Of Mice and Men is one novel that I have had consistent success teaching to students of many different backgrounds. I’ve taught this book to ELLs, struggling readers, gifted readers, reluctant readers; it’s one of my favorites. Students are able to grasp the symbolism, over-arching allegory, and get really invested in the story.
The most challenging aspect is that when this novel is commonly taught, most students have not completed U.S. history and have a pretty vague understanding of The Great Depression. As a pre-reading activity, I put students into groups and have them read an informational article about the era and either present an oral summary, or make a poster for a gallery walk.
The summative assessment of the unit is an essay requiring students compare the social stratification so apparent in the novel to our current society. I ask students to provide specific examples from current events to support their claims. This year, we discussed BLM, the Women’s March, marketing of products to extend youth and beauty, assisted suicide and other issues that parallel to the novel.
Included in the packet:
Pre-reading texts to build background and historical context of the time period
Vocabulary charts for pre-teaching key words
Chapter reading questions that include comprehension questions, interpretation questions, and a written response requiring textual evidence
Character graphic organizer
Dialect decoder for reference
Summative assessment prompt and rubric
Cover page in case you want to bind it all into a packet
Here’s an example of Chapter 1 reading questions:
I’ve also had pretty good success with the movie adaptation, even though it’s from 1992. With some classes, I’ve had students enjoy the movie Cool Hand Luke; however, I’ve never had students write an essay analyzing and comparing the two stories. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, and when I do, I’ll share the results!