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Lesson Plan

Writing Alternative Plots for Robert C. O'Brien's Z for Zachariah

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Writing Alternative Plots for Robert C. O'Brien's Z for Zachariah

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lara Hebert, EdM

Lara Hebert, EdM

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology






  • Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien

  • Example of a "Choose your Own Adventure or Mystery" book

  • Word processor and printer

  • Green and brown construction paper or bulletin board paper

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  • Depending on the teacher's reading program, availability of materials, and the maturity and reading level of students, the novel, Z for Zachariah, needs to be read aloud or read independently and discussed. Whether reading aloud or with discussion groups, this novel is great for modeling and practicing comprehension strategies, especially predicting with support, personal connections, and visualizing. Be sure that discussions throughout the novel have included some of Ann Burden's moral dilemmas and her choices. Stop at a point where she mentions a tough choice and ask the students what choice they would make in her position.

  • Make copies of the handouts for the lesson: the Rubric handout, and if desired, the Cause and Effect Chain handout.

  • Test the Plot Alternatives Designer on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tool and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.

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