Tag Archives: lesson ideas

Revolution, Revolt & Rebellion: What’s the difference?

My students are finishing up their dystopian fiction unit. My eighth graders had a choice to read The Giver by Lois Lowry, Animal Farm by George Orwell, or Unwind by Neil Shusterman. Throughout the dystopian literature unit students met weekly in literature groups to go deep and zoom in a particular text. When we got together as a large class we zoomed out to look at the larger themes, ideas, and concepts presented among all three of the texts.

This is the lesson that I prepared for my students, and my principal since she was joining the class for my formal observation.

The Essential Questions:  What role does rebellion, revolt, and revolution play in dystopian fiction?

How does the protagonist react to the repressive aspects of the dystopian society presented in the novel?



Objectives: By the end of the lesson student will be able to (KUDos)


  • The negative aspects of the dystopian world presented in their dystopian text.
  • Rebellion and revolt are synonymous. Meaning 1. an effort by many people to change the government or leader or a country by the use of protest or violence; 2. open opposition toward a person or group in authority; 3. refusal to obey rules or accept normal standards of behavior. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rebellion)
  • Revolution as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary means: the violent attempt by many people to end the rule of one government and start a new one.


  • Dystopian fictions show a fine line between the idea and the repressive.
  • The protagonist in dystopian literature is a figurehead of rebellion who questions the existing social and political systems presented in the dystopian text.
  • Most dystopian literature presents a world in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a utopian society are maintained through different controls.


  • Use Smart phones to access pictures and videos using i-Nigma QR Code reader app
  • Make inferences based on images of revolutions.
  • Define rebellion, revolution, and revolt and apply these definitions to their dystopian literature.
  • Draw connections between revolutions in history and popular culture to the dystopian literature.
  • Identify the ideal and repressive elements in the dystopian literature that lead to acts of rebellion in the texts by completing a graphic organizer in small groups.



Part 1 – Do Now:  Upon entering the class students will be asked to answer the following questions on paper:

How you would define the word revolution? How would you distinguish a revolution from a civil war, an uprising, a rebellion or revolt, or a protest or demonstration? What examples from history illustrate your ideas?

Part 2 – Hook: Before we share our thoughts and ideas, students will choose two of the six QR codes posted around the room to scan on their smart phones. The QR Codes allow the students  to view an array of images and video in history and popular culture presenting rebellion, revolutions, and revolts. These images include: The Boston Tea Party, The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising during WWII, tearing down the Berlin Wall, Riots in Tehran, a scene from The Hunger Games, and Napoleon’s take over in France, 1789.  Students will look at the picture, read the caption, and make inferences about the images. Students are asked to record the image and date of the image on their Do Now Handout and then write a brief description of the image presented. Students are using critical thinking skills, visual literacy skills, and background information, to determine whether the event is a rebellion, revolt, or revolution.

Debrief Part 1 & Part 2:   Students will come back to their seats to share some of their working definitions of revolution, revolt, and rebellion. Ideas will be catalogued on the SmartBoard. Students will apply their definitions to the images from the QR Codes.  The teacher will post the pictures on the SmartBoard for students to share their responses and inferences. This debriefing will allow students to revise their definitions and create a whole class definition for: revolution, rebellion, and revolt.

Part 3 – Interactive Notebooks: Students will cut and glue an interactive foldable on Rebellion in Dystopian Literature into their English notebook. During this time the teacher will walk around the classrooms to check in with the different groups and support any students with special needs or questions.

Part 4 – Synthesis: Students will get into their small groups based on their book choices to complete the chart in their notebook applying what they know and learned about rebellion, revolt, and revolution to their dystopian book. In small groups students will identify the ideal and repressive aspects of their dystopian society and ways in which rebellion, revolt, and revolution play in their dystopian novels. During this time the teacher will walk around the classrooms to check in with the different groups and support any students with special needs or questions.

Part 5 – Closure: Students will complete the exit ticket that allows them to write one statement about what they learned today and one question that still remains. These handouts will be collected and used for formative assessment.  

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On the Go: New York Transit Museum Sparks Creative Lessons for Diverse Content Areas

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Whether you have children or students obsessed with anything that moves (i.e. trains and buses), teach about the turn of the 20th Century, or are looking for an awesome museum that is off the beaten path . . .  The New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn, New York is the place to go.  

My family and I spent the afternoon exploring throughout this hands-on museum learning about history of the New York City Transit from omnibus to elevated trains to trolleys to the subway.   Did you know that the IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit System) began constructing the first subway line in 1900 and in 1904 the first subway line carried as many as 100,000 people on its very first day!  Most of the subway system that is in place today was built from 1916 to 1931. Today, New York City subway lines are one of the most extensive and busiest in the world.

The mission of the New York Transit Museum is ” to collect, exhibit, interpret, and preserve the history, sociology, and technology of public transportation in the New York metropolitan region, and to conduct research and educational programs that will make the Museum’s extensive collection accessible and meaningful to the broadest possible audience.”

But the museum is not all history, there were science connections with an exhibition on Electricity.  From a math standpoint, there is also an exhibition about the tokens.  At one time, it only cost a dime to ride the subway!  For a music connection, Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video was filled just a few blocks in a nearby subway station twenty five years ago. 

Hands down, the best part of museum happens to be the vintage subway cars.  The lower level includes more than a dozen subway cars from the Brooklyn Union Elevated Car, to the Money Train and more.

The museum’s website offers the history of the transit system, lesson plans for teachers, and historical documents on the teacher resources webpage.  Additional online activities include Gallery talks, magnetic transit poetry, and transit artifacts .  The museum is available for school trips and open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays.


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Literacy Lessons Inspired by Community Gardens

Seedfolks, written by Paul Fleischman, is a great book written in vignettes about a small community of people who work together to build a flourishing community garden. Each chapter is a different character telling their story from their point of view – a young girl, an immigrant, a pregnant teenagers, and seven others turn an abandoned lot into a flourishing garden.

Here are some pictures I took while walking through the garden at my local nature center and museum.  I was reminded of Seedfolks and how a garden can inspire lessons on creative writing, the environment, science, nature, and even math.


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