John Steinbeck Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about legendary American author John Steinbeck with this lesson plan. Students will study a text lesson and view a video lesson, participate in two activities, and take two related follow-up quizzes.

Learning Objectives

After studying this helpful lesson plan, your students will be able to:

  • List some of the famous works by John Steinbeck
  • Describe the plots and major themes in some of his works
  • Summarize the personal life of the famous author

Length

1-1.5 Hours

Materials

Key Vocabulary

  • Cannery Row
  • East of Eden
  • Ed Ricketts
  • Great Depression
  • Monterey Bay area
  • Naturalism
  • Of Mice and Men
  • 'Okies'
  • Realism
  • The Grapes of Wrath

Curriculum Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail 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.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3

Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

Instructions

  • Inform your students they will be studying the famous author John Steinbeck.
  • Display an image of Steinbeck.
  • Ask your students if anyone is familiar with him or his notable works.
  • Review the vocabulary terms.
  • First, hand out copies of the text lesson John Steinbeck: Biography, Quotes & Facts.
  • Have your students read the introduction and the section 'John Steinbeck.'
    • What year was Steinbeck born?
    • What does the word empathy mean?
    • In what decade were his most famous novels penned?
    • What prize did he win?
  • Now, read the section 'Early Life.'
    • Did he graduate from college?
    • Where did he take up employment?
    • Who supported him while he was writing?
  • Next, read the section 'Steinbeck Hones his Craft.'
    • Can you name some of his major works?
    • Can you name some of the plots?
    • Can you name some of the major themes?
  • Next, read the section 'Fame, Friendship, and Personal Struggle.'
    • Who was Steinbeck's close friend?
    • What was his occupation?
    • Who were some other family members in Steinbeck's life?
  • Next, read the section 'Late Career.'
    • What year did he win the Nobel Prize?
    • What were some of his later works?
  • Finally, read the section 'Lesson Summary', review the entire text lesson, and answer any pertinent questions.
  • Have your students take the lesson quiz to demonstrate their grasp of the concepts.
  • Second, have your students watch the video lesson John Steinbeck: Grapes of Wrath and Other Works.
  • Start the video and pause for the first time at :53.
    • Where is the setting for many of Steinbeck's works?
    • What are some of the elements of this setting?
  • Now, restart the video and pause this time at 2:18.
    • From where are the Joad family?
    • What is their occupation?
    • In what tough era do they live?
    • Why do they move?
    • To where do they relocate?
    • What happens when they arrive there?
    • What does Tom Joad attempt to do for the workers?
  • Next, restart the video and pause at 4:16.
    • What style and themes represent his works?
    • How are realism and naturalism part of his novels?
  • Restart the video again and play until the end.
    • What are some of Steinbeck's other major works?
    • What are their plots and major themes?
    • What did Steinbeck do in 1960?
    • What were some events of that year?
    • When did he die?
  • Review the entire video and answer any relevant questions.
  • Have your students take the lesson quiz to also demonstrate understanding.

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