Science Fiction Lesson Plans
Students can explore a literature genre through science fiction lesson plans.
By Dawn Dodson
When I begin teaching students about science fiction, I start by asking the following question -What are the differences between Natalie Babbitt's "Tuck Everlasting" and Lois Lowry's "The Giver"? The responses are always interesting, and few address genre. My students often view fantasy, and science fiction as one in the same. They can easily identify elements of fantasy, but often struggle to do the same for science fiction.
How do I help students differentiate between the two genres? By providing students with opportunities to read, think about, write, and discuss science fiction. Two successful strategies I use are literature circles and independent projects. There are many different methods in which to operate literature circles. You can assign each group a different novel within the same genre or theme, or you could have the whole class read the same novel. Literature circles are a good way to get students to think critically, and to discuss the themes and elements present within a novel.
In my own classroom, I might divide students into groups of four or five, and assign both independent, and group work to be completed at the literature circle meeting. Independent work has included journal entries, comprehension questions ( teacher and student created), vocabulary, and an independent book project that is created by the teacher and student working collaboratively. Group assignments can include a "Question from Your Teacher", responding to student-created questions, and discussing an element, theme, or event that is pertinent to the novel or genre. In my class, each member has a discussion guide that is completed and turned in at the conclusion of the meeting. In addition to the discussion guide, each student is individually responsible for writing a letter to the teacher summarizing the events of the meeting. The success of literature circles depends on whether students attending the meetings are prepared to discuss the novel, and share information. Discussion guides and independent assignments can be designed to help students recognize and focus on the elements of science fiction.
In addition to literature circles, independent book projects can be an effective way to help students think more critically about a novel. When teaching science fiction, I assign projects that involve creating a science fiction world (through diorama, board game, or a student-created story), or designing an invention that could be used in the future. The lesson plans below also provide opportunities for students to think critically about science fiction. By providing opportunities for students to take a closer look at science fiction, they can explore this unique form of fiction. Not sure where to begin? The following link provides a great list of science fiction novels that can lead to interesting classroom investigations, or enjoyable summer reading.
Science Fiction Lesson Plans:
Mission Possible: This lesson provides a great way for students to learn about the science fiction genre by creating their own futuristic inventions. Students study real world themes and events in order to create an invention. After the invention has been created, students write a movie-style dialogue telling about their inventions.
Bringing Facts Into Science Fiction: This lesson has students write their own science fiction stories based on current events. Student's' stories include a setting, plot, and characters that tell a science fiction story based on current events. What a great way for students to apply their knowledge of science fiction elements!
Prize-Winning Prose: Students develop criteria in order to evaluate a selected text to win a "Kid Pulitzer." After students study the history of the Pulitzer prize, students make their own awards based on class novels. The class can vote on the overall winner after each student has presented his/her award winning book. This lesson is a great way to end any literature study.
Let's Get Critical: This lesson provides an activity for use after reading a novel. Students study published book reviews, and then write their own review to share with a classmate. Students focus on characters, setting, and plot to form their reviews. The goal of this lesson is to encourage a classmate to read the reviewed book.
Role Play Debate: Students learn to debate issues and themes within a novel. This lesson can be ongoing throughout the study of a novel. Students are first introduced to debating by studying the Lincoln-Douglas debate format. Students then assume the roles of the debate stakeholders, and debate selected issues. Peers are able to evaluate the performance of the debators at the conclusion of the debate.