Making Curriculum Pop

A couple fun assignments I do are:
The Witch Test Presentations (certainly more of the old English way of discovering witches, but students have a fun time. We also watch the clip from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where they put the witch on trial Burn the Witch!) Students have brought in all sorts of creative props with their presentations. One group made a documentary at the rec center for the witch dunking trial.

"The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" The Twilight Zone (one of the easiest TZ to find online, it's segmented on youtube if you need it right away The Monsters are Due on Maple Street) It deals with the three themes that I explore with the students: intolerance, hysteria, and reputation. Because it was done around the same time as the McCarthyism hysteria, we talk about that connection as well.

Hope this helps some.

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Replies to This Discussion

Patsy, these are great ideas - we all know witches burn because they're made of wood! If I were teaching this text I'd certainly steal your ideas.

Kelly, you might also do some hollywood blacklist stuff: Check this Ronald Reagan transcript from the House Un-American Activities Committee:

You might also compare the crucible to "On the Waterfront." Compare Brando to John Proctor? You can also check out this newer doc about Dalton Trumbo - it MIGHT be high interest enough (I have not seen it but want to) to make a comparison between Trumbo and Proctor. Guilty By Suspicion is also worthy of a preview.

You probably already know but Miller writes extensively about this in his autobiography Timebends, the NY Times webpage on MIller has some tremendous AV + if I recall correctly (I got to see this event before Miller passed) Miller talked about the play when he was by Mel Gussow from the NY Times.

These ideas are not as cool as Kelly's but perhaps they'll be useful additional info!

Kelly and Patsy thanks for coming out on the Ning and sharing!!


Update to the Reagan transcript link, Ryan:

Mark - tnx for the update!

Your post saved my Crucible unit! The kids loved the Twilight Zone episode and many had never even heard of Monty Python, so Burn the Witch was a "flaming" hit. Thanks!

I was just looking over some notes I had from a presentation at NCTE - some folks suggested using the films:

Guilty by Suspicion

The Majestic

Good Night, and Good Luck.

as cool links/ connections to the McCarthyism theme.
I like to use 12 Angry Men (defiant hero) and "The Lottery" ( the madness).
Helen added this resource...

Comment by Helen on January 22, 2010 at 4:47pm
Delete Comment Thought I would share a resource for your students that helps them get background knowledge, review what they have read, or get another view of what the book is about in 60 second segments. Most of the books listed above are part of the 60 second library.
Check out the quick recaps for The Crucible:
I've just joined and seen this, Thanks so much for posting it' the Monty Python will really spice up my Crucible lessons. Too bad though that Twighlight Zone clips seem unavailable to me here in Thailand.

We generally have a good bit of fun with the play. I have multilevel projects kids can chose from as a culminating activity and have had some very good ones, such as a puppet show version of the play done in a condensed version-- it was a total of 4 minutes long.
My students and I really enjoyed the Witch Test Presentations, the student demonstrations were THE BEST! They also really enjoyed doing the Interactive Salem Witch Trials on the National Georgraphic Website, which can be found at It is pretty low key, but they really got a kick out of it.


Lady Gaga on trial in Salem.  (Clip starts around 35 seconds) 

The Crucible / Puritan Wife Swap!


This is a great way to introduce Puritan beliefs before reading. Very funny. 



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