Teaching Plot and Inference with Harrison Bergeron

I love teaching Harrison Bergeron.  I take a whole week to go through it.  And my kids seem to love it too... which makes me love it even more.

Things You Will Need to Teach This Lesson:

·         Instructions
·         Harrison Bergeron PowerPoint 
·         Index Cards
·         Bill of Rights
·         Day 1 Opener Handout 
·         “Harrison Bergeron”
·         Harrison Bergeron Plot Points 
·         Harrison Bergeron Plot and Inference Chart 
·         Harrison Bergeron Plot and Inference Chart Answer Key 
·         2081 
·         Harrison Bergeron vs. 2081 Handout 


Activity One: What is your best quality?
As the students walk into class, hand them an index card.  Using slides 1 and 2, introduce the story that you’re about to read.  Have the students write their best quality on the index card.  Once students have completed the task, split them into four different groups based on their best quality:
  • ·         Those that said some type of athletic is their best quality
  • ·         Those that said their best quality has something to do with their beauty
  • ·         Those that said something musical or artistic is their best quality
  • ·         Those that said something academic is their best quality

Once they are split into their groups, handicap them according to their qualities.  Ask the students to pretend that the government has now declared that everyone should be equal, therefore those who are athletic now have to wear weights around, those that are beautiful now have to wear masks, those that are artistic have to wear glasses that impair their sight, and those that are academic have to wear radio’s that emit sound that impair their thinking.  

Using slide 3, have students discuss how their handicap makes their lives different.  Based on time or how in depth you want to be, students can come up with a written testimony, formal speech, or poster. 

Once students are done discussing, have each group share out their group's results.
Activity Two: Bill of Rights
If you need a link to The Bill of Rights, you can find it here:
How students work on this section of the lesson is up to you.  In my classroom, I have students work in small groups (slide 5).  Students read each amendment and summarize what the amendment says. 
Once students have completed their summaries, we have a class discussion about how the Bill of Rights makes things more equal in society and how it makes things less equal (slide 6).  Depending on your students, you can use the slide to help students along. Students write down their findings in the graphic organizer.
After that, students should answer the essential question: How does the government play a role in our lives?  What do we do about it when our government trespasses on our individuality?
Activity Three: Harrison Bergeron
Play the trailer for students (slide 9). 
Hand out a copy of “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut.  I have included the Holt McDougal version link with talking points for annotation as you read.  I’ve also included a P.A.T. list on slide 10.

Activity Four: Plot Poster
Separate the students into groups and hand each student an anchor poster along with the Harrison Bergeron Plot Points (slide 12).  Have students draw the plot chart and begin plotting the points from the handout.  I usually turn it into a game (the first group done with plot points correct win extra credit, pencils, candy, etc.)  Once students are finished, pass out the Harrison Bergeron Plot and Inference handout.  Have them compare their work with the correct answers on the handout.
Activity Five: Plot and Inference Chart
Once the students have the handout, they can begin working on answering the questions for plot:
       Why is this event important in the story?
       How does this event impact the story?
       If this event had not occurred, how would the story be different? (slide 12)
The next section deals with inference.  Students are given two out of three pieces of information: the character, a piece of text evidence, or an inference from the story.  Based on that information, they need to fill in the blanks.  Two questions only include text evidence, and it’s up to the student to determine who the character is, and what the text evidence says about them. Slide 14 contains the first two so that the assignment can be modeled for students.
Activity Six: 2081
For the last activity, the students watch the film version of “Harrison Bergeron,” 2081.  While watching students should use the venn diagram to compare the film to the short story.  I show the film because “Harrison Bergeron” can be hard to visualize for some students. 
Finally, I have them answer the essential question again, this time with evidence from the text.

I hope this lesson generates some ideas for you.  If you're interested in the resources for this lesson, you can find them at my TPT Store here.