Silent Spring Lesson Plan

Instructor: Jason Lineberger

Jason has 20 years of education experience including 14 years of teaching college literature.

In this lesson plan, students will learn about Rachel Carson's environmentalist classic, 'Silent Spring.' They will explore contemporary implications of her ideas by creating their own visual call to action on a current issue.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.
  • explain Carson's struggles to have her message heard.
  • create a contemporary call to action in the style of Rachel Carson.


60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


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.


Analyze in detail how an author's ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).


  • Copies of the first chapter of Silent Spring, ''A Fable for Tomorrow''
  • Computers or art supplies
  • Recordings of songbirds
  • Index cards
  • Discarded magazines
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Markers


  • Have the recording of bird songs playing as students enter the room.
  • When class starts, ask them to stop for a moment to listen.
  • Turn off the audio. Tell the class that you're going to learn about a famous book, Silent Spring, that predicted a possible spring without songbirds. Ask them to offer ideas about what might cause that lack of song. Lead the class in a discussion of the suggestions.
  • Distribute copies of ''A Fable for Tomorrow'' - the short first chapter of Silent Spring.
  • Call on students to read paragraphs until the end of the chapter. (There are only seven paragraphs.)
  • Distribute index cards. Ask students to write one thing that caught their attention in the opening chapter. Tell them that they will watch a video summary of the book. Have students write a prediction on the index card about what they'll learn in the video summary.
  • Play Silent Spring by Rachel Carson: Summary & Analysis. Pause as needed to ask clarifying questions.
  • Upon completion of the video, ask students to revise their predictions to accurately reflect what they learned in the video and first chapter.
  • On the reverse side of the index card, have students answer the questions in the lesson quiz then collect the cards as a formative assessment.

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