities, types of love, compare/contrast
Culturally Responsive Lesson Plan Group projects, KWL charts, etc.
ReadWriteThink “Tragic Love” a pre-reading activity
Romeo and Juliet Lesson Plans making shields, links to teaching irony, etc..


Curriculum Guide Cute 32 Second Macbeth activity, paradox and equivocation handout, nicely designed Did You Know and Famous Quotes pages
Penguin Teacher’s Guide Includes ideas to acquaint students with the play, literary devices, ways to make reading easier, writing and discussion activities.
Shakespeare for the Developmental Reader a potentially important resource for how to teach Shakespearian language to lower level readers.
Macbeth Activities including research topics and a debate over whether there was ever really a ghost in the play.
Choices for Macbeth-related Activities includes defining vocabulary, writing a song, creating a poster, board game, comic strip, modernized adaptation of a scene in the play. Great discussion/research questions down at the bottom. (Is lust for power environmental or innate?)
Novel Links Macbeth Resources Includes things like a vocabulary crossword puzzle, literary devices, creating a character bio poem.
Lesson Plans for Macbeth Links
Fear and the Dagger of the Mind
 analyzing metaphors to reveal Macbeth’s response to fear, includes discussions on fear and horror, and a wordless performance of the dinner banquet scene.
They Smack of Honor Both: Macbeth & Nonfiction Comparing Macbeth to its original source
Macbeth: What’s Up with the Crime Scene? Pre-reading script-writing activity
What Are These…? Students study wood cuttings and write a paragraph of their interpretation of the Weird Sisters
Mac-DEATH another BBC tabloid summarizing the play
Background Information on Macbeth including lots of rather gruesome trivia
Example of a Macbeth hand-out really well done. Part of this teacher’s new Macbeth unit.

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Prove it! A Citation Scavenger Hunt “A citation scavenger hunt is a fun and challenging way for students to practice finding citations that support details about the characters, plot or themes from a text.”
Play: Raisin in the Sun (pdf) Lesson and essay questions on strong women.
Pick a Playwright “Students will perform internet research to gain information on a playwright of their choice. The students will individually prepare a PowerPoint presentation reporting their findings. The student’s PowerPoint will cover a brief biography on the playwright, his/her time and place in history, plays he/she wrote and a summary of one play they read by the playwright.”
Mandela, the Influence of Culture Study of Nelson Mandela. Includes a huge list of the standards met.
Facebook Layout for Lesson Plans A mock Facebook page for use in creative projects — create a FB for an author, a book character, etc!
Establishing Greek and Latin Root Words Worksheet and powerpoint that studies root words and encourages students to use the root words to create creative sentences.
Picture Tells the Story  A great lesson with the graphic novel Persepolis, about improving comprehension.
Exploring Satire with Shrek well this is something different
For Argument’s Sake: Playing ‘Devil’s Advocate with Non-Fiction texts Features an NPR audio and a group activity analyzing an article on sports reform.
Id, Ego, and Superego in The Cat in the Hat Great reviews on this. Teaching psychoanalytical criticism with Dr. Seuss!
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Good lord. That’s it for now, but I’ll probably be updating this continuously, because for some reason “finding free lesson plans” is a new, exciting, addictive hobby of mine??? I haven’t even started on videos, articles about reading & books, or any of the ins and outs and in betweens. If you’ve got a similar addiction to lesson planning, watch this space!
Here are some more ideas, messily added to the end of this post because what is organization, really?

Flip the Script: Confuse and Conquer Classroom Trouble Makers

50 Actions That Will Grab Your Students’ Attention

Fun Activities for High School English Teachers — walking to the “tune” of poems to appreciate iambic pentameter; drawing portraits of each other and then writing an analysis of it; first lines of literature game.

Group Activity on piecing cut-up portions of articles back into place. Emphasis an appreciation of organization in writing.

Cell Phone Worksheet Activity to use for any character

Police Report Worksheet for use after any crime in a story


Remember Your Roots: Free worksheet & link to 5 worksheet lesson all about Greek and Latin root words.

Only You Can Prevent Thesaurus Abuse Free Worksheet, deciphering overly-thesaurus’ed idioms

Host a writing competition: one week where students write essays, peer-review each other’s work in groups, and vote on the best (I think you could do a March Madness style competition?).


Introduce and define poetic terms: How To Read A Poem;

Teaching Poetry Analysis Like A Pro

Introduce Poetry by Dissecting Song Lyrics This lesson has students choosing a song (or several), looking up the lyrics, and finding 8 examples of poetic terms from a list. They then create a storyboard of their examples (could have them define the term, quote the song, draw a picture, etc.) and present them to the class.

Create a Spooky or Funny Halloween Poem have students write their own poetry themed around Halloween

An Incident in the Rose Garden: Figurative Language and Gothic Horror  Includes a powerpoint that dissects the creepy poem, a worksheet analyzing figure of speech, and a creative writing assignment of what the students think death would look like, and what they would do should he suddenly appear to them.

12 Ideas for Poetry Stations — any combination of these could work as centers or individual activities!

Short Stories

A lesson comparing Saki’s The Open Window to Shirley Jackson’s The Possibility of Evil; includes power points and comprehension quizzes for both short stories and an assignment of an essay comparing and contrasting them both.

Analyzing A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote — great December lesson


One thought on “Links & Lesson Plans for High School English Teachers

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