Science Fiction Triple Feature
Lesson 4 of 5
Objective: SWBAT select and read a science fiction story from a short list of options; SWBAT identify the plot elements in the story; SWBAT work cooperatively to prepare productions for their classmates.
When students came into the classroom, I announced that they would have a selection of three different short stories frome which to choose. Then, I gave them a brief introduction to each story, indicating that one dealt with the possibility of aliens among us; one was an early dystopian story (like so many that they like to read); and the final (and most challenging one, since it is the longest) related to the concept of time travel and something like the grandfather paradox.
We talked about ideas related to the grandfather paradox, and the conversation went to "Back to the Future." About six of my students had seen it, so they clued everyone in on the basic premises.
After I introduced the stories, I let the students pick. They settled down and read their selected stories. I thought they would finish at very different times, but they all finished within about five minutes of each other. (This, I believe, was influenced by my comment that "A Sound of Thunder" was longer and more challenging.)
Comic Strip Plot Maps
After they read, the students created comic strips that incorporated the elements of plot: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. This should be review for students at this point, but the activity served two purposes:
1. The students should recognize that many science fiction stories do not follow the "classic" bell curve plot structure. Oftentimes, the stories come to an end with the climax, or they have a climax and a quick resolution.
2. The comic strips will help students to identify key plot points to dramatize in their performances, which is the next activity. Putting the events in writing forces kids to decide the importance of given events.
The students in the "Harrison Bergeron" group struggled with the climax, as did the "A Sound of Thunder" group (to a lesser extent.) They are not connecting the climax to the conflict as much as they should, so I traveled around the room and talked to individuals and small groups, as needed.
Groups Prepare Performances
After they finished their comic strips, I had the students join others who read the same story to prepare performances.
Without being too prescriptive, I told students that their performances should portray the stories to the students who had not read them. While I suggested that they use a combination of acting and narration, I did not require it.
The classroom was pretty noisy, but the students were working. I did split "Future Tense" into two groups, because twelve students had read that story and the group was too big.