Published on August 27, 2007
Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: Shirley Jackson’s 'The Lottery' A Halloween Lesson Plan Slide2: Description and Goals of This Lesson This lesson on Shirley Jackson’s 'The Lottery' is designed for 11th Grade American Literature students May be used as the opening lesson of a longer unit on suspense/horror literature or as a stand-alone lesson. The lesson is designed to introduce students to the elements of suspense and horror in literature. Activities include: class participation activity class discussion reading aloud of the short story a brief film based on the story vocabulary enrichment persuasive writing homework assignment. Slide3: Objectives: Students will be able to identify the elements of suspense/horror in 'The Lottery.' Students will be able to define difficult words in the story. Students will be able to write a 1-page persuasive letter to Mr. Summers arguing why the lottery should be abolished. Corresponding Georgia QCCs for 9 – 12 American Literature and Composition: Slide4: Materials and Equipment Needed: #__ Photocopies of the 'The Lottery.' The photocopies should be numbered, one number for each student. Also divide the story up into equal sections and number them clearly on the copy to be photocopied from 1 to #__. The vocabulary words for vocabulary enrichment should also be underlined on all copies. Big, black, wooden box, to hold the class lottery #__ of envelopes, one for each student #__ of small pieces of paper, one for each student, all left blank except one, which should have a large black spot in the middle Copy of either The Lottery, 1996, directed by Daniel Sackheim (90 minutes) or The Lottery, 1969, directed by Larry Yust (20 minutes). (Teacher may decide whether to show the entire 20 minute film of the 1969 version, or whether to show 20 minutes of clips from the 1996 made-for-TV version.) VCR/DVD player and TV Vocabulary enrichment worksheets—should contain words from the story that students may not know, with space left for the students to later go back and write the definitions Persuasive writing homework assignment sheets Slide5: Lesson Length: 90 minutes—based on a single, block-scheduled class. Or, if your class is not on block scheduling, the lesson can easily be taught over two shorter class periods: Day One: Do the participation activity, reading of the story, and class discussion of the elements of suspense/horror. Day Two: Show the film and assign the persuasive writing assignment. Preassessment: (First five minutes of Class) Write the word 'lottery' up on the board. Make sure students know what a lottery is by asking them to share their definitions of a lottery, writing their ideas on the board around the word. LOTTERY Luck of the draw / Fate Winner gets a prize, usually $$$ Means GA students get scholarship $$$ Way of drafting people for different things—war, jury duty, etc. Playing the odds Slide6: Hook: (15 Minutes) The teacher should conduct a lottery with the students—heighten the SUSPENSE! Focus on student reactions: Are students surprised to find blank sheets of paper? Do students seem relieved, puzzled, confused, laugh nervously, etc., ? Does the student who gets the black spot share this with the other students or hide it? How do the other students react if they find out about the black spot? How does this make the students treat the student who 'won' the lottery? The teacher should initiate a brief class discussion after holding the lottery to discuss students’ reactions. Wrap the discussion up by introducing the idea of suspense, which is the uncertainty or anxiety we feel about not knowing what is going to happen next. Tell the students that they are now going to read a suspenseful short story by Shirley Jackson called 'The Lottery.' Slide7: Instructional Strategies and Procedures: (45 Minutes) Class Reads the Story Aloud (25 Minutes) Students take turn reading the story aloud based on the number system. Vocabulary enrichment included. Class Discussion (20 Minutes) Begin by asking for students’ immediate reactions to the story Explain how the story is one of suspense and horror. Slide8: Responses for suspenseful elements might include: We don’t know why the lottery is being held until the very end of the story. The townspeople seem nervous. Even though it is summertime and everything is in full bloom, the lottery is being run not only by Mr. Summers but also 'Mr. Graves,' who carries the big 'black wooden box.' There is something ominous and suspenseful about this. Mrs. Hutchinson’s denial that her husband has drawn the 'winning' lottery ticket—makes us realize the prize is not going to be good. Responses for horrific elements might include: The conclusion—townsperson is killed by other townspeople for no real reason. The town—including children—has participated in this archaic, barbaric, and pointless ritual of randomly killing a person for as long as anyone can remember. The act of stoning someone to death is especially horrifying—death doesn’t happen immediately, you have to keep throwing stones over and over again. Children participate in this ritual. The display of detachment all of the townspeople feel toward the horrific process. Slide9: Technology Component: (20 Minutes) After the discussion, tell the class they get to watch a film version of The Lottery—show either the entire 1969 version (20 minutes) or 20 minutes of clips from the made-for-TV 1996 version. Closure: (Remaining 5 Minutes) Assignment of Homework Reinforcing the skills of persuasive writing and writing a letter that the students have learned previously, the teacher should assign the students to write a 1-page, persuasive letter to Mr. Summers arguing that he should abolish the lottery system. Students should especially identify and explain the negative consequences of the suspenseful process and horrific results of the lottery on the town’s citizens. Slide10: Assessment: Assessment for first and third objectives: Students’ persuasive letters will be used to assess how well they are able to identify the elements of suspense/horror in 'The Lottery' and how well they are able to write a persuasive letter. Assessment for second objective: Vocabulary enrichment worksheet will be used to make sure students are familiarized with unfamiliar words. Post-lesson Reflection: This lesson is a good opening lesson for a longer unit on suspense/horror literature. Other authors whose stories and works of literature would be good considerations for this unit might be Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King (especially some of the short stories, like 'The Monkey' or 'Uncle Otto’s Truck'), Washington Irving (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, especially), 'The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Connell, Henry James (The Turn of the Screw), Bram Stoker (Dracula), etc. A weakness of this selection is lack of diversity, so an effort to find more suspense/horror literature written by multicultural authors needs to be made.