Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts
  • A Story of Epic Proportions: What makes a Poem an Epic?

    Priam, King of Troy

    Some of the most well known, and most important, works of literature in the world are examples of epic poetry. This lesson will introduce students to the epic poem form and to its roots in oral tradition.

  • George Orwell's Essay on his Life in Burma: "Shooting An Elephant"

    George Orwell confronted an Asian elephant like this one in the story recounted  for this lesson plan.

    Eric A. Blair, better known by his pen name, George Orwell, is today best known for his last two novels, the anti-totalitarian works Animal Farm and 1984. He was also an accomplished and experienced essayist, writing on topics as diverse as anti-Semitism in England, Rudyard Kipling, Salvador Dali, and nationalism. Among his most powerful essays is the 1931 autobiographical essay "Shooting an Elephant," which Orwell based on his experience as a police officer in colonial Burma.

  • Lesson 3: Navigating Modernism with J. Alfred Prufrock

    Planes, (subway) trains, automobiles and World War I

    In this lesson, students will explore the role of the individual in the modern world by closely reading and analyzing T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

  • "Animal Farm": Allegory and the Art of Persuasion

    George Orwell, author of 1984.

    Allegories are similar to metaphors: in both the author uses one subject to represent another, seemingly unrelated, subject. However, unlike metaphors, which are generally short and contained within a few lines, an allegory extends its representation over the course of an entire story, novel, or poem. This lesson plan will introduce students to the concept of allegory by using George Orwell’s widely read novella, Animal Farm, which is available online through the EDSITEment-reviewed web resource Internet Public Library.

  • Robert Frost's "Mending Wall": A Marriage of Poetic Form and Content

    Robert Frost

    Studying Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," students explore the intricate relationship between a poem's form and its content.

  • Introducing Jane Eyre: An Unlikely Victorian Heroine

    Charlotte Brontë

    Through their interpretation of primary documents that reflect Victorian ideals, students can learn the cultural expectations for and limitations placed on Victorian women and then contemplate the writer Charlotte Brontë's position in that context. Then, through an examination of the opening chapters of Jane Eyre, students will evaluate Jane's status as an unconventional Victorian heroine.

  • Carl Sandburg's "Chicago": Bringing a Great City Alive

    Carl Sandburg.

    In this lesson students examine primary documents including photographs, film, maps, and essays to learn about Chicago at the turn of the 20th century and make predictions about Carl Sandburg's famous poem. After examining the poem's use of personification and apostrophe, students write their own pieces about beloved places with Sandburg's poem as a model.

  • Chaucer's Wife of Bath

    Wife of Bath

    Look into the sources of the Wife’s sermon on women’s rights to learn how real women lived during the Middle Ages.

  • Thornton Wilder's "Our Town": The Reader as Writer

    Portrait of Thornton Wilder, as Mr. Antrobus in "The Skin of Your Teeth," by  Carl Van Vechten (August 18, 1948).

    To appreciate some of the extra-literary elements of a play, students pause at various intervals in their study of Thornton Wilder's Our Town to develop their own settings, characters, and conflicts.

  • Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice": The Novel as Historical Source

    A contemporary portrait of Jane Austen based on an original drawing by Jane's  sister Cassandra.

    Jane Austen's classic novel offers insights into life in early nineteenth-century England. This lesson, focusing on class and the status of women, teaches students how to use a work of fiction as a primary source in the study of history.