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Example Lesson Plans in English Literature

Example lesson plans for grades 9 - 12

Are you looking for ways to incorporate Decision Skills concepts and tools into your classroom? Here you'll find examples created by teachers educated in DEF's model of decision analysis. We hope that you can leverage them in your English Literature classes.  

English Literature Lesson Plans  Grades 5 - 8    Grades 9 - 12 

Grades 9 - 12

Decision Perspective:

This lesson focuses primarily on the theme of the individual vs. the majority: how do we navigate the tricky waters of taking charge of our lives while gaining the approval of a group? Teenagers often face the challenge of declaring a decision that could cause their peers to view them as “mad.”

Decision Topics:

  • declaring a decision

  • multiple perspectives in framing

  • values and commitment to follow through

Essential Questions:

  • What is the point of declaring a decision?

  • Is the majority view the best one to follow?

  • How are decisions related to popularity?

  • What does it mean to have a “discerning eye”?

  • Does it depend on pure talent or learned skill?

Decision Perspective:

The topics and conflicts Wilson chooses to explore in Fences are ones that appeal to the teenage mind: love and desire; injustice; baseball and football; domineering parent; friendship—to name a few.

Decision Topics:

  • information, frames, values, and alternatives

  • balancing head and heart

  • decisions shape character

  • decisions influence the future

Essential Questions:

  • What is a good decision?

  • How does the past affect present decisions?

  • How do the decisions and actions of characters reveal their personalities?

  • How do decisions, actions, and consequences vary depending on the different perspectives of the people involved?

Decision Perspective:

Set in the Hispanic-American ghetto of Chicago, The House on Mango Street is an unusual coming of age story narrated by a young Mexican American girl, Esperanza Cordero. Full of decision situations, the novel provides students with intriguing examples to explore.

Decision Topics:

  • six elements of decision quality

  • decision fitness

  • declaring decisions leads to more control

Essential Questions:

  • Can we control the future?

  • Do the decisions we make really matter?

  • How does thought affect action?

  • What makes writing clear?

Decision Perspective:

Freedom, survival, fear, conflict, order, and chaos are topics that William Golding explores in Lord of the Flies. Through the way four main characters face life on a deserted island, Golding demonstrates the importance of head (thinking, reason) and heart (feeling, emotion, passion) in making good decisions.

Decision Topics:

  • using head and heart in decision making

  • a variety of perspectives is best in group decision making

Essential Questions:

  • To think or to feel: which is more important?

  • How do actions define character?

Decision Perspective:

The root cause of Macbeth’s downfall is his deciding to kill the King, and we watch him make this decision in Act 1. Even though Macbeth’s problem is a dramatically extreme situation, it provides a rich context for exploring the importance of values, alternatives, and information in thinking through important decisions.

Essential Questions:

  • How do I choose an alternative when I am uncertain?

  • How much information do I need to make a good decision, and where should I look for that information?

  • Does Macbeth rely on his “head” or his “heart” or both?

  • How do I usefully combine information from my “head” and “heart”?

  • Is there a role for other people to play in my personal decision making?

Decision Perspective:

Intended to supplement an existing plan of study for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, this unit focuses students attention on Huck’s challenging decision of whether or not to betray his friend, Jim. As they explore Huck’s thinking and feelings, students will have a chance to apply what they learn to a difficult personal decision.

Decision Topics:

  • questions for assessing decision quality

  • decisions end with action

  • diversity of opinion and experience improve decisions

  • role of values and society in decision making

  • facing hard choices with both head and heart

Essential Questions:

  • What makes some decision so much harder to make than others?

  • How do choices affect community?

Decision Perspective:

Orwell’s autobiographical account of his encounter with an elephant gone wild and the powerful crowd that surrounded him provides an engaging model of personal writing as well as an in depth look at the author’s decision process.

Decision Topics:

  • using head and heart in decision making

  • building, evaluating, and improving decisions

  • avoiding common decision traps

Essential Questions:

  • What is the balance between thinking and feeling in decision making?

  • How do environment, biases, and culture sometimes limit our ability to make good decisions?

  • What makes personal writing powerful?

Decision Perspective:

“My Last Duchess” is a fifty-six line dramatic monologue spoken by a narrator who is both intriguing and horrifying. This engaging murder mystery and psychological sketch is an ideal text for examining selected best practices for reading poetry and making decisions.

Decision Topics:

  • frames, values, alternatives, information

  • values can alter frames

  • frames help develop values

Essential Questions:

  • Can decisions control life?

  • Can art control life?

  • How is what I want related to what I know and what I see?

  • How is decision making related to matters of the heart such as love, dating, and marriage?

Decision Perspective:

Because of the significant choices women make in the story and the men’s limited perspective, decision analysis provides a helpful way to clarify important issues in this murder mystery.

Decision Topics:

  • Framing a decision well leads to finding the best alternatives and information for the situation

  • Feelings can be as important as logic in good decision making

  • Ignorance of our biases can lead to limiting the frame of a situation

  • Decision fitness leads to making good choices

  • A decision results in action

Essential Questions:

  • Do women and men view the world differently and how does gender affect decision making?

  • How do I balance “head” and “heart” in decision making?

  • Why are feelings just as important as rational thought in making important decisions?

  • Are biases innate or learned?

Decision Perspective:

Intended to supplement an existing plan of study for Hamlet, this unit focuses attention on Hamlet’s five soliloquies. Lessons challenge students to explore values, information, reasoning, and follow through, as they analyze Hamlet’s thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Decision Topics:

  • head and heart influence commitment to action

  • all decisions involve risk

  • values and information help define action

  • good decision balance reason and passion

  • decision trees help clarify complicated text and decisions

Essential Questions:

  • How do we know when a person is telling the truth?

  • How is what I want related to what I do?

  • What role do reason and passion play in decision making?

  • Do all good decisions feel right?

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