Grades 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Jonas, a twelve-year old, lives in a seemingly perfect futuristic world. His community protects him from all harm and in doing so has taken away his opportunity to make decisions. Will Jonas ever be able to make a choice on his own? This lesson is based on the award-winning book “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, [Houghton Mifflin, Co., 1993.]
Based on the award-winning book The Giver by Lois Lowry, this one class period lesson can be integrated into a literature unit or used as a stand-alone activity in a social studies class. Students will need to be familiar with Jonas’s story to successfully complete this lesson. Students who have not read the book or seen the movie should be able to acquire enough background information by either reading the book synopsis on the inside of the front book jacket flap or the concise summary found at the Grade Saver website. https://www.gradesaver.com/the-giver/study-guide/summary
After the students have declared how they would solve Jonas’s problem by “voting with their feet” and discussed the reasons why with others that made the same choice, you may allow them to change their minds and revote. This often leads to the realization that there is no exact answer to Jonas’s dilemma, should he stay in the community or leave, but multiple alternatives, all with potential positive and negative outcomes.
Extension Activity #1 Challenge the students to create a cost/benefit decision grid based on some real life situations that require choices be made. Possible topics could include: what book to check out, whether to pack lunch or buy the school lunch, which movie to attend, or what activities to do over the weekend.
Extension Activity #2 Tell the students that the community Jonas lives in is an example of a command economy. Define a command economy as an economy in which most economic issues of production and distribution are resolved through a central planning committee, in this case the Committee of Elders. Explain that at the beginning of the story Jonas is anxious to learn what job, or assignment, he will have for the entirety of his working life. It will be a job that fits him; addressing his interests and abilities. The Elders have been watching him, and the other students for a year or longer to help them make the best matches between children and jobs. When the Ceremony of Twelve finally takes place, Jonas receives an unusual assignment. He becomes the new Receiver of Memory, the person who is responsible for all of the memories of the community. Ask students if they think it is fair to expect twelve-year-olds to know what jobs they should have for the rest of their working lives. Encourage the students to work with a partner to create a list of at least three reasons getting a job assignment is a good idea and three reasons why it is a bad idea. Allow time for class discussion.
Extension Activity #3 Invite the students to write an acrostic poem based on one of the economic concepts as they are applied to the society-featured in The Giver. In this type of poem the letters of each line are lined up vertically to display knowledge of the concept’s meaning. Possible choices include: alternative, benefit, choice, cost, incentive, opportunity cost, and scarcity. Students may also choose an appropriate concept of their own.
– Willingness to put forth effort to help
– Others remain free from want and worry
– Resulted in a society lacking in
– Knowledge of freedom of personal achievement
To check for students’ understanding of the activity and economic concepts, this activity sheet may be used: Assessment Activity Sheet – Visual. As there are no exact answers to this activity, it would reinforce student learning to allow them to exchange completed papers to check each other’s work.
Grades 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Grades K-2, 3-5
Grades K-2, 3-5