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The Giver

 

Introduction:  
  Lois Lowry wrote a novel about a community that seems to function perfectly. The Giver describes a perfect society. What makes this community flawless? How has it managed to keep things organized and under perfect control? It seems that man has finally found the ideal way to live until one member of the community starts to uncover flaws. What went wrong?
You have been assigned by the elders of the community to investigate why Jonas, a promising young man chose to leave the community. What made this gifted individual, chosen to be the next Giver rebel against the norms? What went wrong? What flaws did he reveal about this seemingly perfect community?
Task:  
  1. What do you see as the positive and negative aspects of the Community Jonas lives in?
2. Why do you think members of this society must do volunteer work while they are young? Do you think this is a good or idea or a bad idea? Defend your answer.
3. Why do you agree or disagree that people should learn history, and learn about the past.
4. Is it possible to have a world where everyone is equal, but everyone is not the same, a world without any pain would be a bad thing?
- The Team will investigate and uncover why Jonas left the community. They will list the reasons for his leaving and recommend alternatives so this will never happen again. The results of the investigation will be presented in a written report. The committee will create a journal where they will keep track of all the information they disclose from observations and interviews. The information will be added to the appendix of the final report. The team will collaborate, write their final report, and present it to the elders for review. Once approved, the findings will be presented in the main auditorium using audio and visual effects. The committees' final written reports and presentations will include suggestions on how to improve the life style of the community so that it becomes a perfect society once again. Both written and presentations will be done in a convincing way so that they capture the attention of the whole community. The presentations can be done by creating a team blog, a website, a PowerPoint presentation, a video film, by creating music and lyrics, a play, or composing a dance.
You will look at different countries and cultures and learn how they compare with the one you live in. You will also be required to dig into your own past and that of your family to see where you have come from. The past is rich with information, knowledge, and memories! What do you think the world would be like if you had no knowledge of the past? The Giver describes a community in which every person and his or her experience is precisely the same. The climate is controlled, and competition has been eliminated in favor of a community in which everyone works only for the common good. In small groups discuss the following question and prepare your answers for whole class discussion.
There are groups in the United States today that actively seek to maintain an identity outside the mainstream culture: the Amish, the Mennonites, Native American tribes, and the Hasidic Jewish community. What benefits do these groups expect from defining themselves as "other"? What are the disadvantages? How does the mainstream culture put pressure on such groups?
After finding the answers for these questions, you will report your findings to the whole group and listen to each other opinion about your views of a perfect society.
Process:  
 

Step One: What is a Utopia?

Use the following websites to research the concept of "Utopia." The second website has lots of detailed information on Utopia. Decide which parts are relevant to your project.

Definition of Utopia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utopia

Utopian Philosophy: How to Achieve it; Merging Reality and Utopia; and Views of What Utopia May Be Like
http://users.erols.com/jonwill/
Step Two: Use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast two of your choice.

The Acorn Community of Virginia
http://www.ic.org/acorn/

The Farm in Tennessee
http://www.thefarm.org/index.html

Twin Oaks Community in Virginia
http://www.twinoaks.org/

Victory City: A City Under One Roof
http://www.victorycities.com/

- Below are some of the guided questions that will help you accomplish your mission.
Discussion Questions:
To what extent might we agree upon a utopia?
What would we have to give up in order to live in peace?
Can we ignore pain in order to live happier lives?
Who decides what is best for the community?
In what ways do our differences makes us distinctly human?
What are some similarities of Jonas's community to ours? What are some differences?
What advantages might "sameness" yield for contemporary communities?
Is the loss of diversity worthwhile?
Step Three: Organize yourselves in teams of four. Find out about team organization and work on the following page: http://www.nelliemuller.com/Task_and_group_work.htm
Students' Role

Student 1. Reporter who shares the group's progress with others

Student 2. Secretary who takes notes of the group's progress

Student 3. Supporter who keeps the group working together and encourage team members to go on

Student 4. Contact person who asks the teacher for help, gathers, stores, and return material if necessary
Step Four: Make sure everyone on the team has read The Giver by Lois Lowry. You should refer to the story as you work on the project.
Step Five: Read the Task and divide your work among the team members. Each member will interview another member of the community and find out what happened to Jonas. This can be his parents, sister, friends, The Giver or any other member of the community you feel would offer relevant clues as to what happened.
Step Six: You may write your individual interview reports according to the following format http://www.nelliemuller.com/Theperfectsociety.committeejournal.htm or create your own questions.
Step Seven: The final product is a collaborative writing report that sums up the four interviews. The interviews are added to the appendix. The writing report consists of seven parts. http://www.nelliemuller.com/Theperfectsociety.writtenreports.htm
Step Eight: Each member will be evaluated for both team http://www.nelliemuller.com/Theperfectsociety.evaluationofthecommitteesreport.htm and individual work: http://www.nelliemuller.com/Theperfectsociety.individualreports.htm
Step Nine: Edit your written observations and the results of your interviews as a team. Check the team evaluation rubrics: http://www.nelliemuller.com/Theperfectsociety.evaluationofthecommitteesreport.htm to find out how you will be graded for team work.
Step Eleven: Plan your presentation http://www.nelliemuller.com/Oral_Presentation.htm
Step Twelve: You are encouraged to present your work in a creative way. You can use visual aids and other multimedia techniques such as video, audio or PowerPoint presentations, blogs, podcasts, websites, or a combination of one or two ideas.
Step Thirteen: Make sure that each member of the committee is ready to present one aspect of the findings. Check the team evaluation rubric for your presentation: http://www.nelliemuller.com/Theperfectsociety.presentation.htm
Step Fourteen: The grade is out of 100: 25 points for the individual work, 25 for the team presentation and 50 points for the team collaborative writing report.

Resources:  
  The Giver: Notes on the book
http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/giver/summary.html
http://www.bookrags.com/notes/giv/
Utopia: A perfect society
Utopia by Thomas Moore:
http://www.d-holliday.com/tmore/utopia.htm
Definition and other material on the subject of utopia:
http://users.erols.com/jonwill/utopialist.htm
Utopian Studies:
http://www.utoronto.ca/utopia/links.html
PowerPoint assistance:
http://www.awesomebackgrounds.com/freesample-ok.htm
http://www.meetingtomorrow.com/cms-category/powerpoint-tutorial
http://www.nelliemuller.com/Effective_presentation_1_.ppt
Journal guides:
http://www.nelliemuller.com/Theperfectsociety.committeejournal.htm
Graphics:
http://www.bellsnwhistles.com/
Acorn Community http://www.ic.org/acorn/
The Farm http://www.thefarm.org/index.html
Twin Oaks http://www.twinoaks.org/
Victory City http://www.victorycities.com/
Utopian States http://www.utopianstates.com/US1/index.html
Utopian World http://www.utopianworld.org/
Evaluation:  
  Demonstrates understanding of project 1 2 3 4 5
Demonstrates web navigating skills 1 2 3 4 5
Organization 1 2 3 4 5
Time management 1 2 3 4 5
Uses at least 4 sources 1 2 3 4 5
Includes mementos/photos for each memory 1 2 3 4 5
Shows knowledge of events described in memories 1 2 3 4 5
Can clearly explain each memories 1 2 3 4 5
Overall Appearance/Creativity 1 2 3 4 5
Conclusion:  
  Congratulations! You have completed the Web Quest! You should know more about history, other countries, and utopian societies similar to the one in Lori Lowry's The Giver.

This Web Quest is available at www.teach-nology.com