Dystopia Novel Study

This week has been one of the best weeks I have had with my fifth graders so far!  We just started our dystopian novel study, and I have been amazed at the level of interest and thinking my students have shown.  

I love love love books that take place in dystopian societies.  These books are challenging, complex, and make you question the world you currently live in.  I use to hate to read because it was extremely difficult for me.  Finally, my sixth grade teacher introduced me to The Giver by Lois Lowry, and I fell in love with literature.   I figured since this is a topic I am interested in, my students might get a kick out of it too!

To start our study, I presented my class with a list of “new” rules that would take effect immediately.  Let’s just say they were not thrilled with the new direction of our class 🙂

The rules included:

  1. You are no longer allowed to talk or communication with anyone unless given permission by me.
  2. You can not discuss your past or family with anyone for any reason.
  3. You are being placed into three groups: high, medium, and low and cannot converse with anyone that is not in your group.
  4. During class, you must stay in your seat at all times.

I then had them journal about their feels about the new rules, reasons why rules like these would be implemented, and how these rules affected their rights and freedoms.  At this point I could tell how upset they were (some kiddos looked like they were going to cry), so I finally told them that they didn’t need to worry because these are the types of rules that you might see in a dystopian society.  I don’t think I heard a greater sigh of relief ever in my life as I did at that moment.   

Before students are able to choose their dystopian books on Friday, they are learning about the 6 characteristics of dystopias and identifying these characteristics in a short story.   Each day I have had at least ten kids stay after to talk to me about the lesson and other dystopian books they have read.  It has been so much fun!   I am thrilled that I found a topic that my GATE students universally love!  

What a great way to start a new unit!


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