ALEX Lesson Plan


Who Deserves to Live?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Rhonda Courson
System: Sylacauga City
School: Nichols-Lawson Middle School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33198


Who Deserves to Live?


This lesson introduces the short story version of Flowers for Algernon

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
ELA2015 (8)
9. By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of Grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently. [RL.8.10]
ELA2015 (8)
30. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on Grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly. [SL.8.1]
a. Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion. [SL.8.1a]
b. Follow rules for collegial discussions and decision-making, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed. [SL.8.1b]
c. Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others' questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas. [SL.8.1c]
d. Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented. [SL.8.1d]
ELA2015 (8)
39. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases based on Grade 8 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies. [L.8.4]
a. Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word's position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase. [L.8.4a]
b. Use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., precede, recede, secede). [L.8.4b]
c. Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech. [L.8.4c]
d. Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary). [L.8.4d]

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

The students will be introduced to the theme "Quality of Life" in the story Flowers for Algernon.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Students will need the handouts "What about my school? and "Think Boxes"

The teacher will need the papers titled "If I Could Change, Would I? and "Girrrl, I didn't even recognize you!"


Technology Resources Needed:

The teacher will need a computer that has Internet access. She/he will also need a projector and a document camera.


The teacher will need to print a copy of the papers titled "If I Could Change, Would I?" and "Girrrrl, I didn't even recognize you!"

She/he will also need to photocopy the handouts "What About My School?" and "Think Boxes"

The teacher will need to review the PowerPoint to make sure it works and she/he thinks the students are mature enough to handle the content and pictures.  

The teacher will need to check the link to the Theme website and make sure it works.


This lesson is designed to introduce the theme of the short story "Flowers for Algernon." 


1.  The teacher should put the paper titled "If I Could Change, Would I?" (attached) on the document camera to show the students.  

2.  Each student should write his/her personal answers to the questions posed. After allowing students to think individually, the teacher should encourage them to share the answers they feel comfortable sharing, with at least one other student sittling nearby. 

3.  Next, the teacher should explain that the short story the students are going to begin reading the next day in class is about a mentally retarded man who was given the chance to change himself via a medical experiment. 

4.  The teacher should click on this link to go to a website that lists the Themes present in the short story. Then, she/he should explain to the students that today they will focus on the last theme listed on the webpage: Biotechnology. Specifically, the the moral debate created as a result of biotechnology.


5.  The teacher should show the PowerPoint. The first exercise in the PowerPoint is the Life Boat Theory.  

6.  Allow students to work in groups to discuss and decide who they will save and who they will throw overboard.  

7.  After an appropriate amount of time, ask each group to share who they threw out of the life boat.  Explain that they just made some decisions based on quality of life and selective reduction, which is the theme of the story we are going to read.

8.  Continue through the PowerPoint (attached). Have students stop periodically (after slide 9, slide 14, slide 21, slide 27, slide 29, and slide 35) and respond to what they are seeing and learning.

9.  The students can either "turn and talk" to their neighbor or they can complete "Think Boxes" (attached).  Either way is fine, as long as the students reapond to the emotionally charged information in chunks. 


10.  After seeing the complete PowerPoint and responding to the content, the students should complete the "What about My School" handout. (attached) 

Optional:  If you'd like to end on a funny note, a little comic relief in the midst of such a serious subject, show the "Girrrrl, I didn't even recognize you" paper (attached) 

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Assessment Strategies

All assessments are formative because this is an introductory lesson.

Before: The teacher will circulate around the room and listen to the students' conversations about what they would change. 

During: The teacher can look over the Think Boxes or listen to discussion during the times of reflection.

After: The teacher can either collect the students' answers to the "What about at MY School?" handouts, or she can allow time for a whole group discussion based on the students' answers. 


I think advanced-level students will find this subject matter sufficiently challenging. However, if they do not, they could research any of the topics introduced in the PowerPoint, or they could research the use of biotechnology in medicine. Send them to this website BioMed.


This lesson only requires students to form opinions, not answer academically correct  answers, so the struggling student should be okay.  

The teacher should remind the students that they are not going to be tested on the information on the PowerPoint, it is just a means of creating interest in the new story the class is going to read. 

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.