Flowers for Algernon Unit Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Flowers for Algernon' is a short story by Daniel Keyes about an intellectually disabled man who undergoes medical treatment to become smarter. This unit plan outlines instruction for this story.

Flowers for Algernon

If you could alter something about yourself, what would you change? In Daniel Keyes' 'Flowers for Algernon,' Charlie is encouraged to be the first human to improve his intelligence surgically. His journey from having a cognitive disability to becoming a genius is not without challenges. Charlie's relationships alter in unexpected ways. Further, the effects do not last. As Charlie regresses, he is more aware of what he is missing than if he had never had this experience. Students will encounter themes related to knowledge, joy, change, and friendship as they read this story. Students will also have an opportunity to examine the author's use of literary devices. This asset provides a guide for teachers as they plan a unit of study of 'Flowers for Algernon' for their high school students.


The Flowers for Algernon Lesson Plan introduces the story with a collaborative discussion about whether it is better to be smart or happy. This question provides students with an opportunity to connect with the themes of the story and set the stage for comprehension. This lesson also provides hands-on activities for students to do as they read that will help them better understand the characters.

Pre-teaching activities may also include discussions about the rich vocabulary students will encounter as they read the text and explanations of literary devices, such as foreshadowing and symbolism, that students can identify in the story.

Discussion and Writing

As students read the story, classroom and small group discussions will enhance students' grasp of key elements. Flowers for Algernon Discussion Questions guide conversations about the characters, themes, and literary choices of the author of 'Flowers for Algernon.' These questions are scaffolded to lead students from basic comprehension to justifications based on text evidence and philosophical reasoning.

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