Target Audience: 12th grade AP class
Placement within the Overall Lesson/Unit: This is the beginning of a unit focusing on Utopian texts. Throughout this unit we will be reading 1984 and The Giver. We will be discussing the social aspects of these texts. We will make connections to these novels by viewing parts of The Matrix and The Truman Show. We will ask the students to question their views of “the perfect world” and analyze whether that is even possible at all. We will discuss the textualization of the novels, focusing on how the author’s surroundings/environment affects their view of what a Utopia can be. The “big questions” we will be continuously asking are “What is the particular Utopia, in reference to the text?”, “Why are these specific Utopias chosen?”, “How would you go about creating a Utopia?”, “What conflicts would occur in a Utopia?”.
Objective: During this lesson, students will…
1) Learn what a Utopia is.
2) Construct and defend their own versions of a Utopia.
3) Recognize with problems that would occur in defining a Utopia.
Materials: We will be using the overhead.
Introduction: When the students enter the class, we will have a question on the overhead asking them to free-write about what they think is the definition of a Utopia in their journals. We will have a discussion of what they think the word means. After the discussion, we will tell them the first dictionary definition (An ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects). If the students are still struggling with what they think a Utopia is, we will explain to the students that we will help them understand by viewing an example of a Utopia.
Transition- Introduce the song “Imagine”, by John Lennon. For the purposes of our lesson, we will be viewing this song as John Lennon’s personal Utopia. We will give the students a context of the time period in which the song was written.
Activity 1- Listen to the song and have the students think about what the different factors are that exist in his Utopia. We will look at the song by stanza and discuss the words chosen and the implications that co-exist with them.
Transition- After the students discuss what John Lennon’s Utopia is, present the other definition of Utopia and see how they connect that to their views on the song. (An impractical, idealistic scheme for social and political reform.) Then we will instruct the students that they will be looking at the process of forming a Utopia. We will then present an overhead with the aspects that they should consider while making their Utopia.
Activity 2- While students are writing their Utopias, we will also write our versions, as well.
Transition- Ask students to move to a circle so we can discuss each other’s versions of a Utopia.
Activity 3- Ask students to volunteer to present their Utopias. Discuss why they chose each aspect that they included. Discuss the positive and negative points. Critically think about the assumptions they made while forming their “perfect world”.
Conclusion- “Now that we have looked at one author’s view of a Utopia and your own views, we will be using these ideas to view other texts. Our first novel will be George Orwell’s 1984. As you read this novel, we want you to remember what we discussed today and think on your own about these issues.”
Christie McGraw, Kelley Youmans, Mike Doupé, Allyson Stanley
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