Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ender's Game Activities

The internet is buzzing with news of an upcoming adaptation of the beloved sci-fi/young adult classic, Ender's Game.  Since the 1980's, readers have relished the story of how a gifted, young strategist faced many challenges while trying to save the world from the threat of an alien invasion, and save himself from many dangers at the brutal, military space academy that's training him to become a leader.  While the movie is in the beginning stages of the filmmaking process, your students can read and enjoy the novel now.  Here are a few activities you can give your students for an independent study, or a classroom unit on Ender's Game:

  • Here is a pretty thorough lesson plan revolving around the novel.  It includes objectives, comprehension questions by chapter, assessment projects, and a complete schedule and grading rubric for all activities. 
  • This is a guide put together by starscapebooks.  It contains rich, thoughtful discussion questions, and good writing and research activities for themes presented in the book.
  • Tiffany Stoddard created an anticipation guide for the book.  I enjoy this activity, and it's pretty simple if you want to make your own.  Basically, you take themes from the novel, create broad "agree/disagree" statements related to those themes (the more controversial or extreme, the better), and have students line up or arrange themselves around the room based on how they feel about the statement.  It's always good to have students revisit their initial thoughts about the statements after they've read the book.  After reading, how might their thoughts change about the statement that "destroying a species is never right"?
  • Here is a list of activities organized by Bloom's taxonomy.
  • Create biographical poems (biopoems) for the characters.
  • Have students create a book trailer on video, a Glogster poster for themes in the book, or a MyFakeWall page for the characters.

Analyze Characters with MyFakeWall.com

If you want a creative assessment tool and way to integrate technology, visit MyFakeWall.com.  If your students are avid Facebook users, they may enjoy creating imaginary Facebook pages for historical figures, book characters, and anyone else you want them to study.

If he had Facebook, who would Ben Franklin have listed as his friends?  What would Elizabeth I's timeline look like?  

These are the types of questions that can really spark your students' creativity.  Show them some examples and let them create profiles, updates, and friends lists of whomever they are studying.

For a printable alternative, try some of the TeachersPayTeachers accounts that offer free Facebook page activities.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Students Will Love "Peculiar Children"

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope the school year has been a good one for you.  I'm back with a book review for a great story I enjoyed over the break.  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a delightful read, particularly for students who enjoy the fantastic and the creepy.  Miss Peregrine finds an intriguing balance between the two, and uses visual art to create a truly original experience for readers.

The story is tense, suspenseful, and emotional.  The author masterfully manipulates concepts of past and present, reality and illusion, splendor and horror, intricately weaving them all until they are indistinguishable in a lovely tapestry that makes the book hard to put down.  I highly recommend it, and I think it would be an ideal read-aloud for middle-grade classrooms.

If you're interested, rather than describe the plot for you, allow me to lead you to the author's excellent book trailer that convinced me to pick up the book.  The photos shown within it actually appear in the book!  Show the trailer to students and see if it gets them interested in reading this novel.  You could also pique their interest to read it by informing them that Tim Burton is in talks to direct the upcoming adaptation.  Check it out the trailer (not related to the film, which is still in the beginning stages):