Students had time at home and in class to read "Mars is Heaven." Warning: The story is long, so it presents some difficulty for readers at and below grade level. You can do the activities and just swap out the movie for the text; however, I think it is much more interesting and effective to work with both.
I really like using the "one question quiz" to determine who has read the selection and who has not. Often, eighth graders do not finish reading longer selections because they lose interest or want closure. I get it, but they need to develop stamina and realize that teachers expect them to read whatever is assigned, regardless of length.
So here were my one-question quizzes for today (I have to do two different ones, since there is a lunch period between my two classes. My first class is very generous about sharing information with my second class, thus the two versions.)
1. Why is the story called "Mars is Heaven?"
2. Discuss the irony of the title.
Yes, you and I both know that the questions are basically the same. However, they are different enough for my students. Throw in the word "irony" and it becomes a whole different quiz.
Here is the video "Mars in Heaven":
Yesterday, which was the first day of our science fiction unit, the student read "Rain, Rain, Go Away" by Isaac Asimov. As an exit ticket, I asked the students to 1. decide if the story was, indeed, "science fiction; and 2. identify the theme.
They had a very hard time with #2. So, I created a Powerpoint called "Science Fiction...or Not?" and we discussed the examples and non-examples at length.