We live in an ever changing world, but we don’t often stop to consider both the positive and negative effects of those changes. We can use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to connect with hundreds or thousands of ‘friends’ each day, but who else can see our pictures? What are they learning about us, and how can they use that information? We can access a world of information and entertainment within our homes, but obesity is hitting epidemic levels. We now have to run commercials to encourage kids to go out and play. Science and medicine are allowing us to cure and create in ways never possible before, but who decides how far to go and how to regulate these advancements?
This course will be a literature based looked at both the positive and negative aspects of technological advances. Students will read short stories and novels from a range of time periods that have questioned whether the cost of innovation outweighed the gains and warned of possible problems to come. The class will engage in online discussion, research, group presentations, both formal and creative writing, and other assessments.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (purchase required)
excerpts from 1984 by George Orwell
excerpts from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
A Feeling of Power and other short stories by Isaac Asimov
The Veldt and other short stories by Ray Bradbury
The Birthmark and other short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut
Students will create their own account on the course website. Through this website students will be able to communicate with the instructor and fellow classmates. Reading assignments and discussion questions will be posted daily. Students will be expected to log in and participate in the class discussion each day.
Students will write analytical essays as well as one short story that incorporates the positive and negative impacts of an upcoming technological innovation that they have researched with their group.
Major Collaborative Project
Students will work together to present both the positive and negative aspects of an upcoming technological innovation. Each aspect will be presented in a 3-5 minute power point presentation. The group will also write a 3-5 page short story that embodies their view of the technology.
This course will provide high ability learners with opportunities to develop advanced critical thinking and 21st century skills by:
- using interactive, web-based technology to seek, exchange, and respond to ideas
- collaborating with other high ability learners from throughout the Archdiocese
- questioning, researching, and forming well-supported opinions on technological advances
- listening to, evaluating, and discussing the ideas of other students and the instructor
- connecting their readings and research to their community, the global community and their Catholic beliefs
- using writing and speaking skills to effectively communicate their opinions and their supports
- creating stories that both entertain and educate their readers on contemporary issues
- using technology to organize and display knowledge in ways that others can view, use, and critique
The course will run for nine weeks and is designed to replace one class period of each school day. Students may be excused from their language arts/reading class to work independently in a library or resource room setting with Internet access to complete weekly tasks, such as responding to classmates comments or assignments online, completing research, writing, and reading.
Students will meet face-to-face with each other and the teacher for three half-day workshops. During the workshops, students will engage in some of the following:
- unite with other high ability students
- unite with the high school instructor facilitating the class
- become familiar with the online classroom
- collaborate with group members on shared projects and ideas
- present final projects in a presentation format
Expected Course Calendar
Week One: Information and Independence
“Harrison Bergeron” and Vonnegut’s view of equality
Excerpts from 1984
“Watching You: How much government surveillance should Americans accept to keep the nation safe from more terrorist attacks?”
Week Two: Self-Reliance
“The Feeling of Power”
Begin Fahrenheit 451
Week Three: Warnings and Prophecies
Continue Fahrenheit 451
Interview with Ray Bradbury
Week Four: Impact of Bradbury
Finish Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury analysis assigned
Rough draft of analysis due
Week Five: Movies vs. Text
Final draft of Bradbury analysis due
View Fahrenheit 451
Movies reshaping history and literature
Week Six: Science, Nature, and God
Scientific breakthroughs of the past five years
Week Seven: Creation, Power, and Responsibility
Begin Frankenstein excerpts
Assign group project
Week Eight: Defining Monsters
Continue Frankenstein excerpts
How far is too far?
Continue research and writing for final presentations
How to write dialogue
Week Nine: Present Final Projects
Power point presentations and short stories due
Students will be identified by participating schools and enrolled based on ability, space, and discretion. The teacher is not directly responsible for participant identification.