Banned/Challenged Books

bb7I came across this lesson plan after we finished discussing their summer reading of Fahrenheit 451. Perfect!

ReadWriteThink’s “Censorship in the Classroom: Understanding Controversial Issues” lesson plan

I would like to preface this page by stating that my student teacher actually taught and many of the details. Some of these are her ideas, some mine, and I will write what I would have done at some places. I really want to replicate much of this lesson, though! 🙂

Day 1: SSR; Students discuss (access prior knowledge) about stereotyping (a reasonably common reason for banning/challenging). *I do not think I would intro this way again. In fact, I might jump in to conversation about censorship. Could use this article about current internet censorship in China, for example. Would be ideal to incorporate discussion of the 1st Amendment at this time.

bb6Since this is the beginning of the year, I think this is a good opportunity for introducing reading for purpose. I think the “House” highlighting for purpose activity from Cris Tovani’s book, I Read it but I Don’t Get it. This way students may begin to read with purposes according to both lit circle role and according to the teacher-provided guidelines.

Book talk over our three options. Send letter home explaining activity and justification to parents, which also explained that students needed to obtain these books. I’m assuming that strategy would not work for a public school so this is trickier. I would have preferred to offer at least 4 book options as we did this in lit circles.

Day 2: SSR; First lit circle meeting – should be prepared to discuss author’s purpose. Also, tone and style. Students should write about their insights and reflections from lit circle and reading task in their Writer’s Notebook.

bb5Introduce unit vocabulary (next time will try to create more thematic list!) and explain denotative and connotative. Have students work on creating vocab cards that have denotative, connotative, and visual representation (may stay in lit circle groups for this).

Students should understand that we will be focusing on characters for next lit circle and be annotating, writing questions that correspond.

Day 3:SSR; Model webbing based on F451. Second lit circle meeting – should create character web. Begin analyzing characters. Be prepared to expand on these as students continue reading.

Introduce 7 strategies of propaganda. Students will go around the room jotting down which (teacher posted) advertisements contain which propaganda techniques. Students should be aware that the culminating project of this unit is to create an advertising campaign (which should contain at least 2 of thesetechniques) for their books and why they should or should not be banned.      bb4(Projects will be displayed in the hall of the school during Banned Books Week.)

Students will write in their Writer’s Notebooks about the different advertisements and recall which strategies they thought were most effective.

Day 4: SSR; Third lit circle meeting – consider audience. Who is the author trying to reach? How does it effect his or her writing style?

Discuss the power of word choice. Introduce assignment:

Students choose controversial topic and begin drafting an editorial stating their opinion. (Opinion based, no citations necessary unless using quotes.) Paper must be typed and brought to class for next class.

Writer’s Notebook: Clarify that students should consider audience and word choices. Who are you trying to reach? Is it more important that the language be easily read or that you establish yourself as a credible, educated resource? Where would your editorial be published?

bb3Day 5: Vocabulary quiz; computer lab to post editorial on Ning. Students should also write a blog post reflecting on how they made their choices based on the entry in their Writer’s Notebook from Day 4 re: word choice and audience.

Day 6:SSR; Introduce new vocab words. Fourth lit circle meeting – revisit characterizations and character web. How have they changed or are they static characters? Have your allegiances been altered as you continued reading? What connections can you make to the text and the characters?

Writer’s Notebook: reflect on lit circle insights.

Introduce definition of THEME. Read The Lorax (a banned/challenged book itself!) and review plot structure vocabulary. Students offer their perspectives; should be bb2easy to find some plausible themes in this jam packed book! 🙂 For homework, students should read with purpose of deciphering potential themes in the text. Be prepared to discuss.

Day 7: SSR; Vocabulary activity (game). Fifth lit circle meeting – share perspectives on theme of book. Writer’s Notebook: reflect on themes/lit circles.

Officially assign propaganda projects. Students work in pairs (no more than 3 members to a group) with peers who read the same lit circle book. They begin brainstorming and working on their projects. Basic art supplies provided but students are encouraged to bring in “extras” for the project (which will include prizes and potentially an extra credit opportunity). They should understand that it is a “campaign” that should be multifaceted rather than just a poster.

It is also not merely an advertisement for the book but for the usefulness of reading it and why it should not be banned. This should help reinforce the power of word choices, as these projects should not be overly wordy.

BB1Day 8: SSR; Sixth lit circle meeting – how do you think the book will end? Why? Is it the ending you would like to see?

Writer’s Notebook: write a brief alternate ending. Be prepared to share. You may write what you want to see happen, or how you think the author is going to end it.

Propaganda project work time.

Day 9: SSR; Seventh and FINAL lit circle meeting – reflect on characters, theme, author’s intention. Look over your writer’s notebook entries and consider what you were correct about, how your interpretations may have changed, how characters may have changed and how you feel about the end of your novel.

LAST chance to work on propaganda projects!

Day 10: SSR; Gallery walk and student “judging” to see who wins! Do not exclude the effectiveness of the propaganda techniques employed.

Day 11: Test over unit.


*Discussion questions:

*A Banned Book wiki project via @rcurrin


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