Irish Famine Lesson Plan

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson plan uses a text lesson, a vocabulary activity, a research activity and example discussion topics and questions to help students better understand the Irish Famine.

Learning Objectives

Students need to be able to perform the following once they've worked through this lesson plan's suggestions:

  • Identify when the Irish Famine took place
  • Name the crop involved
  • Discuss the numerous causes that led to the Irish Famine
  • Describe the impact the famine had on Irish society


30-60 minutes without the activities


Curriculum Standards


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.



  • Hand out a copy of the text lesson Irish Famine: Contributing Factors & Effects to each student.
  • In addition to reading this lesson prior to coming to class, students should also:
    • Highlight any terms or topics they do not fully understand
    • Define any bold words in their own terms on a separate piece of paper
    • Write a one paragraph summary of what they've learned for credit

Warm Up & Vocabulary Activity

  • Collect the homework and address any highlighted material as a warm-up
  • For a vocabulary activity, collect the pieces of paper with each student's bold word definitions. Pass these papers back to the students but ensure that each student has someone else's paper. Every student should read the definitions and correct them as necessary (as if they were a teacher). Students can work in groups if they wish to do so.
  • Put each bold word and the correct definition up on the class board once the vocabulary activity has been completed.

Reading & Discussion Questions

  • Have students take out their copy of the text lesson Irish Famine: Contributing Factors & Effects and read it together as a class.
  • Once you've finished reading, use the following discussion topics and questions to give students more important information and to test their understanding:
    • When did the Irish Famine take place?
    • Discuss why the potato was so ubiquitous in Ireland.
    • Describe the actual cause and agent of blight.
    • How many people died as a result of the famine?
    • Discuss the impact the famine had on Irish society.


  • After the discussion, proceed to the lesson quiz.
  • Discuss the questions and answers after everyone has finished for added retention.


Every student should write and present a short speech to the class. It should come from the words of a man, woman, or child who survived the Irish famine and should answer questions such as:

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