The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Poem Analysis Lesson Plan

The Best Laid (Lesson) Plans of Mice and Men


I’m certain the 18th century mouse of whom writes Robert Burns had no idea his home would be destroyed. I’m even more certain he had no idea he would inspire one of the greatest novels in American Literature.


To a Teacher

After teaching students about allegory, imagery, characterization, and plot in Of Mice and Men, I felt good. I bragged to my supervising administrator and demanded a raise. Then a student asked, “From where does the title Of Mice and Men come?” I didn’t know. I had failed my students. In shock, I ran back to my supervising administrator, rescinded my raise request, gave him my most recent paycheck, and cancelled my weekend trip to Jamaica.

I had work to do. I had to find out from where does the title Of Mice and Men come and devise a lesson plan. Here it is.

Where did Of Mice and Men Get its Name?

Of Mice and Men Lesson Plans

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The title of Of Mice and Men is taken from a poem by Robert Burns. “To a Mouse” describes how a mouse’s home is destroyed by a farmer’s plow even though the mouse thinks he has discovered an invulnerable site. Steinbeck borrowed a significant line in the poem to use as his title: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” That is, even the best ideas can fail.

Anyone who has read the novel would agree that Lennie and George’s plans go awry (unless you consider shooting your best friend in the back of the head as a desirable result, of course).

Poem Analysis Procedures

Writing Prompt: Do you agree with Burn’s comment about plans and dreams? Why do you think we still continue to dream despite that many dreams are never realized and many plans are defeated? Write a well-organized paragraph, following the format below.

I. Topic Sentence: Mention the title of poem, the author of the poem and the theme of the poem. Be sure to address how Burns views dreams in the poem? Example: In “To a Mouse,” Robert Burns views dreams with pessimism.
A. Fact #1: (transition, lead-in, quote) To lead into the quote, briefly explain what happens to the     mouse and then connect it to the quote: “The best laid plans o’ mice and men often go awry.”
1. Analysis: How does the mouse’s difficulty illustrate Burn’s viewpoint on the worthlessness of            dreams?
2. Analysis: How does the mouse’s misfortune show the folly of dreams?
B. Fact #2: Remember to begin with a transition that relates the new fact to the previous                 sentence. Example: Despite Burns’ pessimistic view of dreams, they are important…
1. Analysis: Are dreams important even if they don’t come true?
2. Analysis: How do dreams improve our lives?
C. Concluding Sentence: Restate the topic sentence in a new way. No facts here.

ELA Common Core Standards Covered

The following assignments cover the following ELA common core standards for reading and writing.  This is for your administrator, not your kids.  Kids need student-friendly worded objectives.

  1. RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  2. RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
  3. W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  4. W.9-10.3d Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
  5. L.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Additional Resources

Additional resources include this Of Mice and Men Study Guide (for students and teachers) and this brief overview of Naturalism in Literature.

Of Mice and Men Lesson Plans

Use these Of Mice and Men lesson plans to blast student apathy in the back of the head with a luger.

  1. An Of Mice and Men Teacher Review
  2. Teaching Allegory in Of Mice and Men
  3. Teaching Imagery in Of Mice and Men
  4. The Best Laid Lesson Plans of Mice and Men
  5. Teaching and Analyzing Circular Plot in Of Mice and Men
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