Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Banned Books Week Lesson

Despite the fact that I'm studying to teach history, I decided to teach a lesson on Banned Books Week.  I had this wonderful opportunity to do this since I am in a classroom that is an American history/American literature hybrid class.

To introduce students to the lesson, I showed them this video that I made:

This video is a little personalized since it shows some photos of my actual students, but feel free to use it if it can work for you as well.  After showing students the video, we discussed why parents and various organizations might want to ban books.  They talked about how books might be inappropriate, have language, deal with sexual or racist issues, etc.

Once I got students interested and excited about the lesson, I divided them into groups of four.  Each group had to select one of the books from this preapproved list (I gave them a list to make sure the books they were choosing were appropriate).  They were going to write a letter to an organization that tries to ban books persuading them not to ban the book they picked.  Each group was given this packet.  The packet clearly outlined that each person in the group had a role and had to research one aspect of the letter.  There are four parts: the book, the author, the historical significance, why the book shouldn't be banned.  The students got to pick their own roles and had to discuss it with their peers in their group.  To help students along, I provided them with this sample letter I wrote about George Orwell's Animal Farm.  The purpose of this was to show students what exactly they were supposed to produce.

After writing their letters, I had students print out a copy, each member sign it, and then turn it in to me.  Right now, I am in the process of preparing these letters to be mailed out to various organizations.  The goal is to teach students how to reach out to people and organizations they disagree with and politely explain why.  As soon as I hear back from some of these organizations, I will be sure to share it.  Good luck!

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