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How I use short films in my dystopian unit + free lesson resource


I'm teaching The Giver as my dystopian novel this year and I absolutely love it for so many reasons: it's short, interesting, explores real world issues, and is highly explicit in it's dystopian features. I taught City of Ember before and I also loved it, but The Giver just has my heart.


We've just spent a few weeks exploring the features of utopia versus dystopia, in which the students invented a utopian world that is perfect in terms of environment, customs, laws, politics, and citizens. They made a travel brochure to convey the information and to persuade a reader to come visit their society. Some great ones are below (there were others but they had their names on them so I can't show them here).

So, now that they have a grip on what makes a utopia, we're going to get into what makes a dystopia! The first thing I'm going to do is show them two short films: "2187" and the appropriate parts of "Hyper-Reality".


I find that "2187" is a great place to start because it is really short and explores some really key tenets of dystopia, including suppression of individuality, use of propaganda, and excessive government control. It also explores symbols really nicely so it's great for looking at the symbols of freedom versus oppression. If you want to get your own FREE copy of my lesson plan for "2187", scroll down and fill in your email address so that I can send it straight to your inbox!


After 2187, I show them "Hyper-Reality" which always gets them SO EXCITED. They are always abuzz about the possibilities of the future and think that the tech-savvy world of Juliana is amazing until some cracks begin to show. "Hyper-Reality" works really well for showing how easily utopian worlds can descend into dystopia which allows us to explore how overuse of technology has negative impacts on our lives. In this lesson, I also get them to do a creative advertising task where they create a technological advertisement which they love.


A really cute student example of the creative advertising task from Hyper-Reality that focuses on excessive use of technology.

Next, we study the book. I'll save that for a separate blog post, but you can access the unit bundle here.

Throughout the novel study, we also watch the short film "The Luckiest" which helps to teach tone. This is perfect for mid unit when the students are itching for something different but still need to develop their analysis and writing skills. This lesson looks at the tone conveyed by the filmmaker and how that tone is conveyed through language and symbolism. The lesson ends with a paragraph writing task which works well in the middle of the unit when we are vamping up to essay writing.


To conclude the unit, I finish with "The Last Job on Earth" where we explore workforce automation and I have my students imagine what jobs will exist in 2030. The work on creative writing here, using adjective-rich language in a unique and fun writing task.


I really love using these four short films to supplement my teaching of the dystopian genre and if you'd like to get your own FREE copy of the "2187" lesson plan, enter your email below and I'll send it straight to you. If you really love it, you can also go to my TPT store to get your hands on the entire set of short film lessons. Click here or the image below to get to my store.





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