Frankenstein, Star Wars, and the Industrial Revolution

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This isn’t exactly using comic books in the classroom, but still incorporating pop culture to get students to engage and write.

Reading begets reading and writing begets writing – in every class, not just Language Arts.

I like beginning with current events to introduce an historical topic and why it matters today.  As such, the students completed research and presented on child labor in the world today.  When my 15 year olds really get an idea of what is going on to others of their age group around the world, it begins them out of their comfort zone a bit.  Now that I had them hooked, we researched on the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and compared the labor then and now.  As the all-important “so what” of the lesson – we began to discuss how changing technology can lead to both irrational and rational fears – I discussed the fears of putting a microwave oven into a home, etc.

The students were then given an excerpt from Frankenstein and told to complete the story – they were given complete freedom to finish it in any way – funny, scary, gory, etc.  They were also asked to draw a visual from their written scene.  The excerpt is below…

  • “I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch – the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his opened eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulated sounds while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand stretched out, seemingly to detain me.”
  • What is the name of this famous book? Take a guess…
  • Now you finish the story….

The following day, the students were instructed to pair/share their stories – something which I really did not need to instruct them to do.  The students simply could not wait to share what they had drawn and written.  The classroom was abuzz with laughter, chatter, and even squeals of mock horror and being grossed-out.  The students were then asked to either share their or their partners stories and/or drawings.  I was thoroughly impressed by the creativity of the students and I read and commented on their stories.

The students were also given a copy of a cartoon depicting 6 technological changes – there job, in groups, was to figure out what was going on in each one and then to summarize the overall message.  Again – we fear what we do not understand.  This was a great lesson in using textual evidence from a cartoon – giving specific examples to back up their opinion.  How do you know is works for the church?  How do you know that it is Columbus or Magellan, etc. (see powerpoint)

 

The next question then, was – why did I give this activity?  We discussed the background of Mary Shelly and how her story helps us to understand how people can react to the world changing around them.  Machines, factories, changing family structure, etc — of course, this also led us to discuss The Terminator movies as well.

My favorite part of the lesson was that students were able to shine with different strengths – we have some great storytellers and writers – but also some astounding artists.  While focusing on skills, content, and the common core, we still need to create lessons that engage all types of learners as well.

I then began to present the powerpoint presentation as we delved into Star Wars and cloning – students were asked to answer the following questions, then to pair/share at their tables.

  1. Do you think scientists should be allowed to clone human 
beings? Explain.
  2. Do clones have souls? Can they go to Heaven? Explain
  3. Should two clones be allowed to have children? Explain
  4. How would “original” humans treat these cloned humans?
  5. If the technology were available, should a pregnant mother 
and/or father be allowed to alter a fetus – eye color, gender, 
height, heart defect, etc? Explain.

This conversation had the students buzzing with comments and defending their opinions as we discussed as a whole class.  we talked about how sports would be affected, how original humans (us) would be the lower class if #5 were possible, how the wealthy might be the only ones who could afford #5, and, of course, making perfect soldiers as in the Clone Wars.

We did not finish where I wanted as it was difficult to stop the students from discussing and questioning – a teachable moment that I was not going to stop.  We will finish today.

The link for my powerpoint and video clips – https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0q0hv_n2-9xa0J1RUpPUi1lNVU/view?usp=sharing

Here are some great examples of writing and drawing – my favorite is Dr. Frankenstein being take down by a militarized PETA as he mistreated the “animal”.

 

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