Don’t think you can use Dr. Seuss in your middle or high school classroom? Think again. This lesson plan on “Oh, the Places You’ll Go" will help you show your students the beauty of Dr. Seuss’s poetry, as well as how they can relate it to their own lives.
Do you think that Dr. Seuss books are only for younger kids? Many teachers have found that “Oh, the Places You’ll Go" is an exception to that rule. Students of all ages – even up through high school – can relate to the themes in the book, while still enjoying the whimsical way that Dr. Seuss expresses them. Use this lesson plan with middle and high school students, especially on the last day of the school year.
You will need the following materials for this lesson:
Reading the Book
Read the book straight through without stopping, showing the pictures on the pages to students as you finish each one. When the word “you" is stressed, such as “And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where you go," speak the lines directly to the class, making it obvious that you are directing your words at them.
Pinpointing Main Themes – Groupwork
Divide students into five groups, and hand each group a notecard that contains one of the following lines from the book:
- I Don’t Choose to Go There
- Bang-Ups and Hang-Ups Can Happen to You
- Everyone is Just Waiting
- You’ll Be Famous as Famous Can Be
- All Alone!
Have students work in their small groups to discuss the words on the notecard that they received. Encourage them to apply Dr. Seuss’s words to their own life experiences. For example, if they receive the notecard that reads, “You’ll be as famous as famous can be," they might discuss whether fame is truly the blessing that the book makes it out to be, as well as times when they wished that they had the fame or honor of others. Students should come up with a short, oral presentation describing their reactions to the line they were given, and each group should take turns coming to the front of the class and describing the ideas they discussed.
Inspiration from Doctor Suess
Discuss with students how Dr. Seuss has inspired many people through his seemingly simple poetry. Instruct them to write a story about a character who is having a problem, but finds a solution through reading “Oh, the Places You’ll Go." You will probably need to supply them with a copy of the book’s text so that they will be able to reference the book when necessary. Students who have not yet finished this exercise by the end of class can finish it for homework.
You can use each group's oral presentation, as well as the individual writing assignments, in order to assess whether students have understood the messages from the book.
I hope this lesson works to inspire your students about the choices they can make and to encourage them to look at their futures with a discerning eye. Teenagers may especially relate to the many of the pages of the novel, so don’t hold back from introducing it to them, even at the high school level. Do you have any further ideas on teaching this book or any of Dr. Suess' works to older students?