Lesson One: Interactive Environments: “The Veldt” vs. The VOID (Phase One)
Do Now: Novum
Students will write down the definition of novum in their notebooks (a fictional piece of technology that is scientifically plausible). Provide example (a flying car) and counterexample (a cloak of invisibility). Students will create and share their own examples and counterexamples, explaining why each is or is not a novum.
Activity 1: “The Veldt”
Students will read the short story by Ray Bradbury (with audio support if desired). As they read, they will underline or highlight examples of novum they find in the text.
Activity 2: Response to “The Veldt”
Students will choose one of the examples of novum mentioned in the story. On a graphic organizer, they will identify possible benefits and drawbacks of the technology described, and explain their reasoning: why might these benefits and drawbacks arise as a result of the novum?
Activity 3: Extrapolation / The VOID
Students will watch the short promotional video for The VOID, a virtual reality entertainment center. The teacher should point out that “The Veldt” was published in 1950, and the technology it predicted is close to reality now. Students will then write to extrapolate and imagine how video games or virtual reality might look 50 years from now.
Lesson Two: “Simulacrum” (Phase One)
Do Now: Free Write
In their journals, students will respond to the prompt: how many pictures of you exist in other people’s photo libraries? Should you be able to choose whether (and how long) someone else can keep a picture of you? Why or why not?
Activity 1: “Simulacrum”
Students will read Ken Liu’s short story (with optional audio support). As they read, students will complete a dialectical journal organizer to interact with the text.
Activity 2: Response to “Simulacrum”
Students will respond to the prompt: was Paul Larimore wrong to keep the simulacrum of his daughter? Why or why not? How would you feel if someone kept an AI hologram of you? Students will then return to their free write from the beginning of class and reassess their perspective. Do you still agree with what you wrote? Why or why not?
Activity 3: Novum Product Review
Students will choose a novum that we have encountered in one of the texts we have read so far and begin assessing its possible advantages and disadvantages. How would a manufacturer advertise this product? Today’s brainstorming will form the basis of the culminating activity for the first phase of the unit.
Lesson Three: Justice and Sacrifice (Phase Two)
Do Now: The Trolley Dilemma
Students will respond to the prompt: is it right to sacrifice one person to save the lives of others? Why or why not? Student responses here can initiate conversation to examine the fairness and possible usefulness of sacrifice, which will provide a basis for today’s readings.
Activity 1: Forced Debate
Students must pick a side of the room that corresponds to their answer to the Do Now question. When sides have been established, each student will summarize his or her reasoning on a Post-It note. Groups will compile and organize their Post-It responses and use these to identify coherent points for a debate. After a few minutes of preparation time, each side will present its argument and reasoning, electing a representative to write bullet points on the board. After both sides have presented their initial arguments, groups will have a few minutes to construct rebuttals to their opponents.
Activity 2: “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
Students will read Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story (with optional audio support). As they read, they will interact with the text using dialectical journal organizers.
Activity 3: Response to “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
In their journals, students will respond to the story. What point does the story make about justice? How would the people of Omelas define this word (those who stay and those who leave)? Do you agree with one side or the other? Do you still agree with your statements from today’s debate? Why or why not? When students have finished their response, they should begin reading N.K. Jemisin’s “The Ones Who Stay and Fight.”