Developing Lesson Plans

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  • My special education class read a popular novel last quarter and I created a set of lesson plans based on that novel including vocabulary, discussion questions, and tests.

    Do I need the author's permission to publish these plans on a website where teachers pay to access them?

    M. Anderson
  • gannon,

    Is it not really possible to answer your question without understanding what went into the lesson plans. Is it 100% your original work, with only names of characters or selected vocabulary words reprinted from the book? Or do you include passages from the book? Without seeing the lesson plans or fully understanding their contents, it is hard to tell to what extent you have actually used any of the novelist's work.
  • The plans included vocab words, comprehension and analysis questions,and references to the characters and the plot. I feel it is 100% my work.

    I did not quote passages or use anything from the book itself except for the vocab and character's names and roles.

  • Given your statement that the lesson plan contains all your own work (except for the necessary references to the character names), it does sound like your use would quality as a Fair Use. Why don't you perform a Fair Use evaluation, a process that requires you to work through all four factors required by US Copyright law (US Code, Title 17, Section 107). You can use the popular Fair Use checklist at to guide you through the analysis and document your effort to weigh all four factors.
  • Thanks all for your advice. GClement, I'm off to the Fair Use Evaluation.
  • Great! One final thought I had while mulling over this question is that an analagous situation might be the various GRE prep guides put out by publishers other than ETS, the developers the of the GRE exam itself. These other publishers are able to produce and sell (presumably) useful guides without infringing the copyright of ETS. How do they accomplish this? By not using any content from the GRE exam. They do not reproduce actual questions from the exam; rather they make up comparable questions that cover the same types of content. These other publishers can still refer to the GRE test, its overall content and its structure in their own guides, but they can't use actual material included in the ETS product line.

    Good luck with your lesson plans!

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