Speculative fiction can open doorways to possible worlds that are far more advanced than our own. However, such advancements are often at the expense of individuals or groups of people. This unit seeks to connect speculative fiction and social justice by first giving students an overview of each, and then by intertwining them in a project-based learning experience. By the end of the unit, students will have collaboratively used digital technology to create a product that addresses an issue of social justice and that makes students active, productive members of their communities.
Education should challenge students to engage with the world around them in meaningful ways, and it should expand their knowledge of and experience with things they take for granted. If teachers can introduce to students ways to reap the potential benefits of smartphones, social media, and other technologies available to them, students will recognize their own capabilities as participants and active citizens in their societies.
I am an English teacher at Engineering and Science University Magnet School, which includes students from grades 6-12. As the name of the school indicates, ESUMS places a heavy emphasis on students’ work in STEM subjects, which occasionally seems separate from their studies in the humanities. One of the principal goals of this unit, therefore, is to integrate my school’s focus on technology with contemporary social issues that are central to an English classroom. Additionally, in an effort to further unite humanities and science, this unit provides opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration with teachers in technology and history departments. Teachers may choose to coordinate with colleagues in these departments during the project-based learning portion of the unit.