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Cultural Clashes! Utopia vs. Dystopia (Research & Informational Writing)

Cultural Clashes!  Utopia vs. Dystopia (Research & Informational Writing)
Cultural Clashes!  Utopia vs. Dystopia (Research & Informational Writing)
Cultural Clashes!  Utopia vs. Dystopia (Research & Informational Writing)
Cultural Clashes!  Utopia vs. Dystopia (Research & Informational Writing)
Cultural Clashes!  Utopia vs. Dystopia (Research & Informational Writing)
Cultural Clashes!  Utopia vs. Dystopia (Research & Informational Writing)
Cultural Clashes!  Utopia vs. Dystopia (Research & Informational Writing)
Cultural Clashes!  Utopia vs. Dystopia (Research & Informational Writing)
Product Description
Looking for additional ways to implement short, focused research projects into your ELA curriculum?

Cultural Clashes can be used as a stand-alone, short-term research project or as an extension of today’s modern dystopian theme present in - Lois Lowry’s The Giver, Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games, Scott Westerfield’s Uglies, James Dashner’s Maze Runner, or in many of the other popular tween and young adult lit titles!

The research-based performance task and informational writing assignment support the following: Common Core Learning Standards, Smarter Balanced Assessment Performance Tasks, and the conceptual model and thematic unit of cultural identity.

CCSS increasingly emphasizes argument and informative writing over narrative writing. Further, it emphasizes the type of argument and informative writing that is tied closely to texts and deriving its content from the texts. Logical arguments and explanations are supported with evidence from texts. Cultural Clashes provides students with the opportunity to access and analyze multiple sources and different resource types. The project culminates in students writing an informative essay using the evidence gathered from their short-term research in order to support their explanations and to further build their argument.

This packet of resources directly supports the following Common Core ELA College and Career Readiness Anchor Writing Standards:

Research to Build and Present Knowledge

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


In the reading and writing tasks, students have an opportunity to plan their responses and manage and interact with information/data gained through reading or listening to/viewing texts.

Cultural Clashes guides students through the research process and requires their close reading and interaction with multiple text types.

The final writing assignment will provide students with the opportunity to learn how to synthesize evidence and use textual support in their informational writing to support their conclusions – the same reading and writing process modeled in The Smarter Balanced Performance Tasks.

With this project, students will have access to the Culture Clash website which includes ideas for a pre-search class discussion on the definition of utopia. The site also introduces four cultures that have been routinely described as being model environments or utopian societies.

Students will choose 1 of the following cultures: The Amish, The Hutterites, The Shakers, or The Farm community.

Included in this packet are 15 Research Task Cards that will provide structure and help guide students through the research process as they learn more about their culture.

The Task Cards will help students learn to navigate information from multiple sources and will empower them with the skills needed to effectively take notes with a purpose.

The cultural resources used for research include digital online resources, videos/pictures, and informational text articles. Through the use of the questions and prompts posed in the Research Task Cards, students will engage in active inquiry-based learning, be required to closely examine and analyze the text or media, and to extract and record relevant details on their Research Task Card response sheets.


After recording their responses on the Task Card answer sheets, students will then complete an Informational Writing graphic organizer that organizes and synthesizes their research findings.

The project concludes with an informational writing prompt. Students will write an essay defining utopia while also explaining through specific, research-based evidence whether the culture reflects a utopian society or a dystopian world.


The Cultural Clashes packet includes:

Teacher Notes and Pacing Guide;

Pre-search activity comparing works of art depicting dystopia and utopia with student handout and teacher answer key;

Link to the Culture Clash Project Website;

Access to 5 Digital Resources;

2-3 Image/Video Media sources;

2 Informational Text Articles for each of the four cultural groups:

The Amish, The Hutterites, The Shakers, and The Farm

15 Research Task Cards w/Research Prompts or Questions to Answer (editable);

Differentiated templates for the Research Task Card Response Sheets;

Citation Guide with examples and Source Citation Student Handouts;

Informational Writing Graphic Organizer Handout and an Informational Essay Prompt (2 for differentiation);

Teacher Grading Rubric.


Cultural Clashes not only provides students with extended learning on the popular dystopian young adult theme, it also meets the short, focused research requirement outlined in Common Core Standards.

With this project, your students will also model the Smarter Balanced Assessment Performance Task process of close textual reading, synthesis of textual evidence, and utilizing this evidence effectively in their informational writing.

*Includes 2016 update to replace broken website links.




Interested in purchasing additional thematic-based research projects?

Check out the following!

I've Got the Power! Power and Self Identity Research Project

And They All Fall Down. The Rise and Fall of the Modern Day Hero





Keywords: Dystopia, Utopia, The Giver, The Shakers, The Farm, The Hutterites, The Amish
Total Pages
40 pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
4 days
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