Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RL:  Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
  • 9-10:  9th & 10th Grades
  • 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.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RL:  Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
  • 9-10:  9th & 10th Grades
  • 9: 
    Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

When a Lesson Goes Wrong
Lesson Objective: Prepare to write a literary analysis paper
Grades 9-12 / ELA / Analysis
ELA.RL.9-10.2 | ELA.RL.9-10.9


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Thought starters

  1. How does Ms. Wessling know that her lesson isn't working?
  2. Notice the changes Ms. Wessling makes for the second lesson. How does she modify both the content and structure of her lesson?
  3. What can you learn from Ms. Wessling about reflecting on your practice?

Thank you for this -- it's so important for us to practice the same reflection that we ask of our students. 

Recommended (0)

Thank you for sharing the videos. The teacher reflection and changing the lesson is very powerful for every teacher and administrator.

Recommended (0)
Thank you for sharing this- I've been running into this problem all semester in 8-9th grade mixed class of all level ESL students. I have students with no English at all and others with a high level- my biggest problem is finding a place where all groups 'learn' something.
Recommended (0)
This normally happen whit ELL's.. Big idea about how to get back control of the lesson. Thank you
Recommended (2)
This has happened to me before. I try to always keep a backup plan or lesson to incorporate when the one I am teaching does not go the way I planned.
Recommended (0)


  • [00:00]
    Interviewer: For a teacher, some days you win, some days you lose. My third hour tenth-grade English class came

    Interviewer: For a teacher, some days you win, some days you lose. My third hour tenth-grade English class came completely unhinged, and I had five minutes in which to repurpose it for fourth hour.

    No matter how accomplished you are or how effective you are as a teacher, I think these days are going to happen, so when they do, you have to make adjustments.

    All right, so a couple of things. Let’s do this. Shh. Okay, can I get everybody up here? Thank you.

    It fell apart. [Laughter] I mean, the whole lesson fell apart. I completely overshot this.

    Yesterday, we talked about this idea of reputation, and we were thinking about what happens when your name gets smeared.

    The goal for today’s class was to get students prepared to begin writing a literary analysis paper over The Crucible in which they would examine the role of losing or preserving one’s reputation, and in addition to that, look at including some additional resources in that literary analysis.

    Take out a piece of paper. Fold hot dog and hamburger so that when you’re done, you’ve got a piece of paper with four quadrants on it.

    Really, when students are coming to analysis, they are definitely having to explicitly integrate both their knowledge about conceptual understandings and then ideas.

    At the top, I want you to put this. “The impact of preserving or losing reputation.” This is gonna be our reading purpose. We’ve read The Crucible already, and so you’re gonna be able to think of some examples, and then these other three are going to be some sources that you are gonna choose. There you go.

    In retrospect, I couldn’t see how the packet of materials itself was a little overwhelming. When I’ve done this kind of bundling in the past, it’s been a lot thinner. One of the first things I heard them say was, “Oh, my gosh. This packet is huge.”

    Male Voice: Oh, this is huge.

    Interviewer: It is, but you’re not gonna read it all.

    I think I heard myself saying something like, “Oh, but it’s not that bad. There are lots of excerpts.

    Male Voice: This is a lot of paper.

    Interviewer: No, we’re not gonna—it’s—it’ll be okay.

    Male Voice: It’s a lot of paper.

    Interviewer: It is a lot of paper.

    Even at that moment, I was realizing, “Oh, boy. We might be in trouble here.”

    Female Voice: It’s so [inaudible 02:36].

    Interviewer: Here you go.

    Female Voice: Do you have [inaudible 02:37]?

    Interviewer: I want you to put these in order. Which ones do you think would be the most helpful to our purpose to the least helpful? You ready? Okay, so let’s take a look here.

    Sometimes I can see the mistake that I have made early on in the lesson, and I can adjust quickly and be really flexible within the context of a class period.

    Let me see—least useful.

    Today, it was too complex to even do that.

    Okay, so why is Arthur Miller’s—hey, folks. All right, so why is Arthur Miller’s biography not helpful to our purpose? Joe 03:14?

    Male Voice: I don’t know why.

    Interviewer: You don’t know why?

    Male Voice: No.

    Interviewer: But you—but you’re pretty sure it’s not useful?

    Male Voice: Let me check. I’ll get back to you on it.

    Interviewer: Okay. Anybody else?

    By the time we get to this point, I’ve been in front of the class almost the whole class period, and that was not my intention. I was, in my mind, already making decisions about what we weren’t going to do. I could tell we weren’t going to get in these groups. They weren’t gonna read as much as I had hoped.

    We’re gonna have about a third of the class read one, about a third of the class read number four and a third of the class read number five. They’re all about the same length. Shh.

    They started to chatter, and I can see that they have checked out. It reminds me that my students always tell me what I need to know.

    All right, so this is what I’m going to do. Folks, I need you to listen up.

    Male Voice: Where did you get this?

    Interviewer: I said, “Okay. We’ve got ten minutes to start reading,” and they just turned to each other and they start talking.

    All right, folks. You don’t have much time. Let’s get started reading. You’re reading it to yourselves. All right, folks. You guys are so not doing this, are you? No, you’re really not, are you? Okay.

    Male Voice: No.

    Interviewer: This is one of these moments where I have a choice in how I react. I can either kind of go along with my knee-jerk reaction, which is to say, “Oh, they’re being disrespectful,” or, “They’re not listening,” or, “They’re not being good students.” But another way for me to think about it—and the way that I choose to think about it—is I’ve done something to make them act like this, because usually, they don’t.


    Female Voice: I don’t understand.

    Interviewer: What?

    Female Voice: Big words in here that I don’t understand.

    Interviewer: There are big words in there that you don’t understand? Like where, hon?

    [05:00] Then there was this moment where I realized that I had completely misfired because one of my students did start to read when I asked them to, and she read the first paragraph, and she raised her hand and she said, “I don’t know what any of these words mean.”

    Female Voice: Just everywhere. Like what does this mean?

    Interviewer: Thoreau? That’s an author. Okay?

    Female Voice: Oh, and what is this?

    Interviewer: Where at, honey?

    Female Voice: With the P. Where’d it go? Right here.

    Interviewer: Oh, I don’t know. You can look it up.

    I thought, “Oh, boy.” There it is. [Laughter] That’s the moment where you realize, okay, this is a great kid. She’s a hard worker. She has a strong vocabulary and I wasn’t paying close enough attention to what I was putting in front of them, that I didn’t create enough scaffolds for them to be successful right in this moment.

    All right, folks. Let’s do this. Shh. Why don’t you come back. We’ve got—we only have three minutes.

    What I realized is that I opted to try to meet the standards, make sure that the common assessment that I share with the rest of my department meets the criteria of what we had talked about earlier in this year. In thinking about the adults, I compromised the needs of the kids.

    All righty. I will see you later. ‘Bye, guys. Have a good weekend.

    All right. That was a total disaster and we’re gonna have to fix it. All right. Regroup. Well, that sucked.

    This was one of those days where I have two ILA classes back-to-back. I have five minutes, and I’ve gotta figure out what I’m gonna do because I don’t wanna do that again.

    I didn’t teach them anything, so we’re gonna reorganize here.

    The first thing that I did is I remember that I had heard myself talking too much, and so I put them back in pods because I knew I was going to do something where they were going to have to be more interactive than they were in the first version of it.

    I need to really think quickly here about how to get them to understand what leadership has to do with John Proctor, what civil disobedience has to do with John Proctor, so what we need to do is get rid of the discussion at the beginning, still work with the sources—or maybe not work with the sources. Why don’t you guys go ahead—go ahead and sit in your groups.

    I still wasn’t quite sure, and in my mind, I kept thinking, “All right. I’ve given them too many complex things.” I’m thinking, “All right. What are my big ideas? Impact on reputation, leadership, civil disobedience.” They’ve gotta be able to somehow at least see how these ideas connect.

    Morning, everybody. This is what we’re gonna do today.

    Then the next class comes in. I knew that I had to simplify, and I had figured that much out in the five minutes, but I hadn’t figured out the strategy.

    Today, I’m gonna ask you to kind of connect some other concepts to this idea of losing one’s reputation or preserving one’s reputation.

    Even if I’m gonna simplify, they still need a visual in order to help them understand kind of these heady ideas.

    I’m gonna have—let’s see, right. I’m gonna have your two groups—I’m gonna give each of you some paper. Here, let’s do this.

    Then, as I’m kind of walking [laughter], I just think, “Oh, yes. We’re gonna do this traveling or progressive concept map.”

    Okay. We’re gonna do traveling concept maps, all right? There ya go. Sorry. I hope I didn’t give you a paper cut. Not too huge in the center, I want you to start by putting this phrase. “The impact of losing or preserving a reputation.” Then the first layer that I’m going to ask you to do is as a group, I want you to think of at least three or four different ways in The Crucible that we see this idea. You’re gonna just make one bubble for each of them.

    Got them back into the play—many of them had their books out. They were thinking not just about John Proctor but about other characters.

    Male Voice: I think him admitting to adultery almost preserved their reputation.

    Interviewer: Okay, so then write that down. Okay.

    Male Voice: What a good example would be when Mary Warren turns on Proctor during court.

    Interviewer: Mm-hmm. Yeah. That’s a wonderful example because she’s doing that, isn’t she?

    Male Voice: Yeah.

    Interviewer: Everybody rotate their concept map clockwise.

    Then the concept map travels.

    I want you to first of all take about 30 seconds to look and see what they wrote, and then I want you to take a look at this packet that I’ve given you.

    [10:00] Now it’s time to use some of these resources that I’ve given them in this big huge packet. [Laughter] Again, I’m paying attention to what my students in the third-hour class taught me, which is that this is too much.

    Start with the first one.

    I chose one paragraph that came from the civil disobedience piece.

    You’re looking for sentences that you think might have ideas in them that would help you address this topic.

    Even if they didn’t know the words, maybe if they heard them, perhaps that would help with the comprehension. Then I told them to summarize by talking to the other people at their pod.

    All right. Let me hear a few of these summaries. Hannah 10:35, what was yours?

    Female Voice: You have to do what’s right no matter if it’s against the law or not.

    Interviewer: I realized kind of in that moment that if we could focus in on some key vocabulary words, that would be the next round of the concept map.

    Are there any words in this paragraph that you think might be helpful in explaining this concept?

    Female Voice: Obligation.

    Interviewer: Obligation, okay.

    Male Voice: Rather than betraying.

    Interviewer: Okay.

    I truly am thinking on my feet. I didn’t know we were gonna do the vocabulary, but I’m listening to the students [laughter], right? I’m just trying to listen to them, and this is what they’re telling me.

    In a different color, I want each of you to add something to one of the bubbles that’s already there, and I want you to explain it using at least one of these words. Gonna give it a try. Let’s give it a try.

    These are concepts, so it’s not just that they’re using “obligation” as a word. It’s not just a filler word, but they’re using “obligation” as a way to understand these characters who are struggling with their reputations.

    Before you pass this one more time, will you just write kind of down here at the bottom or on the side or somewhere, “How does civil disobedience have an impact on reputation?” Answer that question for me.

    Male Voice: It negatively impacts their reputation.

    Female Voice: ‘Cause if you go against the law, people normally would think bad about you. They wouldn’t ever think it’s good to go against the norm.

    Interviewer: Unless you’re Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Female Voice: Yeah.

    Interviewer: All right.

    Female Voice: [Laughter]

    Interviewer: A lot of you wrote that civil disobedience negatively impacts your reputation, okay? But what about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi?

    Female Voice: It did in some ways, but it also made them more noticeable and people listened to them more.

    Interviewer: That’s really important.

    They’re starting to make the connection between these two big ideas, and then we rotate again. [Laughter]

    On this last ring here, what I’m gonna ask you to think about is what leadership has to do with reputation and civil disobedience, all right?

    I read this one out loud as well.

    He says, “We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth earned under early generations of leaders made us complacent.”

    I again have them do the summary back and forth.

    Jake 13:03, tell me what you just said.

    Male Voice: People don’t try to do more than the have to, maybe?

    Male Voice: People aren’t free thinkers. They just do what other people tell them to.

    Interviewer: Okay. I’m going to ask you to now explain what leadership has to do with all of this, okay? You might find it really helpful to use some of this language, okay? You’re gonna choose just one, okay?

    Male Voice: I think this one would be a better example, so he’s doing what he wants and that’s kind of—represents leadership.

    Interviewer: Even though it’s very stressful to be figuring it out as you’re going because you know that what you had wasn’t working, it is really good to see that at the end, there were kids who were drawing some really beautiful conclusions. It’s good to have these moments that you can look at and say, “Well, with more simplified apparatus, we were successful.”

    See you guys later.

    The bell has rung, and I do what I always do in these moments which is march myself right down to my colleague Kate’s 14:10 room and process it with somebody, because it’s hard to process these things on your own.

    It totally—woo!

    Female Voice: It did not go well?

    Interviewer: You wanna establish the kinds of relationships with people that you can go to them and you can say, “I made a mistake,” or, “I feel like I didn’t handle this very well,” and you’re willing to hear their honest response.

    Female Voice: Analysis is just so hard for them to wrap their minds around period.

    Interviewer: It is. It is, although the second class that I did—I totally changed what we did from third to fourth hour, but they did come up with some really—they were doing some really good thinking. It was kind of—it was hard for them, but they were doing some really good thinking, and I think that some of the lines and the phrases that they wrote on these concept maps would be beautiful to put in
    [15:00] a—like a personal slash—but then it’s not literary analysis, and I’m the one who’s saying we forgot to do literary analysis in our new curriculum.

    Female Voice: Right, but you can’t ask all 15-year-olds to be able to really engage in—really elaborate on civil disobedience in The Crucible. You just can’t. Some of them can and some of them will. Awesome.

    Interviewer: This is where it gets really difficult to do what is right for kids and adhere to the standards because in the end, they are not ready to pull in more sources when they are doing a literary analysis, because that in and of itself is just too hard. I can’t find the center of it. I think that’s the problem.

    Female Voice: You know—like you said—what’s right for kids. It’s not like you haven’t given them the experience of incorporating multiple texts and of course—yes, you wanna do it again.

    Interviewer: We’ve done it in small ways this semester, but we just haven’t done it as the whole big thing.

    Female Voice: You have to let go of that.

    Interviewer: In the end, we have to be nurturing to ourselves. We have to be careful with our expectations and realize that we can still teach to these heightened expectations, but it’s going to have to come at a pace that makes sense to the kids who are in front of us.

    [End of audio]

School Details

Johnston Senior High School
6501 Northwest 62nd Avenue
Johnston IA 50131
Population: 1548

Data Provided By:



Sarah Brown Wessling
English Language Arts / 10 11 12 / Teacher


Teaching Practice

Project-based Learning, PBL, Projects, Engagement

Teaching Practice

All Grades/ All Subjects/ Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Culture

TCH Special

Grades 6-12, All Subjects, Civic Engagement


Lesson Planning


Professional Learning


Next Generation Science Standards