British Literature A

British Literature for High School


This was the first "real" literature class I taught to include my son, who was in 8th grade. Many of my students (including my son) had not yet had a class with grades and assignments with due dates. So even though British Lit is usually a subject for high school seniors, I taught it geared toward new high school students. Our class met once a week for an hour, and also had an online community on Google+. Students did weekly assignments and quizzes for grades and we also did a midterm and final both semesters. The second semester final was a role-playing game that wasn't really reproducible, but the others are here.


To introduce students to the study of literature and literary terms, using British literature as material.

To introduce homeschooled students who may not have yet had a formal class to quizzes, assignments with due dates, and graded participation in online learning environments and class discussions.

To improve cultural literacy by at least brushing up against all the major British authors, and delve deeply into the works of a few.


Adventures in English Literature, Pegasus Edition, Harcourt Brace. Readily available used, but it's important to get the right edition if you want the page numbers to line up.

We read four plays that were fully included in the the textbook: Dr. Faustus, The Importance of Being Earnest, Macbeth, and Pygmalion.

Novels (and novellas): Pride and Prejudice, Heart of Darkness, Animal Farm.

History Side By Side:

If you're teaching British history right along with the literature, which I think is a fine idea, I recommend The Story of Britain by Rebecca Frasier. For the first 300 pages, I wrote comprehension questions for each chapter, which you can find here. After that I just talked about the material with my son, without formally quizzing him. Maybe next time around I'll write the rest of the questions.


The first semester, we used QuizStar for online quizzes, so those quizzes show up on the blog post as multiple choice. The second semester, I abandoned QuizStar because we were having a lot of technical problems and I was spending a lot of time resetting quizzes and adding time. So the second twenty lessons have short answer style quizzes.

Also, in the first semester we used buzzers to play Quiz Bowl, and learned a lot of vocabulary and dates that way. Our Quiz Bowl materials are here. The second semester, we started a Quiz Bowl team with its own meetings, so we didn't use the buzzers in lit class anymore.

Lesson Plans

Note: For each lesson plan in the first semester, I have a companion post of "Supplemental Posts" which contains everything I posted to the Google+ community as an assignment or for discussion.

First Semester:

Reading period 1: Kilhwch and Olwen
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 2: The Anglo-Saxon Period
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 3: Medieval
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 4: Chaucer, Malory, Gawain
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 5: The Renaissance
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 6: Dr. Faustus
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 7: Sonnets
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 8: Macbeth Acts 1-3
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 9: Macbeth Acts 4-5
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 10: Metaphysical Poets, Cavalier Poets
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 11: John Milton
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 12: Dryden, Pepys, Defoe
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 13: Moll Flanders
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 14: Swift and Pope
     Supplemental Posts 

Reading period 15: Johnson, Burns, and Blake
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 16: Wordsworth and Coleridge
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 17: Pride and Prejudice 1
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 18: Pride and Prejudice 2
     Bennett Family Portraits

Reading period 19: Byron, Shelley, and Keats
     Supplemental Posts

Reading period 20: Frankenstein

Second Semester:

Reading period 21: Tennyson

Reading period 22: Browning & Browning

Reading period 23: Hopkins and Housman

Reading period 24: Rossetti & Rossetti

Reading period 25: Charles Dickens

Reading period 26: George Eliot

Reading period 27: Rudyard Kipling

Reading period 28: Thomas Hardy

Reading period 29: The Brontës

Reading period 30: Oscar Wilde

Reading period 31: Joseph Conrad

Reading period 32: E.M. Forster

Reading period 33: James Joyce and Virginia Woolf

Reading period 34: D.H. Lawrence

Reading period 35: Samuel Beckett

Reading period 36: George Orwell

Reading period 37: Yeats and Eliot

Reading period 38: Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse

Reading period 39: Modern Poetry

Reading period 40: George Bernard Shaw

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