Helping students make connections between literature and life is sometimes difficult. This unit is designed to do just that Each activity has a way that students can draw on their own life experiences to more thoroughly understand the themes that Lowis Lowry is trying to convey. I’ve also made use of alternative writing assignements to help students develop various styles of writing and write for a particular audience. This unit is based on the Utah state core objectives, but may be adapted to fit any objectives you wish. Through this unit, your students will have a lot of fun and make a lot of great connections between literature and life.
a. Objective 3: Demonstrate competency in reading and interpreting LITERARY text.
i. Use comprehension strategies before, during, and after reading a literary text, e.g., myth, essay, poetry, young adult literature, classics.
ii. Recognize the features of each literary genre to increase understanding and appreciation of literature, e.g., myth, essay, poetry, young adult literature, classics.
iii. Recognize and interpret the elements of literature, e.g., theme, metaphor, symbolism, types of conflict, dialogue.
iv. Compare and/or contrast the experiences of various cultures that might be reflected in the literature.
v. Share responses to text, e.g., small and whole class discussion, book clubs, visual presentations, written response, multi-media.
II. Content Objectives:
a. Students will be able to find and understand themes found in a novel and how the author conveys those themes.
b. Students will be able to make connections between literature and their lives, experiences, and societies.
c. Students will be able to use an alternative genre to convey meaning
a. Opening activity: (Teacher will model activity first.) In groups of 3-4 answer the following questions: Imagine that you can create a perfect society. What would it look like? Who would be in it? Where would it be? What kinds of rules would you have? Who would be the leader? Create an ad campaign for your perfect society. This can include jingles, billboards, magazine ads, radio commercials, etc. You must present your society to the class, which will vote on the best one in the next class period.
b. Discussion: Teacher led class discussion with the following questions: Why did you choose that
society? What did you like about it? For those of you who voted differently, what didn’t you like about it?
Do you think it’s possible to pull it off? What kinds of liberties were lost? Where they important? Is it fair
for one person to choose what a perfect society is?
journal: Students are to keep a reading journal while they read the book. This will contain summaries of chapters and significant events, lists of characters, unknown or new vocabulary, and also reactions to the reading and questions they may have about the reading. They will also do their in class journal writes in this journal.
ii. Chapters 1-2:
1. Journal prompt: Discuss some of the feelings you have had today in a specific situation. Put your feelings into words like they do in the book.
2. Discussion: Why would they share feelings like this? What purpose does it serve? How would you feel if you had to do something like this with your family every night?
3. Euphemism activity: Lois Lowry helps create an alternate world by having the community use words in a very special way. Though that world stresses what it calls “precision of language,” in fact it is built upon language that is not precise, but that deliberately clouds meaning. Consider what Jonas’s community really means by words such as: released, feelings, animals, Nurturer, Stirrings,replacement child, and Elsewhere. (Teacher will create a word wall to be added to as more euphemisms are found in the novel) Examine the ways that Jonas’s community uses euphemism to distance itself from the reality of what is called “Release.” How does our own society use euphemism to distance the realties of death, bodily functions, aging, and political activities? What benefits and disadvantages are there to such a use of language? Create a Wall Text of some of the euphemisms you find in our own society to present to the class.
iii. Chapters 3-5:
1. Journal prompt: Write about a dream you had last night or in the last couple of nights. Describe it as best as you can
2. Dream activity: Hand out dream interpretation sheet. Have students interpret their dreams in groups of 2-3. Students will fill out the dream interpretation worksheet and answer the questions at the bottom.
3. Discuss as a class: Why are dreams important? Why would they be something that the government needs to control? Can dreams be dangerous? Discuss idea of political control.
iv. Chapters 6-8:
1. Journal Prompt: If you could have any job what would it be and why?
2. Discuss dream jobs. List on the board and discuss why they are popular and what you need to do to get them.
3. Your job assignment activity: Teacher calls up students one at a time and hands them an index card with a job on it and announces it to the class. No one may trade jobs and everyone must keep the job given. Students must then fill out job worksheet with questions like what is your job? How do you feel about the assignment? Is it suited to you? What is the best part? What is the worst part? How do you feel having your job assigned with no choice?
4. Discuss worksheet in groups and then as a class. Relate to Jonas and his friends.
v. Chapters 9-10:
1. Journal prompt: When is it ok to lie? Or is it ok? Why?
2. Discussjournal prompt. Discuss lying and when it is or is not appropriate
3. Book connection: Why is Jonas allowed to lie? Why would they want him to lie? When would it be necessary? Do you think it’s fair for them to change his life so completely or do you think he’s being freed? What do we think about the other rules? Why would he want medication? Why would he want release?
4. Writing journal: Predict what you think is going to happen next to Jonas. Consider the following questions in your answers. Why does the government need him? Why is the Giver so weighted down?
vi. Chapters 11-13:
1. Journal prompt: How would you feel if you woke up tomorrow and the world was all black and white? Would you miss the color? Why?
2. Color activity: Place different colored pieces of paper around the classroom e.g. yellow, red, green, black, white, pink, etc. Have a marker at each piece of paper. The students will go from station to station writing what they associate with the color from objects to feelings and memories. When the teacher says SWITCH, the students move to the next paper and continue. When finished, discuss the different associations with colors. Yellow=happy, sunshine, warmth, Red=anger, heat, love, Black=death, sadness, Etc. Discuss why the government there is no color in the community in the book. Have students wrap up.
3. Closing journal write: Why does the community ban color? Why would they think it would be dangerous
vii. Chapters 14-17:
1. Journal Prompt: Pretend you are speaking to a child. Explain war and pain.
2. Read to class Lois Lowry’s speech “Beginning of Sadness” and give a copy to the students
3. Discuss speech and reactions. Relate it to the book and its themes. Why do people need to experience pain? Why would the government hide these memories?
4. Writing prompt: What did Lowry’s words mean to you? What kind of insight does this give you into Jonas’ character?
viii. Chapter 18-20:
1. Journal prompt: Do you ever think that euthanasia is a good idea? Why? Why not?
2. Debate activity: Students are placed in two sides, those who agree with release, and those who do not. Students will be placed randomly, so they must stretch their ideas and so there is equal representation for each side. Students must support their side using the novel as to why it is or is not appropriate. The groups must create an outline showing their ideas and their proof. The class will then debate the idea.
3. Writing journal: How would you feel if you were Jonas and you witnessed your father releasing the baby? Discuss your feelings.
ix. Chapters 21-23:
1. Journal prompt: Lois Lowry says, “I find it an optimistic ending.” Why would she say that? What do you think? Is it a good ending? A bad ending?
2. Discuss the ending. Why did it end that way? Read Lowry’s full quote about the ending of the novel.
3. Writing journal: Write your own ending. The ending is very open ended. No one really knows what happened. Some guess that they died; others guess that they lived on. The students are to write their own ending to the story, picking up where it left off.
a. Model Comparison: Teacher creates a Venn Diagram on the board with the society from the book and a separate society. Teacher and students fill in different ideas as they compare and contrast the two societies. This shows students how to effectively compare and contrast.
b. Final project: In groups of 3-4, create a newspaper in which you compare and contrast the society in the Giver with a modern society. You may choose from , communism, the Quakers, the Amish, or the society in a different country. Clear your subject with the teacher first. Your newspaper must include several articles, and may include ads, classifieds, editorials, etc. Everyone must participate. Each person must contribute at least 2 items, whether it is a political cartoon and a front page article, or a classified page and an editorial. If you have any questions on how to do it or what is enough, ask me. Each group will be presenting their newspapers to the class. Also, each group must turn in a 2 page, double spaced summary of their findings. This helps students organize their ideas in an alternative genre and also assesses their ability to make connections between literature and the real world.
c. Turn in journals.