Updated: Jul 27
When I taught freshmen, I used to love it because I got to teach Lord of the Flies, which was required ninth grade reading in our district for a long time. I know not everyone loves Lord of the Flies, but I love teaching any book that makes kids go “What the f***?” This book was always a winner based on that criteria.
Teaching Lord of the Flies always tripped me up because I could never exactly figure out WHICH big idea to focus on (there are so many), but I finally settled on The Big One: Are humans good or bad by nature? A secondary question was: What are the ingredients of a survivor?
The skills/terms I covered in this unit were:
I have not taught Lord of the Flies in 8 years, and it is no longer part of the 9th grade curriculum, but below are the materials I used for the unit and some notes to help you out. This unit was for “Intensified 9” students and it was the first real unit I would do at the start of the school year. I never really perfected it, but hopefully some of the stuff below can serve as a jumping off point for you. As I said earlier, I used to really enjoy this unit and I hope you do, too. Each lesson is around 40 minutes.
On the first day of the unit, I would ask kids to list their name and middle school on a sheet of scrap paper, and I would use that information to mix the kids up and put them into groups.
Next, I would just briefly introduce the novel and the opening activity by saying something along the lines of: “We are going to read a novel that is about survival. A group of school boys about your age crash land on an island. No adults survive the crash. They will need to work together to survive, or they will not live. Likewise, for this unit, you will be working with 3 or 4 others for the entirety of the unit. All group work will be done with the same group members. Together you will succeed or fail.The novel that we will start reading officially next class is Lord of the Flies by William Golding.”
The first thing I had kids do was get into their assigned groups and come up with a team name and decorate a team headband. I used these headbands from Amazon because I could buy them in bulk and there was lots of space on them for kids to write.
This activity would take about 12-15 minutes. The kids always enjoyed this and it was a good way to create some class cohesion at the beginning of the year. It was also a fun way to introduce some of the themes I wanted to tackle throughout the unit.
Next, we would participate in a survival simulation that I found online. The survival simulation asked students to rank survival items and they had to come to a consensus on each answer.
To facilitate this activity, I gave kids a handout with an explanation of the task and a place to put their answers. This activity took about 15 minutes.
After the 15 minutes, I collected everyone’s answer sheets and I had the kids complete a journal in response to follow questions:
Reflect on your separation/grouping with classmates. How have I caused separation in the classroom?
Describe your decision making process during the simulation. How well did your group work together? Did a leader emerge? Was there conflict?
I gave them 10 minutes to complete the journal. While they were journaling, I graded to survival sheets to see which group got the most answers correct.
To wrap up class I collected headbands and announced the group that won the survival simulation. Then I would make a really big deal out of awarding them 1 point (which I tracked on a whiteboard in the classroom.)
Objective: Garner interest in unit/introduce survival theme Opening/Warm Up:
Arrange Groups (12-15 minutes)
Survival Simulation (15 minutes)
Journal (5-10 minutes)
I started the second day of the unit with a close reading of the title. I got this activity from Jim Burke’s The English Teacher’s Companion. My mentor teacher gave me his book when I was a student teacher, and then a few years later I bought and read his updated version on my own. I always find his books to be helpful, practical, and understanding of the stressors of the job.
Anyway, here is the activity: I wrote the title in giant letters on one of my boards and then asked my kids to take out a sheet of looseleaf. On the looseleaf, I asked them to write down all of the words that came to mind when they read or heard the word “lord.” They were also allowed to look up the formal definition, and lastly, I asked them to identify connotations of the word. I repeated all of these questions/steps for the word “Flies” and then I asked kids to share out their ideas for each word while I took notes on the board.
Once everyone who wanted to share out did, I asked the kids to take out their journals and write about what they thought the title meant and to make some predictions about the novel based on the title. Once they were done writing, I asked them to share some of their ideas with the person sitting next to them. You could also use this handout to guide this activity.
Next, I lectured on close reading skills by going through this S.C.A.S.I. powerpoint.
S.C.A.S.I. is an acronym I came across sometime ago when I transferred to the high school. I can't remember where I got it from, but the file is so old I had trouble figuring out how to open it. Anyway, It’s just an acronym to remind kids of what to look for when a teacher asks them to “do a close reading of a passage.” Here is the PowerPoint:
After introducing the S.C.A.S.I., I gave each student a copy of the first page of Lord of the Flies and we annotated the first paragraph together. It is worth spending the time together to work on this when you first introduce S.C.A.S.I., otherwise you will get a lot of individual questions from kids about what exactly they are supposed to be highlighting. Here is a handout of the first page typed up with questions, directions, and the passage.
On day three, I continued the first page close reading and had kids work in small groups to answer questions about the passage. This activity takes a long time depending on how big your class is and how much kids want to say.
After finishing up the close reading, I assigned the homework, which was to read pages 7-20 in Lord of the Flies. I used to have the kids annotate every page but I don’t do that anymore because I am not a psycho. Kids are free to read how they want, but they should be prepared for a detailed reading quiz most class periods. I have a multiple choice test (paid product) that I break up and use throughout the unit and sometimes I delete the answers so that it’s short answer.
For today’s lesson, I started by having the kids reread their homework pages and count how many times the words “fair boy” and “fat boy” were used. I then asked them to complete a journal where they answered the questions: What are the connotations and denotations of the words “fat” and “fair”? Why do you think the author did this? What is he trying to portray about these characters? I also asked students to write down their first impressions of at least 3 of the other characters, and then I gave them time to read in class.
Their homework was to finish reading and annotating chapter 1 and chapter 2.
Day 4 Journal
Also, write down your first impressions of at least 3 of the other characters. Reading Time