The Crucible

Unit Plan

Phil Coogan
Adapted by Linda Scott
4 weeks

California Language Arts Content Standards
Standards Addressed in this Unit
Listening and Speaking
1.0Listening and Speaking Strategies
Organization and Delivery of Oral Communication
1.7 Use appropriate rehearsal strategies to pay attention to performance details, achieve command of the text, and create skillful artistic staging.
1.9 Use research and analysis to justify strategies for gesture, movement, and vocalization, including dialect, pronunciation, and enunciation.
1.10 Evaluate when to use different kinds of effects (e.g., visual, music, sound, graphics) to create effective productions.
2.0 Speaking Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
d. Demonstrate an awareness of the author's use of stylistic devices and an appreciation of the effects created.
e. Identify and assess the impact of perceived ambiguities, nuances, and complexities within the text.
Supporting Standards


Smiley Select and adapt these learning activities to best meet the needs of your students, and to fit the time available:

NB. Teachers wishing to have their students study The Crucible as part of a wider thematic unit, should visit this webquest - The Crucible: Timeless Persecutions.

  1. Engaging with the Issues

    • Make a 3 column grid on the board with the columns headed: (1) Group (2) Reasons (3) Result which students copy. Individually, get them to list under "Group" those sections of society who are the subject of prejudice or who tend to be blamed for social, economic and moral ills.






      Teachers may also wish to draw attention to current events which echo the Salem Witch Trials eg. the treatment of Moslems in the United States since 9/11.

    • List the groups nominated by the students on the board under "Group". Put a check mark after groups nominated more than once.

    • Now in small groups, students select from the class list, one of the nominated groups (which preferably appears more than once).

    • Students complete the grid for that group; ie. under "Reasons", they list their understanding of the reasons why that group is subject to blame or prejudice and then the under "Results", list some of the ways that the prejudice/blame is expressed socially.

    • Share findings across the class, completing the grid on the board with students saving a copy to return to later in the Themes section.

  2. Background to the Play
    Prior to reading the play students need to explore the background of the play and its author, specifically:
    • Arthur Miller and why he wrote the play
    • Witchcraft
    • The Salem Witchhunts of the 1690s
    • McCarthyism and the crack-down on communists in the 1950s

    Schedule the library (including Internet access) for two research periods in which students are assigned one of the research topics.

    Students then report back their findings in five minute mini seminars.

    Teachers and students will also find useful the notes on the literary background to the play, which includes sections on Social Drama and Tragedy and the list of related quotations which have a philosophical link to Miller's themes.

  3. Reading the Play
    Reading through the play can be most rewarding and useful when a variety of approaches are used. Here are some options:

    1. Games designed to enliven interest in and deepen understanding of The Crucible.

    2. Prepared readings - all class members are assigned a part to read in class. This will mean 2-3 class members are assigned to each significant part. The students becomes the 'experts' about this character. Not only do they share the reading but they also become familiar with the stage directions which pertain to that character's speeches so that they are able to explain their speeches, to the whole class. Students need to read ahead each night so that they are comfortable and confident when they come to read in class.

    3. Walk throughs - some critical scenes are selected for more physical acting out. Character 'experts' (see above) form groups and rehearse selected scenes (or more probably parts thereof) prior to presenting them to the rest of the class. Teachers may decide that variation 1 involving paraphrase, is more appropriate.

    4. The above can be interspersed with excerpts from the film versions or sound clips from the play.

    5. For a more detailed exploration of the process of bringing scripts to life in performance, see Bringing Text to Life, from the Harvard University Education With New Technologies project.

  4. The Characters
    There are a variety of approaches teachers could use to help students understand characters and their conflicts. Choices may depend upon time available and the degree of focus on examination preparation.

    Starter: View these stills from the film version of The Crucible. Ask students how well the casting for the movie matched their pre-conception of the characters. In what ways were their preconceptions confirmed or challenged!

    1. Students write prose answers to the character questions.
    2. Students group with other class members who became character experts (during the reading - see 3b). The group takes responsibility for their character and present that character to the class using the character questions as a guide and illustrating all points with brief dramatizations from the play.
    3. Or, again using the character questions as a guide students prepare to hotseat characters.
    4. For examination preparation, each group prepares a one page hand-out for other class members, which answers the character questions.

  5. A Closer Look at the Language of the Crucible

    1. Students read the introductory notes about the language of the play before undertaking an activity which asks them to explore particular language features in more depth.

  6. Themes
    Again teachers might select from one of these approaches:

    1. Students could write answers to the questions about themes individually or develope one theme into an essay.

    2. Groups could be allocated one of the questions about themes each to report back to the class (and, for examination purposes, provide a one page summary of their responses for each class member).

    3. Alternatively group members, using the thematic questions, could take on the role of expert using the jigsaw method to share their findings with other class members.

Webquests related to this unit:






A viewing of the film The Crucible