Dystopian Novel Portfolio
Over the next two months, you will be studying one of five dystopian novels. There
will be ten assignments accompanying this unit. You must complete each
assignment in rough by the due date. Before the end of the unit, you will choose
your five best assignments and complete good copies (at least three must be writing
assignments). You will compile your good copies and rough copies in a creative
way and submit them together on the final due date. This project will be used in
determining your reading, writing, art and media marks, this term.
1 – Setting Description due Monday January 23rd
2 – Character Sketch due Monday January 30th
3 – Newspaper Article due Tuesday February 7th
4 – Comic due Tuesday February 21st
5 – Movie Poster due Tuesday February 28th
6 – Comparison due Monday March 5th
7 – Quotes Discussion due Monday March 26th
8 – Essay due Tuesday April 10th
9 – Sequel Tuesday April 24th
10 – Your Choice Monday April 30th
15% for each good copy
10% for rough copies
10% for class participation
5% for presentation
Welcome to the Future (Setting Description)
As we discussed at the beginning of the unit, the setting in a dystopic novel is very
important. For this assignment, write a friendly e-mail to a friend. Imagine that you
have just arrived in the setting of your novel (District 12, Uglyville, The Village etc).
Provide your friend with a detailed description, including your first thoughts and
impressions. This description can be based on the limited information you have,
after reading the first couple of chapters. You may choose to use photos and
illustrations to accompany your e-mail. Your e-mail should be at least a page long.
Nice to Meet You (Character Sketch)
You should now have read beyond the first two chapters of your novel, and you are
beginning to get a better sense of the novel’s protagonist. Write a four paragraph
description of your novel’s main character (Katniss, Jonas, Tally, Luke or Mary).
- one paragraph about their physical appearance
- one about their situation (family, home, education, friends etc)
- one about their personality, skills, talents and weaknesses
- one final paragraph describing your thoughts and feelings about the
Include a drawing or photo of your character. (Do not use movie stills from an
existing or upcoming movie).
What’s Happening? (Newspaper Article)
You are now about a third of the way through reading your novel. The action is
now heating up, and some major events have taken place. Imagine you work for
a newspaper in your novel. Choose one major event and write a news article
describing it (eg. the fire alarm in New Pretty Town, the Reaping, the rally to
support third children). Use all the conventions of a news article that we studied
in class. Your good copy should look like a newspaper article
The Action (Comic)
Following our lesson on story structure, the climax of your novel should be clear
to you. Using Comic Life, or hand drawings, create a comic depicting the climax
of your novel. You may use staged photos, drawings or other media to create the
Most of the novels being studied in this unit are being made into a movie or are
being considered for film adaptations. Based on our conversation in class, create
a movie poster for our novel. Do not use graphics or cast photos from existing
movies. Come up with your own cast and draw or use your computer to create
an original poster.
Each group is studying a different dystopic novel. As a class, we have also looked
at or talked about various dystopias in movies, television, comics and other
novels. With Ms Elliott’s approval, choose one other dystopia that you are
familiar with (you have seen the movie, read the book etc). Fill in the table and
Venn diagram below. Then write a two paragraph response explaining which of
the two you would chose to live in. Remember to always support your answer
with proof from the novel, your life and the world at large.
Your Novel: Other dystopia:
Reason for the change in
society (ex. The Famine,
People in authority
Most important rules
Quotes for Reflection
Read each of these quotes carefully. Choose one that you will write about. Your
response should be three paragraphs long.
For each chosen quote:
1. Explain the context. What is going on at this point? Who is talking in this
quote and who/what are they talking about?
2. Explain the importance. Why is this quote important and worth talking
about? What makes this quote important to understanding the theme(s) or
setting of the novel?
3. Explain your feelings. How does this make you feel and why?
“… each such error reflected negatively on his parents’ guidance and infringed on the
community’s sense of order and success.” –Chapter 6
“life here is so orderly, so predicatable – so painless. It’s what they’ve chosen.” –Chapter 13
“… you used a very generalized word [love], so meaningless that it’s become almost
obsolete.” Chapter 16
The Hunger Games
"They're already taking my future! They can't have the things that mattered to me in the past.” –
“Destroying things is much easier than making them.” –Chapter 16
"All I can think is how unjust the whole thing is, the Hunger Games. Why am I hopping around
like some trained dog trying to please people I hate?" pg 142
“…if he dies, I’ll never go home, not really. I’ll spend the rest of my life in this arena trying to
think my way out.” – Chapter 24
Among the Hidden
"He had never disobeyed the order to hide. Even as a toddler, barely able to walk in the
backyard's tall grass, he had somehow understood the fear in his mother's voice." – Page 1
“It’s not easy the life you’ve got to live. I know you’d like to look outside. You’d like to go
outside.” - Page 18
“Free,” Jen said. “It’s ‘free’.” - Page 88
The Forest of Hands and Teeth
"Who are we if not the stories we pass down? What happens when there's no one left to tell
those stories? To hear them? Who will ever know that I existed?”
"It's not about surviving. It should be about love.”
“We are our own memory-keepers and we have failed ourselves. It is like that game we played in
school as children. Sitting in a circle, one student whispers a phrase into another student’s ear
and the phrase is passed around until the last student in the circle repeats what she hears, only
to find out it is nothing like what it is supposed to be. That is our life now.”
“What you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful.”
"Maybe they didn't want you to realize that every civilization has its weakness. There's always
one thing we depend on. And if someone takes it away all that's left is some story in a history
“I can’t imagine anything worse than being required to have fun.”
Your Opinion, Please (Essay)
Now that you have finished (or almost finished) reading your novel, I want your
thoughts on one of the major issues presented in your novel. Using the essay
template, and everything we learnt in class about writing an essay, write a 1 to 2
page essay addressing one of the following questions:
1. Why are dystopian novels so popular with tweens and teens? What about
these stories makes you want to read them?
2. Is your novel worth studying in class? Why or why not?
1. Would you rather live in Sameness or Difference? Is the sacrifice the people
in Jonas’ community made worth it? Why or why not?
2. Does Jonas do the right thing leaving his community at the end? Does he have
a duty to stay with his people and help them?
The Hunger Games:
1. Who is the real hero in this novel? Katniss or Peeta? Why?
2. Katniss is able to save Peeta, when she realizes that there has to be a winner
of the Hunger Games. Why is it so important that somebody wins?
3. How are the Hunger Games like reality television in the real world? Is reality
television cruel to the participants? Are the Hunger Games just an exaggeration
of things in the real world?
Among the Hidden:
1. Jen says that she wants freedom or death. Is that a sensible thing to say? Is
her sacrifice worth it?
2. Given the shortage of food in Luke’s world (the Famine), is a population
control law necessary? Should people be having fewer children, and are the
Population Police just doing what they have to in a difficult situation?
1. Would you rather be a Pretty? Is the sacrifice of free thinking worth it to live
an easy and comfortable life?
2. If everyone is forced to become a similar looking ideal, is anyone pretty? Is it
our diversity, imperfections and differences that make us beautiful?
The Forest of Hands and Teeth:
1. Mary realizes that getting married and being safe are not enough for her; that
she needs to know what exists outside the fence. Is that reasonable? Should she
be content with the life she has or is she right to look for something better?
2. The Sisterhood believe they are protecting the Villagers, by keeping their
secrets. Are they?
What Happens Next? (Sequel Preview)
All of these novels have sequels or companion novels. The authors all felt that
there was more to be said about these fictional worlds. Many of your copies
contain a preview of the next book (a 5 or 6 page excerpt that contains some
action, but no major spoilers). Imagine you are writing a sequel to your novel.
Which characters might you add? Would you change the setting? What will
Write a preview for your imagined sequel. It should be approximately 2-4 pages
in length. Do NOT use content from an actual sequel.
It’s All Up to You
Now that you have finished reading your novel, your final assignment is
completely your choice. You may pick an idea from the following list, or come up
with your own. Any assignment that is not on the list, should be approved by Ms.
- Website - Facebook profile -Song
- Video skit - Magazine profile -Diorama
- Costume - Painting or sculpture -Twitter feed
- Poem - Short story -Rap
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
These songs share a common theme. However, each artist has different opinion
on that theme. In your group, choose you favourite and the one you like the
least. Focus on the lyrics, and not on the style or sound of the music. Make sure
you explain why you feel the feel the way that you do. Would you want any of
these people as prime minister? Do any of them make you angry? Be specific.
Make point form notes on chart paper. Tomorrow, one member of your group
will be selected to share your thoughts with the class.
Dystopian Novel Literature Circles Unit Plan
Introduce concepts of utopia and dystopia. Listen to Alanis Morissette’s My
Utopia. Discuss. Listen to three utopian songs and have small group discussions.
Small group presentations. Take notes on definition of a dystopia and
brainstorm some examples (The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, Children of Men,
Bladerunner, Minority Report, I Robot, Battlestar Gallactica, Wall-E)
If there is time, begin viewing Wall-E
Day 3 & 4:
View Wall-E, stopping periodically to discuss and recap. Use the following as an
anchor chart to fill in over the unit. Use as an example of how these stories are
Wall-E Hunger The The Forest Uglies Among the
Games Giver of Hands Hidden
Catastrophe The Return
Aspect of Reality tv
current life Rich vs
that is poor
Authority The The Specials
(who’s in President Sisterhood
Major Diversity, 3rd
sacrifices free children,
Cause for The
Hand out novels. Form groups. Time to read. Hand out portfolios. Explain. Show
Time to read. In novel groups discuss the setting. Get them to fill in as much of
the chart as possible. Hand out first assignment.
Read. Discuss in inter-novel groups (ie. Each member of the inter-novel group is
reading a different book). What do all the setting have in common? Share
responses informally with the class. Time to work on first assignment.
Time to read. Return to anchor chart. Compare novels as a class. Peer edit first
Days 9 & 10:
Time to read. As a class, discuss the sacrifices made in each novel. Why have
people chosen to make major sacrifices in these dystopias? What do they get in
return and how is are the rules enforced? Hand out second assignment. Time to
Days 11 - 13:
Look at newspaper articles (if this has not been covered in a previous unit).
Discuss print and internet. Look at format, content and presentation. If this has
been covered in previous unit, review. Discuss why each of these novels begins
with action (like a mini-climax): the death of Mary’s mom, the Reaping, the fire
alarm in New Pretty Town…. Hand out third assignment. Time to work. Time to
Days 14 – 16:
Review story structure. Book computer lab time to work on assignment #4.
In novel groups, have students share all of their rough copies. Have them discuss
which pieces should be included as portfolio pieces (good copies). Work with
each group on determining what makes a good portfolio.
Days 18 & 19
Have students in internovel groups debate and discuss film adaptations. Good or
bad? Possible casts? What is the target audience for the movie? What should it
be rated? What should be changed? What makes a good film adaptation?
Examples. Share thoughts with the class. Look at examples of movie posters.
Assign movie poster. Time to work and read.
Days 20 – 21:
Have students partner with someone reading another novel and compare in
depth. Provide partners with discussion questions that they can answer orally,
in writing or in point form as time permits. Assign comparisons.
Another portfolio discussion day and time to polish for good copies.
Copy quotes for reflection on to large pieces of chart paper. Have novel groups
discuss the quotes, specifically, how do they relate to the theme? Point form
notes can be put on the chart paper. One quote can be shared with the class.
With explanation and scaffolding hand out quote assignment. Provide time for
conversation in novel and internovel groups.
NY Times Learning Blog dystopia lesson plan. Choose parts as appropriate, see
printed copy in the binder.
Review essay writing. (Obviously, more time required if this hasn’t been
covered before). Use essay templates and checklists.
Hand out essays and time to work and peer edit. Provide time for conversation
in novel and internovel groups, with teacher moderation.
Another portfolio and good copy day. Discuss methods for presenting material.
Show examples from previous years/other novels.
Discuss sequels, prequels and companion novels. Hand out sequel assignment.
Look at sequel previews in various books. Provide work and discussion time.
Wrap up time! Peer edit, etc.
Group assignment. Have students make a tourism ad campaign for their novels
setting. Ad campaign should include a print ad and a television ad. Should be
filmed, but can be acted for the class. Talk about what features of the dystopias
those in authority would choose to highlight and those they would hide…
I Want to Go to There
Imagine a tourism ad campaign for the setting of your novel. Remember that
those in authority are experts at hiding and manipulating information. What
would they chose to highlight about their communities? What would they hide?
Create a print ad (billboard, bus ad etc) and a television ad for the setting of your
novel. The television ad should be filmed, edited and submitted on DVD for
playback in class. If access to technology is a major problem, please see Ms
Gordon-Norman and arrangements, loans or exceptions can be made.
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Group does not Group attempts to Group works Group works well
work together, work together, together without together, with each
extensive some mediation teacher member
mediation required required intervention contributing
according to their
Print ad is messy Print ad contains Print ad contains Print ad contains
and/or incoherent. few elements, and multiple multiple, carefully
Inadequate effort shows a lack of appropriate chosen elements
expended effort and/or elements and is and is very visually
attention visually attractive attractive
Ads do not reflect Ads reflect some Ads reflect an Ads reflect a deep
an understanding understanding of understanding of understanding of
of the novel or of the novel and the the novel and the the novel and the
the manipulation manipulation of manipulation of manipulation of
of information by information by information by information,
fictional fictional fictional through satire/wit
authorities authorities authorities
Television ad Television ad Television ad Television ad is
demonstrates a demonstrates demonstrates well-planned and
lack of planning some planning and appropriate edited. Showing a
and poor editing partial editing planning and high degree of
editing production skill.
Props, costumes, Some props, Appropriate props, Props, costumes
technology are not costumes and/or costumes and and technology are
used to create technology are technology are used to enhance
either piece used used communication
Ready on time? Yes No