Fever, 1793 Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kristen Goode

Kristen has been an educator for 25+ years - as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university instructor. She holds a doctorate in Education Leadership.

Yellow fever can be a deadly disease. In this lesson, students learn about Laurie Halse Anderson's book ''Fever, 1793'' and develop a project highlighting the yellow fever epidemic that terrorized Philadelphia.

Learning Objectives

By the conclusion of this lesson, students will:

  • Identify themes of the book Fever, 1793'' by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Create a newspaper covering the story of the yellow fever outbreak of 1793


60-75 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.


Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.


Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.


Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.



This lesson can be completed either before, during, or after the reading of the book, ''Fever, 1793'' by Laurie Halse Anderson.

  • Begin by introducing the lesson:
    • Ask students to share what they know about the storyline and characters of the book.
    • Ask students to share what they know about yellow fever.
    • Discuss what an epidemic is and talk about what it might be like to experience one.
  • Give each student a printed copy of the lesson, Fever, 1793: Summary & Characters.
  • Read through the lesson together. Stop occasionally to discuss:
    • Who is Matilda? Describe her personality.
    • Who is Eliza? Describe her.
    • Why do you think the author decided to develop a friendship between a white and a black character?
    • Where did the theories about the fever come from? Why do you think people were reluctant to say it was yellow fever?
    • Describe Bush Hill.
    • What was the Free African Society? Why was it an important part of the story?
    • What happens that finally kills off the fever? Explain why this would have worked.
    • How would you have felt if you had been Maddie in the story? What emotions would you have experienced? Why?
    • What do you think Anderson's purpose was for writing this book? What themes or author's message did you pick up on?
  • Check for understanding by having students complete the quiz.

Group Activity

To reinforce learning, guide students through the following activity:

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