Guest blogger Charity Kinneer, a high school reading and literature teacher for the Cherokee County School District, shares how to introduce the mega-popular Hunger Games series into the classroom.
The widely anticipated Hunger Games movie hits theaters March 23rd.
There hasn’t been this much hype since the Twilight saga and Harry
Potter. I personally feel that The Hunger Games has the potential to
surpass both by leaps and bounds. Never before has there been a book so
intriguing and all-consuming for my students. That is quite the
accomplishment considering I teach high school students who struggle to
read anything, much less a novel.
I had heard from a countless number of people that The Hunger Games
was an amazing read but I’ll admit I was skeptical. I put off reading
it until this past Thanksgiving. When I started, I couldn’t quit! I
devoured all three novels in less than a week and KNEW that I needed to
introduce Katniss and Peeta to my reading class.
I searched high and low for a pre-made lesson plan because let’s face
it, why invent the wheel when it spins just fine already? I found an
awesome lesson plan on teacherspayteachers.com. The author, Tracee Orman, put together a plethora of information on all things Hunger Games.
When I first popped my unit cd into my disk drive, I was completely
overwhelmed. Thank goodness she very nicely organized everything into
folders for teachers, students and tests/quizzes. The cd and the amount
of time Ms. Orman put into organizing, researching and fact checking
was well worth the $26 dollar cost of obtaining the materials.
Not every novel has a unit or lesson plan already nicely prepared and
packaged for you, all ready just for you to simply print and teach.
In those cases, there are a few steps that you can take to ensure that
you are thoroughly meeting the needs of your students through the
teaching of a novel.
1.) First, pick out your novel! It sounds pretty
elementary but you’d be surprised how hard this step can truly be. You
must find a novel that is universally appealing to your students. In
our reality TV crazed nation, The Hunger Games was the perfect
combination of reality and fantasy. My students could relate to many of
the themes in the novel and because of this, the novel was meaningful
2.) If you haven’t already read the novel, DO IT NOW! How do you know what questions will guide your instruction if you don’t know what actually happens in the novel?
3.) Developing guiding questions should be your third objective.
One of the great things that Tracee Orman does in her Hunger Games unit
is she allows for students to write their own guiding questions
throughout the reading of the novel. The students have the opportunity
to write many of their own assessment questions. Ms. Orman even
demonstrates how this should be done.Before teaching the novel, you as
the teacher should already have identified important vocabulary and
anticipatory questions for each chapter.
4.) Next, incorporate other engaging material into your novel unit.
The exciting thing again about The Hunger Games is that soon there will
be a movie to compare to the novel! In the meantime my students have
been able to see glimpses into the making of The Hunger Games by
watching trailers and walking through the various websites dedicated to
the book. Not every novel is as lucky to have such a strong media
spotlight. If the book you are reading to your class does not have
readily accessible media attached to it, you can create your own by
researching the various novels themes. For example, maybe one of your
themes involves choices or forming our own identities through our
choices. You may decide to show a video about a student campaigning for
the right to choose the lunch selections at their school or maybe allow
your class to read an article about the age in which we first begin to
exert our own independence.
However you decide to teach your novel and whatever novel you choose,
the most important step is to create interest and excitement. If you
are not enthusiastic about your subject, why will your students be?
When I first started teaching The Hunger Games to my students I prefaced
my entire instruction by giving them this disclaimer: “Yes, we all
know what a nerd I am and how much I absolutely LOVE to read. BUT, let
me tell you about this new series that I found and how everybody who is
anybody is snatching it off the shelves just as fast as they are being
printed.” I wasn’t lying AND I subjected a bit of peer pressure into
the equation. Let me tell you, it totally worked! Remember, these were
students that previously abhorred anything paper-bound and suddenly
they were begging to stay behind in my class after the bell had sounded
signaling class change!
By choosing to teach a novel that generated such engagement for
myself and my students, I was able to motivate non-readers to become
bookworms! I encourage any adult to try some of the methods that I have
described to foster an enjoyable reading experience for their
struggling student. You will be amazed at the results!
Charity Kinneer lives in northern Cherokee County with her
husband Seth who is an area pastor, her oldest son Caleb who possibly
reads more than his mommy and her youngest son Elijah who loves all
things Mickey. She is currently a high school reading and literature
teacher for the Cherokee County School District.