This thematic unit on the Salem Witch Trials will get your students engaged in the bigger themes of colonial and Puritan America by reading engaging primary sources, poetry, and non-fiction.
From their world view to their religious beliefs to their daily life, the people of the early colonial period lived lives very different from those of contemporary Americans. The texts included in this unit will give students a glimpse into those lives. Three of the pieces included in this resource were written during the time period, and two are contemporary writing on the events of the witch trials in Salem. The texts included in this bundle can be used to introduce themes of The Crucible or as a way of wrapping up a unit on the play. The eight day unit would also make a great stand alone unit to begin a chronological study of American literature.
These are not easy texts for students to read—in fact, they will likely prove challenging to honors classes—but by following the questions and processes outlined in the resources, you will find success with these rigorous lesson plans.
•How was the early American world view distinct from that of today’s America?
•How did early Americans view women’s roles?
•How did early Americans view their role in the battle between good and evil?
•What characteristics of Puritan society and beliefs lead to the Salem witch trials of the 17th century?
The following resources are included here, at a discount when you buy them together:
Lesson plans on excerpts from The Wonders of the Invisible World by Cotton Mather
This resource includes excerpted passages, close reading questions, an extensive answer key. writing prompts, and suggestions for wrapping up the lesson. The passages excerpted in this lesson plan all come from Cotton Mather’s book published in 1693 and written about the events of the Salem Witch Trials. Mather’s descriptions of “the stupendous and prodigious things that are happening among us” will be unlike anything your students have read before.
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Lesson plans on “Half-Hanged Mary” by Margaret Atwood
A modern feminist retelling of the witch hunts of the Puritan times, this poem by Margaret Atwood is a great choice for teaching poetic elements as well as for exploring some of the major themes of American Literature. This resource includes suggestions for how to approach this challenging poem; 14 writing prompts to get students thinking about the ideas of the poem; three suggestions for assessment or extension; 41 questions for close reading and analysis; an extensive answer key and teacher explanations. The text of the poem is not included for copyright reasons. You can view the product preview by clicking here
Lesson plans on two poems by Anne Bradstreet
As one of the first poets of the nation, Bradstreet’s ideas on love, life, materialism, and the afterlife reflect many popular views of her era. This resource includes a pre- and post-reading writing prompt to get students thinking about themes; copies of both poems with engaging graphics; questions on both poems that encourage close reading and literary analysis; answer keys for all questions; prompts for longer writing assignments and assessment. You can view the product preview by clicking here
Also included in this resource and not in the bundled products:
•a suggested schedule
•a link to a fascinating contemporary essay on the Salem Witch Trials
•a guide to conducting a graded discussion in class
•a rubric for grading the discussion
•a writing prompt for a comparative essay
•a graphic organizer for that essay
In all, there is enough here for eight days of reading, analysis, discussion, and writing on the Salem Witch Trials and early America. There are no lectures or power points here—students will do the work themselves, with guidance from their teacher.
Rather than telling them what the texts mean, you will be empowering them with the confidence and skills to tackle a challenging pieces on their own.