Making Curriculum Pop

I am teaching Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 to high school sophomores this fall and am wondering what the most effective way to teach it will be. I think this is such an influential and important novel and I really want to make the students connect with the novel and get everything out of it that they can. I am open to discussion about specific activities or general approach strategies. I have a little over a month to get this set up and really just want it to be effective.

My thoughts so far: comparing the different covers of the novel as a pre-reading activity; Discussing books that have been banned and the reasons for their banning; discussing the censorship of Fahrenheit 451 that was done without Bradbury's consent or knowledge; discussing ways in which Bradbury was predictive of how our culture is today; how plausible the society presented in the novel is; how close we are to that society now...

I am open to suggestions, advice, changes, etc!

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One of my colleagues just taught it and used an essay I really liked for the final assessment:

Put yourself in Guy Montag's shoes, and imagine that you've joined the wandering group of book lovers. think of 3 books you think would be worth saving from the firemen. These should be works you think would be of value to future civilizations, either for their ideas, their stories, their characters, or their points of view. In a well-written essay, tell which books you've selected and defend your choices in terms of the book's meaning and the contribution it can make for a better world. In the introduction, tell the reader why books are important, not just newspapers and facts but also fiction. The conclusion should address the general theme of the importance of literature in a world where instant gratification and technological dependency seem to consume daily life. What have we lost in the process of technological development and even in writing stories down? Include your book choices in this larger framework.

Warn them to think about it, not just saying bible, dictionary, and history books (or from what I read...Romeo & Juliet because it's a love story and the Twilight series). I'm not saying to not use these, but to tell them to have sound reasons for it.

Or maybe try the reverse as a discussion/quick-write topic: What would you do if all technology was lost somehow? Would society be more productive, be more resourceful, etc.?

I haven't taught it, so I can't help you with lesson plans or anything, but If I think of anything more, I'll let you know! But I do love this book.
Thank you so much for this! I really like both of those essay ideas. I think they could both be really provocative and encourage the students to really think more deeply about the issues presented. Again, thanks so much for the suggestions! They are much appreciated.
I can suggest some supplemental ideas / websites to expand on the great ideas you and Sean have laid out there.

You might check two ALA sites about censorship and schools
http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/ifissues/censorshipscho...
http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/index.cfm
ALA also does Banned Books week - the webpages aren't working at present but this site tells a bit about the program:
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/bannedbookslist.html

The book was inspired partly by the Nazi Degenerate Art Exhibits - great lesson plan resource on that here:
http://www.greatesttheft.com/lessonplans.php

NPR - This might not be great for 10th graders but jut this spring ... Toni Morrison — along with fellow literary greats Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, Nadine Gordimer, the late John Updike, and more — is looking directly at the role of the writer. At censorship and free expression and the importance of imagination’s free rein to a society’s fundamental health and growth.
Here on NPR: http://www.onpointradio.org/2009/05/toni-morrison-2

This This American Life audio show is INCREDIBLE - 285: Know Your Enemy clip speaks of the power of books (specifically comics) to change behavior.

Host Ira Glass talks to Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics, about one of the men in his book, a guy named Stetson Kennedy. In the 1940s, Kennedy, a Southerner, infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. Then he leaked what he discovered in an effort to bring down the organization. One of his weapons: the Superman radio show. (8 minutes)

You might also contact Frank Baker and ask him what type of censorship lessons he has at the Media Lit Clearinghouse and my mom, Pam Goble, teaches adolescent lit and does a lot of work with banned books. She might have some more resource ideas as well.
I just GOOGLED this novel and found a host of great ideas and resources. Good luck.

Frank Baker
Frank did you have anything at the MLC about government cencorship of photos or war images - I seem to remember seeing something like that on the site.... am I nutty?

RRG:)
Sydney,
Download the lit circle forms( on this site) and and you might have the students work through the novel that way to start. There is also a great video on RB through the English teachers catalog. Definitely scaffold the story with info on RB and then use the video to help with context. You can parallel with other novels or use some of his short stories if you want to go that route.
Radio spirits has quite a few of his radio plays which the kids absolutely love. They are 20-30 minutes and you get listening and note taking skills in that part of the lesson.
NOTE: Sidney originally posted this as a blog - I suggested she repost here in Am Lit for a quicker response. If you pop over to her first blog you'll see a few other resources - one posted today. Of course, it is probably worth referencing that long Bradbury blog I did about the 451 graphic novel - "COMIC: Fahrenheit 451 and Ray "Rad"bury" - here also.

Thanks to everyone for all the great responses on all these posts!!! Sydney, we can't wait to hear how this all works out for your unit!!!

RRG:)
It's a little late I'm afraid, but I had my students "twitter" as the characters from the novel. We got into great discussions about Bradbury's fear of the loss of the written word and its permanence. It served as an eye opener to the decline of language or written word when students had to relay events and thoughts of the characters in 140 characters or less. I told them it would be hard to twitter as Clarisse, Faber and Guy (at least the last half of the novel) wouldn't be twittering, but they had to do those characters as well.

It could work as a review for the novel as well: characters' ideas/behavior, major events and character involvement, etc.

I am NOT an aficionado when it comes to twitter or how to get a website to look or act like twitter. My students had to do it on paper. If anyone has an idea on that I would love to know what it is.
I just played a clip from the Oct. 12 Daily SHow about CNN - it dovetails neatly with what Beatty says to Montage. Take the time to watch the clip - my students really did make the connection and it tied into my overriding question of "Are we in a dystopia now?" This clip really helped some kids "get" it.
Robert, ditto on this one - can you embed the video? Thanks, Ryan:)
I think I did it right - check and see
Yeup - you're now a webmaster:)

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