A series of three lessons on Chapter 5 of Of Mice and Men, with a focus on Curley’s Wife. These consider whether she is a victim or villain.
With chapter 5 of this novel, I think it’s important to read the chapter all in one go. As such, the first of these lessons focuses on what our previous opinions were of her, and then has a reading session. At the end of the lesson, pupils are asked to summarise what Curley’s wife’s dream was in a paragraph.
In the second lesson, pupils start to consider their own ideas about whether she can be considered a victim or a villain. Starting by looking at what other characters think of her, pupils consider that there are different perspectives from which to look at her character. From there, pupils can use a worksheet to find quotations to back up both sides of the argument, before summarising opinions of her in a paragraph.
Attached to this download is an extract, looking at the description of her shortly after she has been killed. I find this works rather well as a homework task, as pupils work independently to analyse the extract and pick out quotations that prove different ideas about her, before writing a paragraph considering how she can be considered to be misunderstood.
The third of these lessons looks at practising persuasive writing skills: pupils are tasked to write a persuasive speech, arguing whether Curley’s wife was a villain or a victim. The lesson starts with a short example piece of persuasive writing, which is about Curley, and pupils are asked to identify the persuasive techniques within it as a starter activity. From there, pupils discuss whether she is a villain or a victim (you might want to make two separate lists on the board during this). The majority of the lesson looks at persuasive writing, with pupils producing their own speech. You could end this lesson with self or peer assessment, with pupils spotting the persuasive techniques in their work, as they did in the starter activity.
I’ve designed these lessons for a lower-ability GCSE class, so therefore they could easily suit KS3 too. You could comfortably make them more challenging by removing some of the examples given.
Two lessons and an essay plan + example about chapter 4 and Crooks in Of Mice and Men.
The first lesson starts with a close look at the opening description of Crooks’ room, asking pupils to pick out lines which give us a clue about his personality from just the first couple of pages.
From there, pupils read up to Candy’s arrival in the chapter, and are challenged to consider what themes Crooks teaches us about. Key quotations relating to the themes are picked out, which make for good starters for discussion and are also important quotations for pupils to annotate and learn. From there, pupils answer questions about how Crooks relates to these themes.
The second of these lessons focuses more on the novel’s context. Pupils are taught about the Jim Crow laws and the concept of lynching, before going on to read the remainder of the chapter and discussing how we can see evidence of this treatment of black people in the novel.
From there, pupils are challenged to plan and write an essay about Crooks and his importance in the novel. These resources include a suggested planning sheet (I’ve written this for a lesson when I know I’ll be absent, so pupils should be able to work through that fairly independently), and the start of an example essay (intro and first two paragraphs). You could use the example in various ways: you could give the opening to pupils and challenge them to carry on, or you could use it as an example once you’ve marked the essays and challenge pupils to improve their own work.
I’ve written these lessons for a fairly low ability GCSE class, hence the structured essay plan. You could easily make this more challenging by providing less structure for the essay, or asking them to come up with their own discussion points about how Crooks relates to the novel’s themes.
Two complete lessons on Chapter 2 of The Woman in Black. The focus is on foreshadowing in the chapter, and the lessons encourage plenty of close analysis.
The term ‘foreshadowing’ is thoroughly introduced in the first lesson, and pupils are encouraged to see how this is done through the use of pathetic fallacy. In the second lesson, pupils work on close analysis of extracts from the text, and then are asked to write a mini-essay summing up the foreboding in the chapter, with an opportunity for peer review at the end.
A series of four lessons on chapter 2 of Of Mice and Men, looking at characters, hierarchy and building up to writing an essay - with an example.
The first of these lessons focuses on the setting, with pupils comparing the setting of the second chapter to the more tranquil and peaceful opening.
In the second lesson, pupils focus on the concept of hierarchy, and as they start to meet characters they start putting them into hierarchical order.
In the third lesson, we meet Curley’s wife and Slim, and consider how they are presented as characters that the reader is supposed to either like or dislike. There is opportunity to discuss the extent to which the reader’s opinion of Curley’s wife is tainted by the expectations we have of her following Candy’s description of her as a ‘tart’ previously.
In the fourth of these lessons, pupils plan and prepare to write an essay looking at the society of the ranch. They return to the previous ideas about ranch hierarchy and there is opportunity to see if their ideas about the hierarchy have changed now that they have read a little more: you could make this as interactive as you like, depending on the class.
I’ve provided a planning sheet with clear paragraph ideas, and an example essay that perfectly matches it: you could use it prior to writing the essay, or use it as a self-assessment tool following essay writing.
I’ve created these lessons for GCSE pupils, and they could be easily tweaked up or down to suit your group.
A lesson looking at Banquo’s murder and ghost in Act 3 of Macbeth. The lesson starts with some context about Banquo, and goes on to look at Act 3 Scene 4.
This lesson focuses on how we can see Macbeth starting to show signs of madness in Act 3, and includes links to three different productions of the scene.
There is detailed historical context about the history of Macbeth and how this was relevant to James I- very important for a lot of exam boards!
Pupils have the opportunity to see how Macbeth is starting to show signs of madness, and then also consider his relationship with his wife.
There is a choice of two tasks at the end looking at his relationship with Lady Macbeth, one looking at a more advanced comparison-style paragraph, and one more simple asking for separate paragraphs- these work particularly well for homework and can be tweaked to suit the ability of pupils.
Two lessons on the first chapter of Of Mice and Men, focusing on Lennie and George’s characters, and what we learn about their dream, relating to context.
(These would form my second and third lessons on the novel overall, following an initial introduction to the historical context.)
The first of these two lessons includes some close analysis of the opening passage of the novel, asking pupils to pick out language that makes it seem idyllic. Following a section of reading, pupils are asked to analyse some quotations about Lennie and George, considering what we learn about their personalities and their relationship. This is structured for a lower ability class, but this could easily be made more challenging by removing some of the hints and pre-filled boxes on the worksheet. Consistent links are made to historical context throughout, and pupils are asked at the end to find all the evidence they can which suggests these two are typical migrant workers. The lesson ends setting a homework task, writing up their ideas about the characters.
NOTE: I tend to start this lesson with a recap on the context learned previously, and there is a nice matching activity here: https://www.teachitenglish.co.uk/resources/ks4/of-mice-and-men-by-john-steinbeck/prose/of-mice-and-men-match-the-contextual-information/8558
I obviously can’t sell it as my own, but it’s pretty useful!
The second of these lessons focuses more on the end of the opening chapter of the novel, in which Lennie and George discuss their dreams. After a discussion about dreams, which should be steered towards getting pupils to understand the desire to own stuff and be one’s own boss, read the end of the chapter while noting the ideas about the dream as you go. Pupils can then be split into teams for a game: using the sheet with a list of points about the dream, cut up into separate slips of paper, each team needs to find a quotation that matches each point. It’s a great activity to get pupils thinking about how their evidence actually proves their point, thus improving their analytical writing. Each team sends one member to the teacher to explain their idea, and then is issued the next slip of paper to go and work on. These slips can then be used in the written activity at the end of the lesson. I’ve provided an example paragraph, and focused on discussing the context of the novel as relevant to the question.
I’ve designed these lessons for a lower-ability GCSE class, but they could easily be tweaked by removing scaffolds to make them more challenging, and they would be useful at KS3 too for schools who no longer teach OMAM at GCSE level.
Two lessons on chapter 5 of The Woman in Black, focusing on description in the novel, of Eel Marsh House and the woman herself, with opportunity for creative writing.
The first lesson focuses on description of the landscape, and asks pupils to create their own description of the house as they walk up towards it, scaffolded with a planning sheet.
The second lesson looks at the extract in which Kipps describes the woman, and considers what we learn about her and her character.
A series of four lessons on chapter 3 of Of Mice and Men, with focuses on Slim, Candy’s dog, dreams, and the fight at the end of the chapter.
This series of lessons starts with a lesson on Slim, which compares him to Curley and then goes on to look at why Slim has as much power as he does. There is opportunity for pupils to analyse some key quotations, which therefore provides a useful quotation list for revision.
The second lesson looks and Candy’s dog’s death and the concept of survival of the fittest, and ends with a comparison between the relationship between Candy and his dog with that between George and Lennie, allowing pupils the possibility to predict what will come later in the novel.
The third lesson focuses on the description of the dream that we see in this chapter, in which George goes into much more detail about what their plans are. There is a worksheet with an extract for pupils to annotate, with some questions to guide their annotation as a support.
Finally this series of lessons ends with a look at the fight scene at the end of the chapter, and considers how Candy, who has been an observer for much of the action of this chapter, has reacted to it all with a diary task.
I’ve used these lessons for a couple of years now, with classes of mixed ability. Prompt questions can be removed to make things more challenging for the more able. Moreover, I’ve used these lessons when we’ve been working in the classroom and remotely, and have found that they’ve translated quite well into remote-learning: for example, the annotation activity can be done on Google Docs or similar, with pupils using the comments function to make their notes.
A series of three lessons on Chapter 1 of The Woman in Black. Focusing on the concept of ghost story, and then moving on to look at close analysis of extracts describing setting.
Pupils are engaged by setting the scene, reading a traditional ghost story by firelight (personally I always use the log fire on Netflix to try and recreate this!) and in later lessons analyse two separate extracts in detail. Includes a detailed teacher example of an analytical paragraph, so that progress is scaffolded to support weaker students.
A series of three lessons looking at chapter 4 of the Woman in Black, with a focus on superstition and Kipps’ position as a rational protagonist.
These lessons start with a focus on superstitions and ask pupils to consider whether they are superstitious and why (always makes for an interesting discussion!). After reading a section of the chapter, pupils are asked to look at the character Mr Jerome, and then closely consider a passage relating to Kipps and his position as a rational protagonist. The lessons end with a consideration of what various characters think of each other.
I’ve done this in three lessons with a LA year 9 class; I imagine you could make it work in two lessons if you wanted to pick up the pace.
A handout to help pupils structure newspaper articles. The sheet is structured as a triangle, to steer pupils through the gradual build-up of information that a newspaper article requires.
I’ve used this with KS3 and KS4 pupils and it works well; the triangle structure is memorable.
An introductory lesson on John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, looking at context and asking pupils to consider the lives of migrant workers.
The lesson introduces the key terms: American Dream; migrant workers; Great Depression; Dust Bowl; mass migration.
Each term is explained as part of the story that led to the historical setting of the novel, with imagery for pupils to reflect on and consider what life must have been like for the people involved: you can make this as interactive as you like, and there’s mileage in printing the photos and asking pupils to look at them to consider what they can learn about the Great Depression from them.
Pupils are asked to consider what the dreams and hopes of a migrant worker would be, and there is a structured activity asking pupils to write a diary entry from their perspective, with scaffolded suggestions of paragraph topics.
The lesson ends with a quick look at Robbie Burns’ ‘To a Mouse’, to understand the source of the novel’s title.
I’ve designed this lesson for a lower-ability GCSE class, but it could definitely work at KS3 too, or be tweaked up to suit higher-attaining pupils.
A lesson looking at Act 2 Scenes 1 and 2 of Macbeth, with a focus on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s differing attitudes towards Duncan’s murder.
This lesson takes a look at Macbeth’s hallucination, and later asks pupils to search for quotations summing up Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s varying responses to the murder of King Duncan, which are recorded on hands! I’ve always found pupils are really engaged in this lesson as it’s a bit different to the usual quotation-hunting.
A full scheme of work for KS3 on Reginal Rose’s play Twelve Angry Men. This scheme focuses on the characters, and builds up analytical writing skills.
This fourteen-lesson SOW gradually builds up writing skills, helping pupils to structure analytical paragraphs and pick out high-value quotations about the characters. One activity to help this is ‘paragraph speed-dating’, in which pupils are given either a point or a quotation, and they need to find their partner: I’ve found this really helps with classes who pluck quotations from the text at random without considering whether they actually evidence the point they’ve made.
I’d suggest creating a ‘guilty/not guilty’ scale somewhere in the classroom, and then you can write each juror number on a post-it note and move them around as they change their minds about the boy on trial.
This scheme of work builds up to writing two complete essays: one comparing jurors 3 and 8, and another considering whether juror 8 can be considered a hero.
A series of three lessons on the final chapter of Of Mice and Men, with the chapter being read in the first, and the following lessons looking at themes.
As the final chapter of the novel is the shortest, and the fastest-paced, I feel it makes sense to read it in its entirety in one lesson, which isn’t my usual style with this novel. The first of these lessons includes reading time, and then a chance to reflect on the use of foreshadowing within the novel.
The second lesson looks more closely at the imagery of light and dark in the novel, and asks pupils to look at a quotation about light and dark and consider what it means. You could make this easier or harder by choosing whether or not to tell them where in the novel this quotation can be found. To do this on paper, I’d just print the slides and ask pupils to write directly onto them; it can also work digitally by sharing the powerpoint with pupils.
The final lessons focuses on dreams and the characters’ different dreams, thinking specifically about why none of them work out. There are two different versions of the worksheet, one where the quotations have already been provided for a bit of support, and another where pupils are expected to find them themselves.
Two lecture-style lessons for A Level on the context of Brave New World, with the first looking at life at the time, and the second moving onto life since.
Across these two lessons, designed for when pupils have already read the book, a range of ideas about historical context are considered. The first looks at what was going on at the time when Huxley was writing, considering mass production, eugenics, and conditioning, whereas the second moves into considering how we have started to move towards that world in the 90 years since Huxley wrote the novel: changes in technology and what it means to be human.
Knowledge of context (both when the text was written and has been received) is imperative at A Level and I’ve found both of these lessons have really helped my pupils to get a good grounding in what they need to know.
Activities and notes on My Last Duchess which form the basis of two lessons. Includes full annotations of the poem and options of analytical and creative writing.
These lessons start with a look at the title of the poem, and then include opportunities to pick information out of the poem, analyse it all together, and then respond.
Pupils are asked to pick out what information they have learned about the Duke and the Duchess in the poems: there are two options for this sheet, as one has prompts so that pupils can fill in with just quotations, while another is more challenging without the prompts. You can increase challenge by choosing to do this activity prior to annotating the poem, too, which works well with top sets.
Pupils are then asked to imagine that they are the listener, and consider how they would respond to the Duke’s monologue: would you let this man marry again? Again, you could make this more challenging by removing the prompt questions at each stage.
There is an opportunity for analytical, essay-style writing at the end (could form the basis of a homework).
A lesson with poetry annotation on Exposure by Wilfred Owen. This lesson includes detailed analysis and annotation of the poem, and asks some thought-provoking questions.
I’ve used this at A Level when teaching the work of Wilfred Owen, but this could also be used at GCSE level.
A full series of lessons with powerpoints and resources for a GCSE or KS3 scheme of work on Of Mice and Men.
Lessons are adaptable for different abilities. Huge range of activities, including essay-writing, creative writing, quotation hunts, persuasive speeches, and much more.
All lessons are complete with all the material you need for success, including model answers for paragraphs, allowing pupils the opportunity to see how a strong answer is put together.
I’ve had proven success with this scheme of work with various classes, so I’m pleased to be able to share it.
Worksheet good for a homework, asking pupils to write a persuasive letter based on events in Chapter 4 of Animal Farm.
Task asks pupils to write a letter persuading other farms to take up Animalism.
Sheet provides structure and ideas to include, as well as reminders about layout, paragraphing etc.