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Dystopia Text Set

In: English and Literature

Submitted By utegg84
Words 5178
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Text Set Introduction

Jeff Utegg

After reading The Giver and The Hunger Games, we were set out on the task to find a common theme. In an ideal situation, teachers would be able to embellish on these young adult books by supporting them with supplemental sources. Through the use of newspaper articles, magazines, picture books, videos, trailers and clips, and electronics our tenth grade English class will explore and discover the theme; dystopia paired with defiance. Dystopia literally means “ bad uptopia”. According to the Merriam­Webster dictionary, dystopia is defined as “an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives”. Unlike utopia, where a society is perceived to be a perfect place to reside, dystopia differs in that what is “perfect” often causes an undesirable place to live. Having students be able to understand these complex themes in addition to the “on the surface” themes that exist within this young adult literature would ensure a deeper meaning/understanding of the text for them. In addition, being able to present the idea to students in a multitude of facets helps to differentiate learning for students. Also, students are able to gain a better understanding of what dystopia really means when they see it being used in multiple different contexts. This particular English 10 class is a co­taught class of twenty­five including six students with disabilities. There are two students with autism, three with multiple disorders and one student with hearing impairment. By using varying kinds of texts, teachers can provide different modalities of learning for all students, especially those with disabilities. Regardless of if a student is classified with a disability, all students learn differently. Being able to meet students’ needs by providing tactile learners a way to

touch, visual learners a way to see and auditory learners a way to hear is key/hugely important. Our students will be using the following text set sources to obtain a deeper understanding of a dytopian society. The goal is that, by providing more than one perspective for students, each student will walk away from our dystopia unit with a clear understanding of what it is. References Collins, S. (2008). The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press. The Hunger Games, written by Suzan Collins is a novel written for young adults. North America has been destroyed and is now run by the powerful Capital and is divided into 12 districts (district 13 has been destroyed due to a rebellion). Katniss Everdeen, is a 16 year old girl, who hunts, gathers and trades to provide food for her family. To keep the 12 districts aware of who runs the county, the Capital arranges a game to the death each year in an elaborate arena. Each district holds a drawing of one boy and one girl to go as tributes. When her sister is picked, Katniss exercises her option to volunteer for the games. Along with Katniss comes the town baker’s son Peeta, who grew up with her. Katniss and Peeta must fend for themselves against natural elements, the Gamemakers and the other contestants whose only option is to kill or be killed. By the end of this novel, students should have a comfortable handle on what dystopian governments should look like. In the novel, ancient and futuristic concepts about freedom and government are used side by side. The residents of District 12 are enslaved in a very depressed government controlled state through force, sanctions, electric fences, and hardship. Whereas the people of the Capitol have a very opposite type of life: their obsession with appearance, bizarre make­up, and

cheering on the deaths of fellow countrymen. The citizens of the Capitol appear free when compared to District 12, but they too are trapped, and prevented from flourishing as humans. The Hunger Games is 810 Lexile and is recommended for 7th grade, but some some of the deeper concepts are targeted for an older age. This concept should allow for students to compare the novel to past and current types of government. In small groups, students should be able to have a discussion on past governments that are comparable to the novel and know what has happened to them as an outcome. They should also be able to connect the novel to present­day governments, and with the knowledge of what has happened in the past make a safe prediction on what could happen to the existing governments discussed. Frank, A., & Doubleday, B. M. (1972). Anne Frank: the diary of a young girl. New York: Washington Square Press. The Diary of a Young Girl or otherwise known as The Diary of Anne Frank is collection of writings kept by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family. Anne Frank was in hiding during the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. The diary discusses the hardships her family went through, her feelings of being in hiding, and also her family connections. In 1944, her family was betrayed and resulted in their deportation to the Nazi concentration camps. Anne died while being held captive from typhus about two weeks before the camps were liberated by British troops. The diary was originally written in Dutch and was translated into English. This book could be used to connect to students lives, culture and similar interests. Students could read The Diary of a Young Girl in their English class and/or their Foreign Language class, such as German. This book could be used as a discussion about the Holocaust. While reading the diary posts, students could write

in their own diary and discuss how certain sections made them feel. That discussion could lead into the theme of this text set, dystopia. Students could explain how Anne’s life before going into hiding could be seen as a utopia and how the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler ended up becoming a dystopia. They would then be able to distinguish between the two definitions. Grazer, B. (Producer), & Howard, R. (Director). (2001). A beautiful mind. [DVD]. United States: Universal Studio. A Beautiful Mind, produced by Brain Grazer and directed by Ron Howard, is a movie based on a true story about John Nash (played by Russell Crowe), a brilliant mathematician. The film is rated PG­13, making it suitable for a high school classroom. At the start of the film, Nash is a graduate students at Princeton and, after much hard work, is eventually able to publish one of his unique ideas. This opens the opportunity for Nash to work at MIT as a professor, which is where he meets his wife. In the midst of his work, John is pursued by the government for the task of cracking a foreign encrypted telecommunication. John is able to easily crack the code and, thus, begins working for the United States Department of Defense. This aspect of the movie is likely to engage students who take a particular interest in math. So much of the math that students learn is riddles and logic problems. Therefore, being able to relate to Nash breaking the encrypted telecommunication would engage students who enjoy working with numbers. Nash views this as his utopia. He is able to work his brain to its full potential, which ultimately earns him a more rewarding job. For a significant portion of the film, Nash never stops to consider that the very thing that earned him his utopia could also be the thing to turn it into a dystopia. Nash begins to believe that he is being followed by Soviet agents and becomes paranoid. He lives in constant fear and

puts his family friends in danger trying to flee from the Soviets. Nash is informed that he has schizophrenia and that three people that often visit him are not real, but rather are a figment of his imagination. None of it was real. After much hard work and support from his loved ones, Nash is able to ignore his hallucinations and return to the teaching profession. To help students as they watch the film, or clips from the film, they can answer guided viewing questions to keep their attention focused on the theme at large. For example, students could answer questions such as, “How is John Nash’s mind an asset?”, “How is John Nash’s mind a hindrance?”, “What emotions was John going through when he was told that he was having hallucinations?”. (2011). Human dystopia ­ YouTube. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1BQPV­iCkU. Wall­E is a Disney computer­animated movie tale about a robot who travels to the deepest extent of outer space in search of a new­found friend. The year is 2700, and planet Earth has been uninhabitable for ages. For hundreds of years, WALL­E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth­Class) has been taking out the trash, and collecting knick­knacks in order to stave off the boredom of his dreary routine. Little does WALL­E realize that he has recently stumbled onto a secret that could save planet Earth, and once again make the ravaged planet safe for all humankind. A scene from the movie has WALL­E placed on a spaceship where millions of humans are living in a lazy­mans dream world. As you watch the movie you can observe all of the humans rely on their machines instead of each other. In the film, the whole human race has abandoned its home out of sheer laziness and wanders the cosmos in complete oblivion of the harsh but wonderful life it could be living on earth. This scene can then be used in class as a discussion. Using the teaching strategy “Think,

Pair, Share” students can pair up into groups of two and discuss how this scene relates to two different novels already read in class. Class discussions should support the relationship of the novels and the dystopian scene presented in the movie. (2011). In Time Movie Trailer 2011 Justin Timberlake ­ YouTube. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efNzhEKm3w4. In Time is a movie that is set in the future where people stop aging at the age of 25. Once a person hits 25, they are then only given one year left of time to live. This time is recorded on their arm. They can gain time by working. But the time is also used for every day activities. The more time one has, the wealthier that person is seen to be and the longer they will live. This movie trailer could be used as an anticipatory set in the beginning or end of a unit. The teacher could have students describe what they thought was happening and how it might be used in their English class. The teacher could also have students connect this short film to the concept being discussed in class, dystopia. Students would have to describe why they felt this film represents a dystopia or why they do not think it does. Students would have to support their response by using evidence from the movie clip and other sources they have been used. Jiang, J. (1999). Red scarf girl. New York: HarperCollins World Red Scarf Girl, is a memoir written by Ji­li Jiang, about her experiences during the Cultural Revolution of China. The book's foreword is written by David Henry Hwang. Ji­li was at the top of her class and the Student Council President, of her school. However, her father prevents her from auditioning for the Central Liberation Army Arts Academy due to her poor class status, which she had

no knowledge of at the time. Her family is considered a "Black Family", because her grandfather was a landlord and her father was considered a "rightist", (though her father reassured her that he is not). Ji­li must deal with the difficult choice between her educational and political future or her family. This book describes her experiences with the Cultural Revolution, including being betrayed by her closest friends, helping to destroy the Four Olds, attempting to become a Red Guard and the constant terror of arrest. Though, towards the end, Jiang Ji­li realizes that her goals no longer define her but rather her responsibilities. The Lexile level is 780 and is recommended for 11 year olds. By reading Red Scarf Girl you can experience the Cultural Revolution through eyes of a 12 year old girl whose family has been marked as a "black" and not red. There are times in life when it is OK to fight for what you believe in, and to tell your government when something is wrong or unjust. Using a graphic organizer students can come up with other events that may fall in this category and compare their similarities and differences. Lowry, L. (1993). The Giver. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. The Giver is written from the point of view of an eleven year old boy, Jonas. He is living in a futuristic world where the government has eliminated all emotions, choice, and war. Everyone is extremely polite and is punished when they are not. Everyone’s lives are planned and organized for them from birth to choosing their jobs and future partner. Their world is supposed to promote equality and fairness. However, in reality, it is very oppressive. After students read The Giver, they would be able to take away that the government has ultimately taken away all human rights. The people that live there have no idea because that is what they are used to. But no one is happy. Students would realize that this was ultimately meant to be a

utopia, where everyone was happy, but in reality, by taking away everyone’s rights and emotions, their city has evolved into a dystopian state of mind. Before students began reading the book, the teacher would hand them a sheet of paper with an assortment of words from The Giver. The teacher would ask students to use those words to write a story based on what they think is going to happen within the book. Students have to use all of the words given by the teacher within their story at least once. When finished with the book, students will look back at their story and realize their original thought, based off of certain words, were wrong, or not. (2013). North Korea's Internet? What Internet? For most, online access doesn’t exist. Retrieved April 17, 2013, from http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/technolog/north­koreas­internet­what­internet­most­online­access ­doesnt­exist­1C9143426. This article, written by Suzanne Choney, is a description of the seclusion North Korean citizens

are subject to. Many in the country do not have access to Internet, despite the fact that the United Nations suggested that “Internet should be considered a basic human right”. The North Korean government prevents Internet access on computers, tablets and celluar phones, even for foreign guests. When it comes to television and radio, they are pre­programmed to government stations. North Koreans have no say in what they have access to. Visitors to the country have described people on the boarder of North Korea and China who are able to smuggle in media. Other than that North Koreans are on their own and some warn that they will fall significantly behind without access to the Internet. This article provides an opportunity for students to investigate current events and multiple

perspectives. The dystopia that exists within this situation may not be obvious to students without them doing a little bit of research first. This article provides the perfect opportunity for students to use a KWL chart. They can first complete the column about what they already know regarding the Internet and/or North Korea. Then, based on this article, students can formulate questions about what they would like to know, what they want to investigate more. Given that North Korea is in the news regularly, students would then be presented with a source of Internet, believe it, or not! Completing research would also be beneficial for students because this article has a lexile of 1270, making it quite challenging on its own. With a little bit of guidance, students should be able to recognize that, by the North Korean government “protecting” their citizens from the Internet and access to the rest of the world, they are, in turn, creating a dystopia. (2011). Prohibition: Watch Videos | PBS. Retrieved April 17, 2013, from http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/watch­video/. “Prohibition”, a three­episode series of videos, by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, highlights the

key aspects of what caused the prohibition, what drove bootleggers and corruption that plagued the prohibition. This film is best suited for older children and adults because of both the complexity of the topic being discussed and the corruption and sex described at times. In the first clip of the first episode, Burns and Novick really set the stage for the prohibition. Americans, who saw alcohol as a way of life, had always made beer a regular part of their every day life. However, when whiskey was introduced, Americans’ habits continued despite the higher alcohol content in whiskey. Americans were drinking upwards of three times as much alcohol as Americans consume today. American men loved alcohol, but the affect it had on their families was devastating. Men were unable to keep their jobs to support and feed their family and when the men came home after a night of drinking there were instances of

marital rape. It was these unhealthy habits that prompted the prohibition. Prior to even exploring the prohibition students can analyze the differences between the utopia men lived in and the dystopia women lived in, which might in turn bring a greater sense of understanding about the affect that the prohibition had on men and women. Still more other clips from “Prohibition” reveal the corruption that ensued after the start of the

prohibition. Man’s attempt at a healthy new way of life actually caused a series of unintended, negative consequences. Women became more risque as men grew more corrupt. Smuggling alcohol created criminals and unlawful government officials. Restaurants and entertainment failed and the government could not collect enough taxes without the sale of alcohol. It would be beneficial for students to complete a t­chart as they watch “Prohibition”, keeping

track of good intentions that were behind the prohibition on one side of the chart and the negative effects it actually had on society on the other side of the chart. As a whole group, the class could then analyze this man made dystopia. Sendak, M. (1963). Where the wild things are. New York: Harper & Row. Where the Wild Things Are, is a children’s picture book written in 1963, by Maurice Sendak. The plot of the book is based on fantasy and real life consequences of a little boy, Max. After causing trouble by dressing up as a wolf, Max is disciplined by being sent to his room without dinner. While in his room, Max’s imagination takes control of his room and transforms his room into an ocean and jungle. Max travels to a land full of “wild things” where they make him their king. He has fun, but then realizes he wants to be where someone loves him the most. He awakens from his fantasy because he

smells dinner. Max leaves all of the “wild things” and finds his dinner waiting for him. The lexile level of Where the Wild Things Are is 740. It is suggested for children between the ages of four to eight (as suggested from Amazon).. Since this is a children's book, the reason for using this book would be used to get students prior knowledge working. High school students would be able to connect to “monsters” chasing a child and how that would make a child feel. Dystopia is a world where people are afraid. As a young child, even though it is his own imagination, can feel alone and scared of where they are. The illustrations are dark and thus would also present the themes of being scared. Our students would be able to connect to this thought and theme within this book. While reading the book, we would have students draw a picture of something that makes them happy. We would then have them draw a second picture that is their first picture “gone wrong”. Students would be able to compare and contrast between these two scenarios. They would also be able to relate it back to the book and also to the theme. Steig, W., & Thomas, P. (1969). Sylvester and the magic pebble. New York: Simon and Schuster/Parachute Press. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, written by William Steig, is a children’s picture book about a young donkey, Sylvester, who loves to collect pebbles. One day he comes upon a round, red marble­looking pebble that fascinates him. Sylvester was thrilled to find out that with a simple wish and the magic pebble in his palm, the pebble could grant him anything he wanted. How exciting! He could not wait to share the good news. However, when a lion catches Sylvester off guard, he wishes to be a rock to avoid danger, but loses possession of his pebble and cannot wish himself back into donkey form. The pebble that had once been a blessing became Sylvester’s enemy. Sylvester is

forced to wait and wish and hope that someday he will be turned back into a donkey and be reunited with his parents. Prior to reading the story, students can be given time to brainstorm events or object that were created or used for good, but have the power or possibility of creating bad. For example, a gun can be used to self­defense and hunting for food. On the other hand, guns can be used to kill other human beings. As students read Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, they will be able to understand that although the pebble can be helpful, it is powerful and can create a bad situation just as easily. This story would be a good way to present the link between utopia and dystopia for students as they explore other forms of dystopia and defiance throughout our unit. This story book has a lexile of 700 and is a suggested reading for children ages six to nine. This is especially helpful for presenting the theme to students who might struggle with grade level texts. Not only are the words easier to comprehend, but there are visuals as well. Steig does a good job making it clear to the reader that Sylvester, very much so, perceives the pebble to be a good thing. The pebble grants him very wish he makes, creating the perfect utopia for Sylvester. However, when Sylvester acts without thinking the pebble turns him into a dehumanized form: a rock. Sylvester waited in fear and sorrow, wondering if he would ever be his donkey self again. He learned that the pebble could easily create a dystopia for him if he did not respect it’s powers. (2012). The Dust Bowl | Watch Online | PBS Video. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from http://video.pbs.org/video/2219206510 The Dust Bowl is considered to be one of the worst man­made ecological disasters in American

History. This short PBS clip is a preview of a Ken Burns video on the Dust Bowl. The preview shows

the emotions of the people that came to the Great Plains in search of a new beginning before the dust bowl began. They said “they had the best crop they had ever had, and it seemed like things were looking up”. The video shows the rain stopping and the wind coming in.. They thought the end of the world was coming. A lot of people stuck it out, in the hopes that next year would be better. In the actual video, Ken Burns describes the disaster and what it took to get themselves out. The Dust Bowl is discussed and analyze in history classes. Students would have to understand

that before the Dust Bowl, the people thought they lived in the best place to make money. This was their utopia, everything was looking up and going according to plan. But then the earth rebelled and their whole lives were turned upside down. People were scared to leave their houses and thought the whole world was going to end. Students would be able to describe through a free write or a warmup, why their lives and environment changed from a utopian state to a dystopian state. They could also discuss if they could have prevented it and if the United States have learned from this disaster. Triniti Interactive Limited. (2013). TinyLegends ­ Crazy Knight (Version 2.7) [Mobile application software]. On the continent of Kromdor, monsters are awakening from under the earth. The “Evernight” is coming and the monsters will bring chaos and ruins to the land if they are not stopped. Throughout the game, it is up to the player, the role of the knight, to save the land from the evil that threatens it. The fantasy aspect of the game is intriguing for children, however, the violence makes the game best suited for people ages nine and up. Therefore, the game would be appropriate for a high school student and would likely capture their attention as well. After being provided with the definition of “dystopia” students could play the game and then jot

down moments when they experienced or noticed dystopia while playing. Being that the game takes place in a fictitious land where the main character has to battle monsters to protect his fearful citizens, there are multiple opportunities for students to make connections to dystopia. Students could then partner up to engage in “think­pair­share”, explaining and comparing their thoughts and then sharing with another pair. It is likely that different students experienced dystopia in different ways while playing, which will make the discussions more dynamic. (2011). Uganda Weighs Costs of DDT in Insecticide's Return ­ NYTimes.com. Retrieved April 17, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/19/world/africa/19uganda.html?pagewanted=all. DDT, otherwise known as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, was used in Europe and Africa during the 1950’s to 1970’s to kill mosquitoes. Malaria kills millions of people in a year in Africa. Many of these victims are children. No medication has been developed yet so countries are going back to using DDT. In 1950 when it was used, it was said to harm and poison human health. It was never proven, but it was banned anyway. After reading the article, students would understand the harm that DDT, the pesticide, caused for many countries. DDT was sprayed and used hoping to kill mosquitoes that carry malaria. DDT did in fact kill and help prevent malaria, but it also killed humans as well. In 1972, the United States banned the use of DDT due to its environmental impact. Students should be able to understand the impact that DDT had on people. Students that have taken or are in Biology, Chemistry or physics, would be able to relate the DDT pesticide to their classroom. Teachers would be able to have a conversation about this pesticide and other pesticides that are being used every day. In biology, they could talk about what pesticides do

to plants and animals. In Chemistry, they could talk about the chemical formation of this drug and why it works and kills mosquitoes and also why the U.S. government would ban it. During the conversation in Chemistry, they could also talk about bonds and what elements were used to make this pesticide because it was man­made. Teachers could have students pre­write what they think DDT stands for and where they think it would be used. After the discussion, students could then reflect on their previous thought and keep it, change it, or alter it based on their discussion and understanding from class. Magazine/Journal: Johnson, M., (2012). Resilient, Resourceful, and Under Surveillance: Young Canadians Online. Our School/Our Selves, 151­153. This magazine article is about Canadian teenagers and their use of the Internet. Teens and their parents are questioning how much monitoring of Internet activity should be allowed and when is it appropriate for parents to intervene. With parents always trying to watch their child's where about online, kids are feeling smothered and are looking for a place to go and escape and feel free. The heavy surveillance that the kids are subjected to is almost certainly counterproductive. Not only does it drive them into finding better ways to hide, it deprives them of the authentic learning that can only happen when they are supported with trust, communication and guidance. This article can lead to a great class discussion about their own personal feelings on this subject. Since this is a relevant question to what is going on in the lives of teenagers today, students should be able to express if they feel this is a dystopic issue. Smith, N., (2012). So Much Soda!. Scholastic News, Edition 4, 3­5. Retrieved from

www.scholastic.com/sn4 This article talks about how the city of New York is taking obesity matters into their own hands. With the rate of obesity sky rocketing without a stop in sight, New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg is pushing to put a ban on all sugary drinks over the size of 16 ounces. Many question if this is fair. NYC is taking away the right of a citizen to choose what ever size drink he wants. The question is, is the city of New York going to far? Do they have the right to tell others that they can not enjoy a sugary drink over the size of 16 ounces? This is a great warm­up discussion on small ways government tries to control its citizens. Do they agree with the city or its upset civilians? Students can then try and argue for or against the question “Is this the beginning of a dystopian society?” Goal Sheet In completing this text set, we hope our students can find understanding in the theme and recognize it as it has been woven throughout different texts. Students should be able to recognize that dystopia takes from in many ways and in many places, much like other themes. They should also be able to differentiate between utopia and dystopia, while recognizing the close link between them. The hope is that students might recognize that school, specifically the content taught through this text set, is applicable to real world scenarios. We see this theme throughout the popular young adult literatures, news, entertainment, games, etc. By presenting dystopia in a multitude of ways, we hope to make the concept of dystopia accessible to all learners. Within our text set we address visual learners, auditory learners, textile learners and also engage their interest through drawing and hands on activities. After the completion of this text set, we want students to walk away wondering the following:

does everyone live in a dystopian state of mind at some point throughout their life?

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