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Free 12 Angry Men Unit

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

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When I taught 10th grade honors, I started the year by teaching 12 Angry Men. It’s accessible to kids who are trying to jump from a grade level class to an advanced class, but it’s got enough meat and substance to start introducing kids to the AP level thinking they will need to do over the course of the year.

Like every well-written drama, it’s hard to pick exactly what to focus on when trying to teach this book. 12 Angry Men lends itself to conversations about the legal system and argumentation, but I like to focus on bias. Below is my free 12 Angry Men unit, with a general overview of how I taught the unit, followed by specific daily plans.

I start my free 12 Angry Men unit by introducing students to different types of bias. A while back, I found this great article on Mental Floss and modified that for the classroom. Once we’ve laid the “bias groundwork” through memorization, journaling, and conversation, we get into the play. Since I am usually reading this with kids the first week of school and they are still figuring each other out, I let them sit in big circles and read the play aloud instead of having them get up in front of the room. After each day of reading, I have the kids stop and talk about the different types of bias in the section and track their ideas on a bias chart.

Why we need to teach 12 Angry Men becomes clear just a few minutes into discussing the anticipation guide, but if you really want to blow your kids away, ask them the race of the defendant. I do this by giving everyone a sheet of scrap paper at the beginning of class and pretending we are having a one question reading quiz, and I ask them the race of the defendant. The book never states the race of the defendant, even though kids swear up and down that the author does. But if you ask the kids to point out the page where the defendant’s race is mentioned, they can’t find it and it’s not there. The author discusses the defendant’s neighborhood and economic status and students make assumptions. This moment is a starting point for a discussion about race in America. I recently read White Fragility by Robin D’Angelo, which helped me to understand how and why people assume the race of someone based on the description of their wealth or where they live, but overall the moment is an eye-opener. I do not collect the “quiz” from the students. We then talk a little bit about our personal biases and how they affect what we think we know.

At the end of the play, we have a conversation about bias and do a little extension activity, but since it is the beginning of the year, I also give the students a menu of essays to choose from and have them respond to one. I use the essay as a diagnostic to see where everyone is at the beginning of the year, and it gives students a chance to explore a topic or idea we did not touch upon in class.

There are a million different great ways to teach this book, and I offer you one path below. Enjoy!

Unit Overview for 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose

Essential question: How does where you are and who you are affect how you see the world?

Core Texts:

  • 12 Angry Men (make sure to have all of the same copies)


  • Students will learn about different types of biases.

  • Students will identify types of biases present in 12 Angry Men.

  • Students will identify techniques the author used to convey messages (themes) about bias and attempt 1 analysis paragraph.

  • Students will find a product which helps them answer this question: To what extent (great extent, somewhat, no extent) are the societal issues presented in 12 Angry Men still present today?

Unit Time: 10 class periods (84 minute periods)


  • class set of 12 Angry Men

  • Youtube

Assessments (below):

  • Analysis Paragraph

  • Choice Essay

  • Bias matching quiz

  • Vocabulary quiz

Daily Lessons

*Daily lessons are around 60 minutes long since I usually start the lesson with some sort of grammar or warm-up/lesson not included here. Also, this is one of my early units, so I am still spending part of the class going over expectations, routines, etc.

Day 1


  • Introduce students to types of bias.

  • Students will be able to identify at least three different types of bias in 12 Angry Men.

Introduce 12 Angry Men (5 minutes)

  • Introduce book and title and essential question: “Today we will start our study of bias and the role it plays in our lives by reading the text 12 Angry Men. This is a very short play, featuring a jury of men who need to determine the guilt or innocence of someone on trial. This is a play of their deliberations. I wanted to start off with a short, powerful text so that we can start practicing our analysis skills.”

  • Ask students: "What do you know about jury duty?" (BRIEF BRIEF BRIEF)

  • More information:

(This anticipation guide is from this website. )

  • Fill it in (5 minutes? 10 minutes?)

  • Lay discussion ground rules

  • You may volunteer to explain your answer.

  • I will choose students who do not raise their hands because everyone is part of this class and everyone has a voice.

  • DO NOT turn around and start yelling your ideas at your neighbor. I would love to hear everyone!!

  • If someone says something that offends you, put it in the parking lot so that we can address it. (Parking lot is on the whiteboard)

  • Start activity (10-15 minutes)

Day 2

-Start learning about types of bias

-Writing time: Identify which biases you have experienced in your own life, or that were present in the discussion we just had. (10 minutes) (Bias Journal)

  • Turn and share out with a partner. (3 minutes)

  • Partner repeat to reader which biases they heard them discuss and then either agree and add your examples or disagree and provide your examples.

-12 Angry Men reading time (30 minutes)

  • Make juror name tags

  • Get into groups of 9-12 & assign parts.

  • The only expectation is that you read the text. Any acting out of the stage directions is a fun bonus!

  • Work together (yes, all 12 of you) to fill in the Bias Tracking Chart

Homework: Make flashcards or a Quizlet for the types of biases. You do not need to submit them anywhere; they are just to help you study for a matching quiz that I will give you next week.

Day 3


  • Create a clue word or visual that will help you remember the word (up to you to create)

  • Tour of

  • Example sentences on are in the bottom right corner.

-Get into reading groups

  • In groups of 3-4 within your giant, 12-person reading groups, see if there are any biases you have identified so far and fill in the Bias Tracking Chart. (You got this chart yesterday.)

  • Next, write down a few notes about any of the jurors that have popped out at you so far. Put your notes in this 12 Angry Men Study Guide

-Continue to read 12 Angry Men (30 minutes)

  • While reading, write down page numbers or dog ear pages with biases

  • After 30 minutes, in groups of 3-4 within your reading groups, jot down any biases you have identified so far.

  • Next, write down a few notes about any of the jurors that have popped out at you so far in your 12 Angry Men Character chart.

-If time: Read for a few more minutes

Homework: Study the flashcards you made. You will have a matching quiz on the types of biases and their definitions next week.

Day 4

-Finish vocabulary packet: (10-15 minutes)

  • Clue word or visual that will help you remember the word (up to you to create)

  • Tour of

  • Example sentences on are in the bottom right corner.

-Study Guide: Turn to the people sitting next to you (do not get into your big reading groups yet) add at least 10 notes to your study guide. Write down what you have learned about some of the newer jurors that started talking and add details to the ones you wrote about last class.

-Reading time (30 minutes)

  • Finish Act I and then complete the Act 1 bias chart.

  • Continue reading Act II and get as far as you can before the bell.

Day 5

-Vocabulary (30 minutes)

-Complete Character Mnemonic Chart (20 minutes) & submit


Day 6

-Get into reading groups

  • Finish 12 Angry Men

  • Complete study guide & bias chart.

  • Before submitting your bias chart, make sure your explanations clearly show that you understand the bias. Submit when you finish.

  • While waiting for others, work on homework.

-If time: Start 12 Angry Men essay


Day 7

-Go over practice vocabulary quiz

-Finish bias chart & submit

-Introduce 12 Angry Men analysis paper


  • Study for vocabulary quiz

  • Complete what you can of this outline for your 12 Angry Men essay

Day 8

-Study Time (30 minutes)

  • Verbal directions to kids: "After the vocabulary quiz, get a copy of 12 Angry Men and fill in your study guide or create your own practice questions.Next class, you will have a ~40 question multiple choice reading quiz. 40 questions basically means 1 question per 2 pages of the story, so you do need to know a fair amount of details. This is why I want you to fill in the study guide the best you can. Once everyone is done with the vocab quiz, you can work in groups to fill in the study guide or quiz each other. I will return your mnemonic sheet so that you can use it to study. "

--Feedback: specific and developed examples

  • Ex= example

  • Dev=develop

  • Proof=prove this

  • In a nutshell: Make sure to show me how you know what you know. :) It’s hard but it leads to great thinking.

Work on Essay (25-30 minutes)

  • Verbal directions to kids: "Take out your computer and work on outlining your 12 Angry Men essay; if you are done working on your outline, start typing up your essay.I will start meeting with kids in groups of 5."

-Go over homework

-Return bias chart so that students can use it for homework


Day 9

  • Verbal directions to kids: “There are 49 questions on the test, and there a few that are pretty hard, so I am going to make the test out of “44,” which means you can get 5 questions wrong and still get a 100. “

-Note for students after test: When you finish the test, grab a copy of 12 Angry Men and work on finding quotations to fill in your outlines.


Day 10

*This is the last formal day of lessons. After this, kids finish up their essay and submit*

-Bias Extension Share Out (10-20 minutes):

  • Verbal directions to kids: "I will put you into groups of 6-7. Share out your bias extensions. Have a discussion if the product sparks discussion."

-Whole class discussion:

  • Prompt: Based on the articles and artifacts you found for the “extension,” to what extent (great extent, somewhat, no extent) are the societal issues presented in 12 Angry Men still present today?

-Give students feedback from outlines

-Work on 12 Angry Men essay.

  • Verbal directions to kids: "Get all of the quotations you need so that you can write on your own. This is the last day you will get to work on this in class."

*Some years I fit in the 12 Angry Men Analysis Lesson, but some years I don’t. I just depends on the kids and the timing and what they are ready for.*

I hope this information helps you get started on your 12 Angry Men unit.

Please feel free to post any helpful resources that you have for others in the comments below.

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