Mark Twain Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Are your students familiar with the work of Mark Twain? A video lesson provides key information about Mark Twain and his work, while an activity gives them a chance to experience his work for themselves. Extensions give options for further study and related lessons help take the topic to a deeper level.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize the life and significant works of Mark Twain
  • analyze the themes present in a short story by Mark Twain
  • discuss the impact of the author's life on his work


1-2 hours

Curriculum Standards


Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


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.


Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.


  • Copies of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Photocopies of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County


  • Begin by asking the class what they know about Mark Twain. List their statements on the board as they offer them.
  • Now play the video lesson Mark Twain: Biography, Works, and Style as a Regionalist Writer, pausing it at 0:53.
  • Review the information listed on the board in light of the information provided in the video lesson and fill in any missing points now with a brief class discussion.
  • Now pass around the copies of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Have students briefly look through the books. What can the students surmise about these books through their brief look at them? Discuss this as a class.
  • Play the video lesson again and pause this time at 2:49.
  • Ask the students to revisit the two books as they consider the factors presented in the video lesson that might have influenced Mark Twain's writing. Discuss their ideas briefly as a class.
  • Play the video lesson again, pausing at 4:40.
  • Now pass out the photocopies of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, one per student.
  • Give the students some time to read the short story.
  • Now play the rest of the video lesson for the class. Answer any questions that students may have.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account