From Electric English...
I realize that often times people either love or hate Ayn Rand; there rarely seems to be an in-between with this author. While I would recommend only teaching a novel if you enjoy it; I, also, realize that as teachers, we do not always get that luxury. I happen to like this novel for several reasons.... The main one being; it provides a platform to discuss so many relevant and current societal issues with our students. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Rand's treatise on capitalism, it is an awesome vehicle that takes students on their own personal journey towards a greater understanding of their country, their government, and their selves.
I want to say, right up front, that, to some, the material in this packet could be considered controversial... It is not my intention to be subversive or breed little rebels. My intention with this unit is to expose students to new ideas and educate them with factual statistics, as well as, probing questions and analysis. Then, let them take the information and decide for themselves where they stand on current social trends and issues. I really do not see, given the nature and subject of this novel, how certain ideas about philosophy and the modern world can fail to present themselves. Our goal as teachers, I feel, is to provide an unbiased platform for kids to think about new information and be able to discuss those ideas with each other and with you. Okay.... Got that out there!! LOL. Not trying to lecture you :) Just want to be clear that this is not your typical unit; it is not designed around worksheets and comprehension reading tests. Those types of activities, I find, rarely inspire enthusiasm and rarely engage pupils in higher levels of thinking.
So all that being said, this is a comprehensive unit on "Anthem" by Ayn Rand. The whole crux of this work centers around the idea of fostering discussion and gaining confidence in oral reading and speaking. I have found great success when teaching this novel to students because it makes them consider the world from another perspective, even if only briefly, and the students really enjoy being able to read and digest the novel as a class.
At the very beginning of the unit, meaning that very first day... The students are assigned their own copy of the novel and also assigned short 2-3 page sections for reading. (The length of the sections will be determined by your class size. If a few students have to read twice, some of them will not mind. And I always tell students; those individuals who are willing to take more than one section will get the option of keeping the better of the two grades for the activity.) The pages you assign them will be the pages they are responsible for reading out loud to the class. They will know their pages and the order in which they will be reading ahead of time. This is important for several reasons... First, they will be graded, with a rubric I have provided you, on their oral reading and speaking skills. This rubric contains items such as volume, pacing, tone, and word pronunciation. Second, they will be expected to flow seamlessly from one reader to the next during the process. I, typically, have students read in front of the class with another student sitting in a chair on deck ready to go, but you can always just have them read at their desks, if you prefer. Third, and most important, this gives the students a chance to prepare for the reading. So often times, students are put on the spot and asked to read out loud immediately without the benefit of any preparation time. This activity gives students a chance to really show you what they can do; gives them a chance to feel confident; gives them a chance to go over the material to ensure the best grade possible for themselves. Why is all of this important to you?? Because the whole unit and all of the other activities that supplement the reading, center around this concept. If it is not something you are interested in trying; then this unit is not for you. But if the idea does appeal to you; I guarantee an enjoyable, gratifiying learning experience for both you and your students.
"Anthem" is extremely short and, therefore, can be completed in a relatively brief period of time. There is enough material here for 3 weeks or more worth of work, if you wish to stretch it out; however, if you do not want to spend that amount of time, you can always just pick and choose the activities you want to focus on and get the novel completed in 2 weeks. It is really a matter of how much of the supplemental material you want to complete in class vs. assign as homework. I find it is always nice to have choices!
For the purposes of posting the unit, I only included the first and last standard from each category, but if you look at the lesson plans for the entire unit, you will see that a vast majority of the standards are covered over the course of all the activities. This unit contains the following:
- Complete set of detailed lesson plans for the entire unit, including the standards that are being covered (There are 12 days of lesson plans; this is because several activities are assigned as homework.)
- Notes: How To Annotate
- Notes: Annotation Student Examples
- Notes: Argumentation and Persuasion
- PreReading: Book Assignment Template (It is crucial for this unit that all students have the same copy of the text.)
- PreReading: Vocabulary Words
- PreReading: Vocabulary Instructions
- PreReading: Vocabulary Template
- PreReading: Vocabulary Assessment
- PreReading: Biography 2-Column Notes
- PreReading: Themes Activity Powerpoint (This is an awesome exercise that takes two days and gets the students moving and discussing some of the ideas they will encounter while reading.)
- PreReading: Philosophy and Objectivism Activity Powerpoint (This is an awesome powerpoint that I made on the basics of philosophy; it is crucial to understand what philosophy is, in order to understand where Rand is coming from; plus the powerpoint breaks down Rand's personal philosophy; and there is a question at the end that always generates great discussion.)
- PreReading: Chapter Questions (I usually do not collect these; they are just a reference for the students.)
- Oral Reading Sign-Up Template
- Oral Reading Rubric
- Informational Text: "Gatto - Seven Lesson School Teacher"
- Gatto Discussion Questions Powerpoint
- Informational Text: "8 Reasons Young Americans...."
- "8 Reasons Young Americans..." Discussion Questions Powerpoint w/ Charts and Graphs
- Video: Links
- Video: RSA. Changing Education Paradigms
- Video: 200 Countries, 200 Years
- Video: Goldson Valedictorian Speech
- Video: Wealth Inequality in America (You must go to the link I have provided you for this particular video. All of the rest of them are included with the packet.)
- Video: Discussion Questions Powerpoint
- Song: Mr. Roboto by The Styx (The kids love this.)
- Song: Logical Song by Supertramp (The kids love this.)
- Poem: "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley
- Images: Gaea
- Images: Prometheus
- Harkness Seminar Final Assessment: Questions
- Harkness Seminar Final Assessment: Team/Assignment Template
- Harkness Seminar Final Assessment: Instructions/Explanation
- Harkness Seminar Final Assessment: Spider Web Roles
- Harkness Seminar Final Assessment: Web Grapher Template
- Harkness Seminar Final Assessment: Feedback Giver Template
- Harkness Seminar Final Assessment: Discussion Key
- Harkness Seminar Final Assessment: Rubric
- Harkness Seminar Final Assessment: Make-Up Essays (There is no way to make this up if the student misses the seminar day, so an alternate assignment is necessary. And if and only if, students have informed you ahead of time that they cannot be there for valid reasons.)
I know this was a very detailed description and perhaps bordering on too long, but I want to be as clear as possible about this unit because it is not your run of the mill, typical work. I will say; I have never had a class of students who did not thoroughly enjoy this unit. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me, and I will help in any way that I can. Thanks :)