Teaching The Giver can be a lot of fun, but it is essential to get your students hooked on the novel within the first class or two. Do that, and you can focus on guiding them towards the outcomes you want them to reach. Fail to get them engaged from the start and you will be battling their boredom for the entire unit.
When I teach The Giver, I like to start with an Anticipation Guide, which usually leads to some vigorous discussions. If you can get your kids to argue with each other about the fundamental issues in the novel, you’ve got them.
I give my students a handout with several strong statements related to themes in The Giver. I have a nice printable for this in my unit plan, but you can always just write the statements on the board and have your kids answer in their notebooks.
Here are a few of the statements I use:
- Peace is more important than individual rights.
- People should always obey the rules and laws of their society.
- There is no such thing as a perfect society.
- Safety is more important than fun.
Students have to circle “strongly agree,” “agree,” “disagree,” or “strongly disagree.” Then they provide a brief explanation for their position.
It’s important that they support their positions with specific reasons.
Once everyone has finished, we discuss each statement as a class. There are always some strong opinions, and it usually only takes a minute or two for the discussion to take off.
This activity introduces important themes in The Giver, gets the kids thinking, and encourages them to engage with each other.
After that, I usually start reading the novel aloud to the class. I know they are too old for story time, but they still love being read to, and it often gets those reluctant readers rolling.
How do you start your unit for The Giver?