William Golding’s story of survival has been taught in high school classrooms for decades. Lord of the Flies is not only a great piece of classic literature, but also a valuable case study in behavioral psychology. It is optimal in teaching students how human behavior is affected by rules, fear, and savagery.
The novel begins moments after a plane filled with prep school boys, aged 8-13, has crashed onto a deserted island. The survivors soon realize that no adults have survived the crash. As days lead into weeks, the boys’ chances of rescue diminishes along with their spirit. The boys have followed rules set by parents, teachers, and other authoritative figures for their entire lives. Now that those boundaries have been stripped away they don’t know how to react. At first, the island’s freedom brings the young boys new joy, but eventually it leads to misery and chaos. The boys struggle to build structure and order in the wilderness is in constant battle with their survival instincts.
Today, English teachers spend hours trying to find new, innovative, fun ways to present literature to their students. This is especially true with older literature. While a novel published in 1954 could hardly be considered “old” in the canon of English literature, teenagers today think anything published prior to the millennium is “ancient.”
Lord of the Flies Lesson Plans
This unit plan focuses on themes of power and control in Lord of the Flies. The unit includes creative lesson ideas such as a class game, a mock trial, an ad campaign, character analysis, journal writing, and a Venn diagram.
The New York Times and Bank Street College of Education have collaborated to create lesson plans using news articles of real-life events in relation to prevalent themes in Lord of the Flies. I actually just stumbled upon this website and have bookmarked it as a resource for the future. A common complaint from students about Lord of the Flies is that they find it unrealistic. These articles are a great way to show how themes of control, violence, peer-pressure and mob-mentality relate to society today.
* The Learning Network by The New York Times is a valuable resource with articles and lesson plans designed for numerous subject areas including language arts, social studies, science, math, technology, health, fine arts, and character development. I highly recommend that teachers check it out.
This unit plan comes from a high school in Cardiff, Wales. It has notes, lesson plans and activities based on the main ideas and themes of each chapter. It is a very thorough resource that is especially useful for teachers teaching Lord of the Flies for the first time.
Following the Rules
Breaking the Rules
The following is an online presentation to introduce Lord of the Flies to your students. This is one of those great ideas that you can either “borrow” or use a springboard to create one yourself. Either way, I think presenting the background information in this format will engage students better than the typical lecture notes.
Teaching in the 21st century is quite different than prior to the millennium. Students today are immersed in technology both inside and outside of school. In order for teachers to actively engage their students, they must use technology to enhance classroom learning. Of course, we cannot be expected to modify all of our lesson plans, but we can make an effort to include a few internet activities within each unit of study throughout the school year. I would suggest that teachers thoroughly research all activities and websites beforehand to verify that they are appropriate for their student population.
BrainPOP has a fun interactive game, that students can play independently or as a class, to review and assess their memory of the novel.
Storyboards are a fantastic way to visually engage students in literature. Below are storyboards created by teachers as well as storyboard assignments for students. I highly recommend using these as springboards to develop your own ideas. I have personally found that creating storyboards along with my students has reignited my love for literature and passion for teaching.
Independent and group projects are a great way to break the monotony of reading literature and answering questions every day. When I use the word “monotony” I am speaking on behalf of my students. Unfortunately, my students do not always appreciate the literature in our school’s curriculum, so I’m always looking for more exciting ways to present it to them. The following project ideas will help you explore Lord of the Flies with your students and can easily be adapted for other pieces of literature.
This collection of class activities includes PowerPoint presentations, online review games, news articles, web research, and videos that focus mainly on symbolism and psychological theories.
Information & Interviews with William Golding
The following are reliable sources for background information on William Golding’s life and work:
The Nobel Foundation’s website has information on Nobel Prize Laureates including biographical information, speeches, lectures, interviews, video clips, and photos. William Golding received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1983.
1990 written interview with William Golding
Until John Carey’s William Golding: The Man Who Wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’ was published in 2010, no biography was written about Golding. The links for the New York Times and BBC are book reviews that give you a brief peek at some of the interesting facts Carey reveals about Golding in his biography.
I have not had the chance to read John Carey's biography so I cannot recommend it. I did however find it interesting that William Golding's official website had a synopsis of Carey's biography with links to purchase it.
Video Interviews with William Golding
The following links are videos of interviews with William Golding:
Official Website for William Golding
The official website for author William Golding, which is maintained by his children, gives detailed information on Golding’s life and work. The website includes biographical facts, news, video clips, photos, mass media connections, and resources for teachers, students, and book clubs.
Lord of the Flies 1990 Movie Trailer
I hope this compilation helps teachers who are either teaching Lord of the Flies for the first time or looking for new, fresh ideas. As a teacher, I would suggest that you do not copy these plans word-for-word and use them as your daily script. Instead, use the various ideas as inspiration to shape and mold classroom lessons that fit your own teaching style and students. Good luck and have fun!