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Lesson Plan

Critical Literacy: Women in 19th-Century Literature

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Critical Literacy: Women in 19th-Century Literature

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 45- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Elizabeth Nolan Conners

Weston, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives






  • Computers with Internet access and printing capability (preferably one computer for each student)

  • Overhead projector (optional)

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Comparison and Contrast Guide

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Comparison and Contrast Guide

The Comparison and Contrast Guide outlines the characteristics of the genre and provides direct instruction on the methods of organizing, gathering ideas, and writing comparison and contrast essays.


Compare & Contrast Map

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Compare & Contrast Map

The Compare & Contrast Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to organize and outline their ideas for different kinds of comparison essays.


Venn Diagram

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Venn Diagram

This interactive tool allows students to create Venn diagrams that contain two or three overlapping circles, enabling them to organize their information logically.


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1. Make a copy for each student of the first two chapters of Behind A Mask by Louisa May Alcott. (These chapters can be printed from the online publication or photocopied from a reprint edition.)

2. Print from the websites and make a copy for each student of the Louisa May Alcott biographical sketch, and review the website Selected Images From Godey's Lady's Book.

3. Make a copy for each student of the Critical Literacy handout, Essay Assignment and Grading Rubric handout, and Louisa May Alcott: Magazine Publications handout.

4. Prepare a "Critical Literacy K-W-L" chart on chart paper or overhead transparency for use in Session 1.

5. Arrange access to computers with Internet access for Sessions 2 and 3. Familiarize yourself with the Comparison and Contrast Guide, the interactive Venn Diagram, and the Compare & Contrast Map and decide which, if any, you will use for the class discussion (Session 4) and essay writing assignment (Session 5). Schedule access to the computers for these sessions if necessary.

6. Visit the Godey's Lady's Book: Hope Greenberg website and familiarize yourself with some of the articles and short stories posted there so you can suggest several titles if students have difficulty locating appropriate selections during Session 3.

7. Familiarize yourself with issues of gender and class in 19th-century American society so you can supply relevant information for class discussion of these issues. A good online resource for this, if needed, is 19th Century U.S. History Sites Online (see especially the sites listed under "Women's Rights Movement & Women in 19th Century History"). Be sure that you can answer the questions raised in Session 1, Step 3.

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