Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut: Dystopian Short Story Unit

GilTeach
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Zip (2 MB|15 pages + 10 slides)
Standards
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GilTeach
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Description

Want to inspire your classes to engage in healthy discussion and speak out against injustices?

Students are bombarded on a daily basis with the message that it’s better to go along to get along, and that conflict is scary and to be avoided. They are led to believe that their voice isn’t important, especially when fighting against forces that are more powerful than they are. Believing this message can lead to a generation of future leaders who feel powerless and hopeless and do nothing to make things better.

If you want them to go forward and change the status quo, it’s your responsibility as their teacher to give them the confidence and knowledge that they need to break free and think for themselves.

Focusing on the importance of healthy conflict and dissent, how to feel compassion and empathy for those who disagree with us, and people who are making a difference, this unit will challenge your students to think about values, differences, and dialogue in new ways.

When you help your students to expand their minds with this innovative unit they will:

  • Begin to explore their views on important topics such as free speech, comparison, and abuse of power when they write on calming and focusing freewrite prompts.

  • Examine the consequences of a society where dissent is prohibited when they analyze the classic dystopian story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut using the no-prep close reading questions.

  • Learn why it is important to listen, talk, and speak out when they watch three inspiring TED Talks that have been curated for teenage interests and understanding.

  • Practice concrete tips for engaging in constructive disagreements and listening to those with whom they don’t agree when they complete a fun survival game and a discuss their answers to a fun moral dilemmas quiz.

  • Be inspired by real-life heroes like Theo E.J. Wilson, an African American poet and activist who learned to feel compassion for those who, as he says, hated his guts, and Greta Thunberg, the unassuming teen who started the international School Strike for the Climate.

  • Learn how to speak out against injustices in their own worlds and feel confident that they have the capability do so.

Essential Questions:

  • How do we foster independent thinking in a time where taking the most extreme side is often seen as a virtue?

  • How do we inspire compassion and empathy in a culture that rewards name calling with social media likes?

  • How do we avoid the kind of atrocity that can result when individuals are afraid to speak up against the majority?

Thank you so much for teaching these essential lessons to your classes—empowering students to think for themselves is the most important job of a teacher.

Total Pages
15 pages + 10 slides
Answer Key
Included
Teaching Duration
4 days
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Standards

to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.
Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.
Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

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