Outside Reading And Literature Circle Assignment English Language Essay

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Students will choose one novel from a list provided and work with others who have chosen the same novel (groups of 4). In all cases except The Giver, students will be provided with books. I am including a brief synopsis of each novel to enable wise decision making in choosing which novel to read. The novels are of varying length; however, one should remember that length is not always relevant to understanding and/or enjoyment. The novels are also varied in plot structure and characterization, as well as the way in which the topic of utopia or dystopia is developed.


The Giver, Lois Lowry

Jonas' world: No violence, no pain, no starvation--such a utopia may appear to be a paradise at a glance; however, closely investigated, it is nothing more than a collage of harsh and bitter realities of death and control under which its operation is attained. This book should open the reader's eyes to the rights people have and rights which have already been taken away. Beware the book's deceptively easy reading level!

1984, George Orwell

This novel, written in 1949, depicts a robot-like society, controlled by Big Brother, which is unable to think or act without permission. When 1984 came and went, there was a small groundswell of relief and a number of comments in the news to the effect that "it was only fiction." However, many people are still trying to alert the country to the dangers of current and future restructuring within the government and the social culture. This book details yet another "rebel" who wants to change, or at least to escape, the system.

Anthem, Ayn Rand

Published in 1938, it takes place at some unspecific future date when mankind has entered another dark age as a result of what Rand saw as the evils of irrationality and collectivism and the weakness of socialistic thinking and economics. Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur at all) and the concept of individuality has been eliminated (for example, the word "I" has disappeared from the language). As is common in her work, Rand draws a clear distinction between the "socialist/communal" values of equality and brotherhood and the "productive/capitalist" values of achievement and individuality.



1. Choose your novel and group and report it to me.

2. Decide how much you all will read at each of the following checkpoints:

Checkpoint One: September 26th ______________

Checkpoint Two: October 3rd ______________

Checkpoint Three: October 13th ____________ (Finish the book!)

3. Decide who in your group will be responsible for the following jobs for each checkpoint day:

1. Discussion Director: Come up with 5 open-ended discussion questions based upon the reading. ____________________

2. Passage Master: Locate 3 short passages from the reading that are important for everyone to notice, remember, or respond to. ____________

3. Illustrator: Create an illustration of something memorable from the reading to discuss with the group. __________________

4. Connector: Locate three situations in the novel to connect to the real world. These should evoke discussion. ________________

4. Begin the journal activities. I will take up one section at the end of each one-week period; therefore, it is important for you to stay on track with your reading and journal activities. This counts as 150 points (50 pts per entry).

5. Choose one of the follow-up activities after you have completed your novel. This counts as 50 points. Due October 17th


On the cover page of each entry include the following information: Your name, the title of your novel, the date, number of pages covered in the entry, entry #.

Note: Use these questions as a guide: I don't want you to just go down the list of questions and answer them. Consider all these things; however, as you write your entry. Each entry must be at least 250 words.

1. Entry One. Due September 26th : This entry considers the first third of the novel. Consider these questions: Why did you select this novel? What information did you need to know before reading the novel? What has happened before the novel began? How do you think this novel is going to fit the theme of utopia/dystopia? What's going on at the beginning of the story? Who's telling the story? Why that narrator instead of someone else? What is the setting (time, place, atmosphere) of the novel? Is the setting important or could the novel be happening anywhere, at any time? Explain. What is the initial problem faced by the main character? How does the author get you to read on or hold your interest? What do you think is going to happen in the second third of the novel?

2. Entry Two. Due October 3rd: This entry covers the middle third of the novel. Consider these questions: What new things are added to the original problem as the novel progresses? What plot twists or unexpected events happen as the novel progresses? Do you see the setting of your novel as a utopia or a dystopia so far? Why do you feel that? Are there any "rebels" in your novel who oppose that society? Who are they? What do they think and do? Do you think their actions will be successful? Comment on the style of the novel. Is it easy or hard to follow the events? Is the language in the novel difficult or easy? To what age group do you think the novel is best suited? Why? Is there a message or main theme emerging in the book? How is it shown? Describe any new characters that have been introduced since Entry One. What is their purpose? What predictions, if any, can you make as to the outcome of the novel at this point? Do you see any similarities between our society and the society in your novel? Explain.

3. Entry Three. Due October 13th: This entry covers the final third of the novel. Consider these questions? What is the climax of the novel? How are the major and minor conflicts resolved? What were the major things which helped to resolve the plot? What message did you get from the novel? How was this message conveyed? How realistic is the novel? Could that society exist? Now that you have completed the novel, how does it relate to utopia/dystopia? Why would you (or why wouldn't you) recommend this novel to a friend or another student?

Dystopian Novel Outside Reading Final Project

Directions: Choose one of the following options for your final project. Projects will be graded on effort, creativity, how well you demonstrate your understanding of the novel, and how well you complete all facets of whichever option you choose. There are several options available. Variations on any of these options must be pre-approved. You will be required to present your project to the class at the end of the unit. All projects should be mechanically sound and indicate a high degree of effort. This project will be heavily weighted in your average and should reflect thought and work over a period of time, not just something thrown together last minute.

The Soundtrack: Make a eight song CD for the movie version of your novel. This could be during the time period of the novel or in the present. Your notes will ultimately be the parts of an essay in which you explain why you are including each of the songs on the mix. For each song or musical piece, provide a copy of the lyrics; then, each song should have a paragraph of in-depth analysis/explication/description which explains its connection to the novel, using literary evidence such as: themes, symbols, motifs, and situations that a character and the novel explored. You should use TEXT BASED EVIDENCE (AKA quotes from the novel!) Requirements: 8 songs (artist/song title) on CD, at least a paragraph explanation for each, use of lyrics to explain rationale, cover for CD. You pick and choose which elements of the music to connect to the novel. Be artistic! Presentation is just as important as content.

The "Scrapbook": Compile a scrapbook of memorabilia that a character might have collected or come across during the novel. All artifacts must be captioned with where he got it, its significance to him, and the page you found it on. Think of the images that keep recurring in the novel, the places to which a character travels, and anything s/he collects. This project will be assessed based on the amount of memorabilia collected and its presentation. As a benchmark, expect to get at least eight pieces of memorabilia for your scrapbook. Each item should have at least a paragraph explaining its significance. You should use TEXT BASED EVIDENCE (AKA quotes from the novel!) to support your items: you will demonstrate where it was found and then explain the significance.

Your Novel: The Motion Picture: Choose a scene/montage of significant event/s in your novel and turn it/them into screenplay. [You might also turn the entire novel into a short film, serious or humorous.] You should use TEXT BASED EVIDENCE (AKA quotes from the novel!). Requirements: a 6 page script that follows movie script format including setting, camera shots, and cast descriptions (who you want to play who), typed. You may video tape the scene/s or act them out in class. It does not have to be memorized, but be sure that your performance reflects extensive preparation.