Today's class focused on the science fiction theme of time travel. We began with a quickwrite:
After discussing responses to the quickwrite, we read an article on the theoretical possibility of time travel. This article covered modern scientific theories on how time travel might be possible. Due to the scientific reasoning involved in answering some of the questions, students were allowed to work with a partner to complete this assignment. Here is a link to the article and the questions:
After discussing this article, we watched a fictional take on the topic of time travel from the classic TV series, The Twilight Zone. The episode we watched was called "Back There." Here are the questions that accompanied the viewing:
For homework, finish any part of the two assignments that you did not finish in class. In addition, read to page 143 in I, Robot.
In today's class, we covered the common science fiction theme of virtual reality. Virtual reality is a term used to describe any virtually created environment that an individual can, in some way, enter. A modern example is the headset known as The Oculus Rift.
We began class with a quickwrite:
1. Are we too reliant on electronic technology? Why, or why not?
2. What are your thoughts on virtual reality? Do you think realistic virtual reality technology would have positive or negative effects on our society? Why?
After discussing responses to these questions, we watched a film version of a Ray Bradbury short story entitled "The Veldt". The questions to accompany the video are attached below the video.
We discussed Bradbury's negative portrayal of virtual reality and then contrasted it with Chris Milk's Ted Talk on virtual reality. Note that in Bradbury's vision, virtual reality pushes people apart and makes them less empathetic toward each other; in Chris Milk's vision, virtual reality brings people together and makes them more empathetic toward each other.
After this video, we had a discussion guided by the following questions:
1. Does Bradbury's or Milk's vision of virtual reality seem like a more realistic outcome?
2. Do you think virtual reality technology with be used more as a tool for creating empathy or simply for entertainment and escapism?
3. As a society becomes more and more globally connected, why is empathy so important?
Finish any incomplete work on the Bradbury questions, and read to page 111 in I, Robot.
Today's class focused on the common science fiction theme of the individual vs. society.
We began with a quickwrite:
After the quickwrite, we discussed student responses to these questions. Next, we had a class discussion on several themes and elements of I, Robot in the reading so far. This was followed by a short pop quiz on the novel. If you were absent for the quiz, please let me know.
Then, I gave a personal narrative assignment based on the theme of the individual vs. society.
1. Write about a time in which you went against the norm. Explain the details of the situation (what happened and why), and explain how you felt about this situation.
2. Write about a viewpoint you hold that is at odds with the majority viewpoint. Why do you hold this view? How has it affected your life?
This narrative should be a full single side of lined paper or typed, double-spaced, and in 12 point font.
CHULA VISTA HOMEWORK:
- Finish your personal narrative, and read to page 90 in I, Robot.
LA MESA HOMEWORK:
- You will not have on-site classes for the next two weeks. Over these two weeks, please complete the following, and bring them with you to our next class:
1. Read to page 143 in I, Robot.
2. Finish your personal narrative writing assignment (see above).
3. Choose and complete one book project for I, Robot from the list attached below.
4. Complete a review for the hit magazine, The Good Stuff (also attached below).
In today's class, we discussed a common trope of the sci-fi genre: artificial intelligence (AI).
We began with a quickwrite. The questions were as follows:
1. What do you currently know about artificial intelligence?
2. What movies, TV shows, or books have you seen or read that involve artificial intelligence?
3. Do you think developing advanced artificial intelligence is a good idea? Why, or why not?
After discussing these questions, we watched a video on recent advances in AI. Here is the link:
After the video, I handed out some questions to answer and discuss. They are as follows:
After discussing these questions and issues, students shared out their robot designs from last class.
Your homework is to read to page 68 in I, Robot.
Science Fiction is sometimes referred to as Speculative Fiction, as one of the main roles of a science fiction author is to speculate about how certain aspects of society and culture (technology, space travel, politics and government) might play out in the future.
In today's class, we did an in-class assignment based on this role of the science fiction author. The homework from last class was to read the first chapter of I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. In today's class, it is your job to design a robot.
For this assignment, you must complete a drawing on a blank, plain piece of paper illustrating your robot and labeling its various parts and their purposes. Then, you must write (in paragraphs) a full page that includes of following information:
1. Name of robot
2. Purpose of robot
3. Personality / Demeanor
4. Level of artificial intelligence
5. What "rules of robotics" (see I, Robot) will you incorporate into the robot's coding
6. How many will be made?
7. Who will have one?
8. Effects on society (positive & negative)
Bring this with you to our next class, and be ready to share them. In addition, read the next chapter of I, Robot.
Today we began our science fiction unit in English class.
We started with a quickwrite assignment. The prompt was as follows:
1. What do you think it would be like to travel into space? Would you ever want to go? Why or why not?
2. Do you think humans should eventually colonize other planets? Why or why not?
Next, we watched a short video on the upcoming privately funded Mars mission, Mars One. After watching the video, we discussed the ethics, viability, and purposes of this mission.
Then, we watched a film adaption of a Ray Bradbury speculative science fiction story published in 1950 to compare '50s fiction with today's possible reality.
I handed out some questions to accompany the film. The questions on the front side were to be completed during the viewing. The questions on the back side were to be completed afterwards. They are attached below. I collected this assignment and then handed out our new class novel, I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.
For homework, please read through page 24 in the novel.
Today's class consisted of work time to complete the final drafts of your short stories. If you were not done by the end of today's class, you may email your story to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of spring break.
You will have no additional homework over the break!
Enjoy your two weeks off!
The rough drafts of your short stories were due today.
Students then had a peer critique session to get feedback on their creative work. The peer critique form is attached below.
After critiquing each others' work, students then reviewed the feedback they received and began editing their rough drafts into polished final drafts.
Your homework from today's class is to continue editing your stories. The final drafts will be due by the end of next class.
Chris Trompas - English teacher at the Learning Choice Academy in Chula Vista and La Mesa, CA.