Teaching “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

In today’s episode of the Teaching ELA Podcast, I discuss a classic short story from one of America’s top female short story writers of the 20th-century, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. I’ve got an emergency lesson plan you can get on the board right now involving imagery and sensory details. If you’re going to teach one thing from this story that will make teaching this story easier, teach students Naturalism and get them to cite textual evidence to support literary analysis. I discuss this along with suspense, theme, cause and effect and writing a literary analysis.

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  1. If you’re going to teach one thing from this story, I would go with symbolism. I provided a 2-minute lesson for teaching symbolism in this podcast.
  2. Speaking of Symbolism, the lottery is the story’s symbol that holds the key to understand the story’s themes, which include the randomness of life and the silliness of sticking with traditions and superstitions.
  3. Don’t miss this opportunity to teach irony.

Links and Resources

  1. Assorted Short Stories with Irony Lesson Plans
  2. “The Lottery” Lesson Plans Collection at ElaCommonCoreLessonPlans.com (Includes links to lesson plans and videos)
  3. Analyzing Irony in “The Lottery” Lesson Plan

Two Minute Lesson Plan

Symbolism I can cite textual evidence to support analysis. The purpose here is to help students understand how symbolism contributes to the story’s theme. You may want to go over what symbolism is before you start the assignment.

  1. Make a 3-column chart on the board
  2. Label the left column “symbol.” In the left column, write the following in each row: “Lottery,” “Lottery,” “Three-legged Stool,” “Black Box,” “Stones.”
  3. Label the middle column “example of symbol”
  4. Label the right column “Explanation”
  5. Read the story and fill out the left two columns together.
  6. After you read the story, have students collaborate to fill in the right column.
  7. Write a symbolism analysis (only if your students know how to write literary analysis). For help teaching this skill, go to elacommoncorelessonplans.com

That’s an entire 53-minute or more lesson plan that took you 2 minutes to prepare. Since you’re an actual licensed teacher with a degree and everything, feel free to modify it for your class.