9.25.2017

Banned Books Week: The Dangers of Censoring Free Speech

The danger of limiting free speech  www.hungergameslessons.com


Banned Books Week: The Dangers of Censoring Free Speech
As we celebrate our freedom to read during Banned Books Week, it's important to remind students that many countries are not afforded this fundamental right. Countries such as North Korea, Eritrea, Russia, China, Turkmenistan, and Burma limit their citizens' right to read materials of their own choosing. Roughly two-thirds of the world's population lives under government-sanctioned internet censorship, according to a 2016 study by Freedom House.

Panem is controlled by an authoritarian government who chooses what its citizens listen to, watch, read, and learn. President Snow decides what is appropriate and acceptable for ALL citizens, whether it is real or not. This is not unlike North Korea, where cell phone use is restricted and only the "political elite" are allowed internet access. The government controls what is printed in the newspapers and other periodicals, as well as what is broadcast over the airwaves. (Source: https://cpj.org/2015/04/10-most-censored-countries.php)

So if we think a fictional world like Panem could never exist in the real world, sadly, it already does. There may not be real-life Hunger Games competitions, but there's no shortage of world leaders willing to poison their dissenters. (See this New York Times article and this report from Amnesty International.)

How does this relate to Banned Books Week?
Challenging books--which involves one person or group advocating for the removal of the book(s) from the library or school/classroom--is a threat to our First Amendment right of freedom of speech. It's the first step in limiting access to information like the government-controlled countries previously mentioned. If the door is opened to allow one person or group to dictate what is appropriate for all, it could have negative ramifications, including other persons or groups demanding the removal of all kinds of books for various reasons. And why stop at books? The floodgates would be opened for censorship of all the information we receive. When this happens, our democracy will cease to exist.

We currently have a president who does not speak out against Neo-Nazis who violently protested in Charlottesville, but speaks out against Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who exercise their First Amendment right to peacefully protest the racial injustices in our country. Does this remind you of a scene from Catching Fire?

Are we living in Panem?  www.hungergameslessons.com

 When a leader encourages violence and/or backlash against a citizen for exercising his freedom of speech, our democracy has already begun to crumble. (sources: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/24/sports/nfl-trump-anthem-protests.htmlhttp://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-race-analysis-20170923-story.html)

Take a stand against censorship: Become a Rebel Reader 
Banned Books Week: Be a Rebel Reader  www.hungergameslessons.comJust as Katniss, Gale, Peeta, Finnick and all the rebels in Panem took a stand against the suppression of information by President Snow, your students can take a stand against censorship by becoming "rebel readers." A rebel reader will celebrate his/her freedom to read and freedom to choose what to read. A rebel reader doesn't allow the government, media outlets, or social media to decide what is "fake news," but will seek the truth him/herself by researching the facts. A rebel reader will step out of his/her comfort zone and read works by new and different authors about people and places and events that are foreign to him/her. A rebel reader will read with an open mind and look at both sides of an issue or viewpoint.

How to be a rebel reader  www.hungergameslessons.com

To encourage your students, give them opportunities to practice being a responsible rebel reader. When researching facts, require students to use several trusted and reliable sources. Surround your students with a variety of reading materials; vary the works you read with your students.


Topics of discussion   
• Discuss how the United States differs from other countries when it comes to censorship of the internet and news media outlets. Many students have experienced some form of internet censorship at schools with internet filters; for most, it is very frustrating to come to these roadblocks when searching for information. The difference, however, is that in our country, there are ways around the filters when necessary. But how would students feel if there were no other options?  

• Using the 2016 election as an example, discuss how social media filters (i.e. Facebook ads that target certain users) influenced the results of the election. If voters hadn't been bombarded with damaging articles posing as real news, would the results have been different? Ask your students why they think some people deem articles shared on social media as reliable information? Why aren't a majority of Americans turning to trusted news sites for their information?

• Ask students how they feel about peaceful, silent protests. Do they think NFL players should be fired for taking a knee during the national anthem? Why or why not? If they think it's inappropriate, ask them what alternative protest could they partake in that has the same impact/viewership?

• Compare today's peaceful protests with peaceful protests of the past. For example, revisit my post about Olympic protests. Why are some athletes punished, while others aren't? Does it boil down to race? What must happen for us to move on as a country?

Celebrate our freedom to read
Even if you are not able to fit any "banned book" discussions or activities into your curriculum this week, try to do one thing: give your students time in class to read something of their own choosing.   Let's ensure that our students realize that reading--and the freedom to choose what to read--is a fundamental right in our country that we all value.

If you are in need of materials for Banned Books Week, my previous post showcases my bulletin board display and warning labels bundle, complete with an introductory activity.

Banned Books Week caution warning labels with bulletin board display

You can also visit the American Library Association's site for Banned Books Week here: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks 

9.23.2017

Banned Books Week: Create an Interactive Classroom Display

Banned Books Week Classroom Display  www.hungergameslessons.com


Banned Books Week: Create an Interactive Classroom (or Library) Display
Banned Books Week is always one of my favorite weeks for teaching because I love the reactions my students have when they learn one of their favorite books was challenged or banned.

"What!? That can't be!"

"No way! That's so stupid!"

"No one can tell me what I can't read!"

Students who seem nonchalant and disinterested in reading all of a sudden become passionate book lovers and defenders. It is truly a glorious thing for an English teacher to witness.

So how do you incite this behavior? 

One of the things I like to do is raid my classroom library for all the books that have been banned or challenged. I then cover them up with warning labels with the reasons they were challenged.

Banned Books Week  www.hungergameslessons.com

When I first started doing this a few years ago, I placed the books in paper sacks (or covered them with whatever I could find) and taped the warning labels to the outside. Students could lift up the sacks to reveal the book.

Banned Books Week Classroom Display  www.hungergameslessons.com

Eleanor & Park Banned Books Week Classroom Display  www.hungergameslessons.com

This worked well, but some of my labels were messy or didn't have the "Caution" tape warning. So two years ago, I streamlined all of them into one bundle. You can find them HERE.

The labels can be used alone, on a paper sack, or just with a piece of paper to wrap around the book (use colored paper in a variety of colors to make them stand out).

The Hunger Games Banned Books Week Classroom Display  www.hungergameslessons.com

If you are using paper (as shown above), use a scrap piece of paper or an index card in the back to tape the two ends of the paper/label together. This serves several purposes: it makes the paper/label long enough to fit around the book, it secures the paper/label without damaging the book, and it allows the students to easily pull the paper/label up to reveal the book.

I guarantee your students will be shocked to learn of some of the reasons their favorite books have been challenged and banned.

Don't have books? No problem!
For those who don't have a classroom library, I've got you covered. My label bundle also includes an interactive display (complete with "Caution" tape) to use on a bulletin board, wall, chalkboard, or wherever you can find room. Your students won't be able to stop themselves from lifting the flaps to reveal the titles. 

Banned Books Week Classroom Display  www.hungergameslessons.com

I also made both formats with a blank template so you can type any updated or new labels directly onto the page.

The bundle also includes an activity to introduce the interactive display and begin a serious
discussion about censorship and the dangers of limiting our freedom to read.


Caution Labels and Bulletin Board Display for Banned Books Week  www.hungergameslessons.com


For more information about Banned Books Week, check out the official website by the American Library Association. It includes downloadable posters, a coloring page, lessons, and many other free resources for teachers and librarians.

11.13.2016

Focus on Kindness

Focus on Kindness: Dealing with the aftermath of the election


Focus on Kindness: Dealing with the aftermath of the Presidential election

The 2016 Presidential election is over, along with the negative campaigning, name-calling, relentless ads, and uncomfortable debates. We are left, however, with the aftermath of this hate-filled campaign season: a country divided with citizens threatening one another, protests in the streets, and children who fear their families will be ripped apart. Our reality is starting to look more like Panem than America.

In Mockingjay, Katniss learned to deal with her nightmares by focusing on the acts of kindness she witnessed each day:

Mockingjay Acts of Goodness
 "I'll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I'm afraid it could be taken away. That's when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I've seen someone do. It's like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more than twenty years.
But there are worse games to play." (From p. 390 of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.)

Recalling these "acts of goodness" is a cathartic activity for Katniss. It reminds her that there is, indeed, kindness and good left in the world.

You don't have to be a survivor of the Hunger Games or suffered under President Snow's tyranny to use this technique to cope with your anger, fears, or uneasiness that you might be feeling right now. It's a great activity to remind us all that kindness is still alive.

You can download this free activity from my TpT store. It includes directions and a handout for students with an optional writing component. While implementing the activity, you may use these tips:
acts of goodness
• Remind your students to focus on the positive things they see each day.

• Have students share their findings with the class.

• Start a kindness or "Acts of Goodness" wall in which students write their daily observations.

• Don't offer rewards for kind acts; this sends the wrong message to students. We want students to be kind for intrinsic reasons.

What I have noticed is students who are actively looking for examples of selfless acts are often inspired to be kinder themselves. And isn't that the ultimate goal?

1.20.2016

Hunger Games Coloring Book Pages for Teens and Adults

Hunger Games Coloring Pages


Looking for quality Hunger Games coloring pages? I just posted a pack of over 20 pages in my teacher store. {They are currently on sale!} Get them here:



Coloring is a great way to reduce stress and we all know how stressful it is being a teenager! Use these coloring pages as a motivational tool in your classroom. The less your students are stressed, the better results you'll get from them academically.

Some designs are more intricate and others are more simple (see preview for image of pages) to allow for both differentiation and for students (and adults) to add their own doodles. 
The beauty of the designs is that both teens and adults enjoy them.  



Adult Coloring Book Hunger Games

The coloring pages download is not affiliated, connected to, or endorsed in any way by Suzanne Collins, Scholastic Books, Lions Gate Movies, or any of the aforementioned affiliates. Clip art used is a combination of images created by Tracee Orman, Caryn Wheeler, and Kimberly Geswein (KG Fonts).

11.21.2015

Mockingjay Part 2 Movie Review

Mockingjay Part 2 Moview Review from @HGLessons

The final movie in the series, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2" was a satisfying, albeit bittersweet, ending.

For those of you who have not read the books and do not want spoilers, I will give you this: we get much more Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth work so well together and do a spectacular job portraying the characters from author Suzanne Collins' trilogy. 

We see very little Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and even less Effie (Elizabeth Banks); their absence is felt with the lack of humorous exchanges and lightheartedness. This is a dark, serious film without the one-liners the the previous three films had. Which is appropriate: the final book in the series is a solemn, pensive resolution to the war-torn Panem. The fact that many of the serious lines spoken by Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) were either delivered via a "letter" or cut adds to the somberness.
But make no mistake: this is the mood that is appropriate for the conclusion. Any attempt to lighten it would have been a slap in the face to the series. 

I highly recommend seeing it; but even more, I beg you to read the books first. So much is glossed over and left out, leaving the viewer to fill in the blanks from the novel. I think those who have not read the book will be left with some unanswered questions, many of which are answered in the book.

OK, time to move on to the specific scenes I felt were important. This means there are SPOILERS ahead!

Mockingjay Part 2: Top Scenes, Favorite Moments (Contains Spoilers!)

SPOLIERS!! 

My favorite moments from the movie include:


Beetee ©Lions Gate Entertainment
1. Beetee and Gale discussing bombing methods (including studying the hummingbird's flight patterns--thank you for including that detail!): This was a subtle moment and if you weren't listening you may not have caught it, but it was definitely essential to include in order for the resolution to play out like it does in the novel. By the way, was it just me, or was Liam Hemsworth wearing eyeliner? I swear Gale had more eye makeup than Katniss. It looked out of character.

Commander Paylor ©Lions Gate Entertainment
2. Commander Paylor as a strong leader: I was surprised how Paylor (Patina Miller) was portrayed in Part 1. Why make her look like a peasant? She is a strong woman in the book and knowing she would become the leader of the country in the end, I was disappointed that Francis Lawrence didn't portray her character that way. So I was extremely glad to see her more polished and confident in Part 2. 

3. Katniss getting shot in the subway tunnel to the Nut in District 2: Though it's not as emotionally charged as in the book (when we get all the reminders of her father), it's an intense moment and played out well on screen.

Primrose ©Lions Gate Entertainment
4. Finnick and Annie's wedding: Again, so much was cut, but viewers get to enjoy a poignant moment between Prim and Katniss, a funny exchange between Katniss and Johanna, and a tender kiss between Finnick and Annie.

Peeta ©Lions Gate Entertainment
5. Peeta joining the Star Squad and Katniss telling him his favorite color, among other things: This scene brought tears to my eyes. Even though I know Katniss flees in this part in the novel, this is one moment that she could have broken character and just paused a little longer before fleeing to Gale's side. It was awkward when she plopped down next to Gale after that. But, I remember wanting to slap her at that part in the book, so I guess director Francis Lawrence was successful in capturing the emotions of that scene.

Katniss and Boggs ©Lions Gate Entertainment
The Holo ©Lions Gate Entertainment
6. Seeing what the "holo" looks like and how it works, finally: I had a hard time picturing the holo and the Capitol pods in the book, so I appreciated Boggs (Mahershala Ali) showing us. I also appreciated the pods correlating with those in the book. While many were left out, the important ones remained.

Terrifying Lizard Mutts ©Lions Gate Entertainment
7. The tunnels and lizard mutts: Though I hated, hated, hated seeing Finnick defeated, this sequence was intense and well done. I missed Peeta delivering the line about how valuable Pollux (Elden Henson) was, but it was an emotionally-charged moment with Castor (Wes Chatham), nonetheless. And those mutts...oh my gosh. Terrifying. Seriously horrifying.

Tigris ©Lions Gate Entertainment
8. Tigris' den: Her basement was how I imagined and I'm glad Gale and Peeta had the conversation about Katniss, though I don't think it had the same impact that scene delivered in the novel.

The girl in the lemon yellow coat ©Lions Gate Entertainment
9. The girl in the lemon yellow coat: Again, thank you Francis Lawrence for including these little details that mean a lot to the fans of the book. While movie-goers may not notice the symbolism, book-enthusiasts know anything yellow and child-like represents Primrose, also a yellow flower. (Just like Rue.) When the rebels gun her parents down, and then her, we realize that the rebels are just as ruthless as the Capitol Peacekeepers. The sense of foreboding is apparent; we know another innocent life is about to be taken.

Parachutes ©Lions Gate Entertainment
10. The "Capitol" parachutes, which are, of course, the rebels: While the book portrays the children as a shield to protect Snow, the movie shows a kinder side of him, telling the audience that the children should be saved first. I think it was smart to go that route. The movie also speeds up this moment like the book did; we barely have time to register what has happened when all of a sudden, there's Prim, then Boom. All is black. I wish the movie showed Katniss questioning why Prim was sent in as a medic, which would be another clue that Coin is evil. People who haven't read the book must rely solely on President Snow's words in the rose garden.

Katniss ©Lions Gate Entertainment
11. Katniss killing Coin: Yes, just as satisfying in the movie as it is in the book.

12. Crazy Cat: This is where the tears started rolling down my face. Just like in the book, Katniss's depression is all-consuming and it's not until she grieves with the stupid cat that both she and the reader (or, in this case, the viewer) begins to sob, as well. Is this moment as touching for those who haven't read the book? Probably not. 

13. The kids: Seeing Peeta and Katniss with their children, and Katniss delivering the acts of goodness (though I think she used kindness in the movie) routine and the "there are worse Games to play" line was definitely a satisfying end. That baby, though. She was cute, but not so sure about the casting of her. I know it's picky that I should be critical of a baby, but the girl was born first in the book. And they are both playing in the meadow at the end. It's fine to have a baby in this moment, but all I could think was that she didn't look like either one of them. 

SHOCKING MOMENT OF THE NIGHT:

What was that kiss between Haymitch and Effie!!?? Was definitely more than just a playful tease on Haymitch's part. The entire theater reacted in some way, either with a gasp of shock, a laugh, or an encouraging hoot. I was one of the gasps. My husband was one of the "bow-chicka-wow-wow" hoots.


COMPARING THE FINAL MOVIE TO MY PREDICTIONS...

Last year I wrote that there were 13 essential scenes from the book left (after MJ Part 1), and predicted whether they would make it into the second part or not. I'm surprised that many of my predictions were actually right or close. Here's an abridged version of what I wrote, with my comments reflecting on how it was portrayed:

1. Gale and Beetee's death traps: *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2* 
Yep, made it in.

2. Delly helping Peeta remember scenes: *PROBABLY WON'T MAKE THE CUT*
Yep, didn't make the cut. I thought it was appropriate that Prim filled that spot.

3. Finnick and Annie's Wedding: *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*
Yep, made it in, although it was such a brief scene.

4. Katniss and Johanna rooming and training together: *PROBABLY A MODIFIED VERSION*  Well, the modified version was basically Johanna stealing Katniss's morphine and talking at the wedding. I really wanted MORE Johanna, didn't you?

5. Star Squad 451 going to the Capitol: *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*
Yes, made it in, but the sequence was a little out of order and condensed. Peeta enters when both Leegs are still alive. But I thought it worked well for the movie.

6. Hiding at Tigris's: *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*
Again, a condensed version, but glad this part was included.

7. President Snow's wall of children protection: *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*  I do like how the children weren't necessarily a wall of protection, but were genuinely there to make sure the children first were safe.

8. Katniss' physical and mental trauma from the bombing: *PROBABLY A MODIFIED VERSION*  The deep depression was omitted and I really don't think the full-circle of how Katniss becomes her mother from Book 1 translates at all in the movie. This was a theme that just didn't translate as well as it could have. Maybe because it is subtle in the book (I usually have to prompt my students to realize she as become her mother), they felt it wouldn't translate to the screen.

9. Finding Snow in the rose garden: *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*
It had to be in there, right!?

10. The decision on whether or not to continue the Games with Capitol children: *PROBABLY WON'T MAKE THE CUT*  I was way off on this one. But I don't think this scene made much sense in the movie. I think they tried when all the victors (except Katniss) were in an uproar when the idea was brought up, then half voted for it. Katniss was the one whose mind was reeling that Coin would even suggest there be another Games. In this scene, she was silent and voted yes like she actually wanted another Games. It was so wrong in every single way. I wish they would have cut this part, because it showed us that Katniss didn't learn a single thing through her experience. People who have never read the book must be wondering what in the world is wrong with her? Did she learn NOTHING from her experience? Francis Lawrence, you really dropped the ball on that scene.

11. Katniss killing Coin instead of Snow: *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2*
This was an easy one.

12. Katniss being imprisoned in the Training Center for months while her trial takes place: *PROBABLY A MODIFIED VERSION*
Definitely cut short. And not having Plutarch escort Katniss home was so sad. Haymitch reading the letter just made it even worse. I think instead of the letter, they should have just reworked the lines for Haymitch. Plutarch was almost nonexistent in the movie anyway, so why not let Haymitch have his own lines? I don't think fans of the book would have cared. It was awkward hearing that letter.

13. Returning to District 12: Katniss becoming her mother: *MUST BE IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2* I'm glad they showed the Crazy Cat and Peeta coming back to plant the Primrose. And, of course, the kids. The depression wasn't really played up since Peeta came back sooner than in the book. Also, the scrap book was pretty much omitted and just a letter from Annie and a picture took its place. But, overall, I was satisfied with this resolution.

Classroom Connections: Have students write their own resolutions for unresolved characters

Here's a Classroom Connections activity: Have your students write their own resolutions for unresolved characters. For example, what happens to characters like Ceasar Flickerman, Tigris, Effie, and other Capitol citizens? What does Johanna do? Enobaria? Beetee? What kind of a president is Commander Paylor? Does Katniss's mother ever come back to see her grandchildren?

Students can speculate in a class discussion and/or write their own resolutions. 

For additional activities, see my pack for comparing the novel to the movie: Mockingjay Novel vs. Movie Activities It is completely aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

Mockingjay Novel vs. Movie Activities https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mockingjay-Book-vs-Movie-Activities-Common-Core-1548667

Hunger Games Lessons: Classroom Connections

11.18.2015

Mockingjay Part 2: I'm Ready; Are You?

Use in case of feels Kleenex for Mockingjay Part 2 from www.hungergameslessons.com
Use in case of feels: Mockingjay Part 2


Are you ready for the release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2? On the eve of the movie release, I thought I would prepare myself by stocking up on some purse-size Kleenex tissues. So I may be ready in that regard, but, emotionally? I think I'll be a wreck. How about you?

Make sure to stop back this weekend to read my review of the movie. And if you haven't entered for my giveaway for teachers, make sure you do. Enter HERE (or by clicking on the image below) to win lost of great teaching resources.

Enter the Mockingjay Part 2 Giveaway at www.HungerGamesLessons.com

11.15.2015

Mockingjay Part 2 Giveaway for Teachers


Mockingjay Part 2 Movie Release Giveaway for Teachers

Can you believe the final movie in The Hunger Games trilogy is released this week? These past five years have been unbelievable and I am so grateful for having the opportunity to share my passion for the books (and movies) with so many people. Thank you all for being such loyal followers, especially since I have slacked off quite a bit these past two years.

My THANKS to YOU!

To thank you, I am giving away these GREAT Hunger Games teaching materials. You can enter below using the Rafflecopter form. Gain more entries by following me on social media: 

And if you already own them and are chosen as a winner, I will let you choose something else from my store at equal or lesser value.

GIVEAWAY ENDS NOV. 26th at MIDNIGHT
WINNERS ANNOUNCED NOV. 27th

**WINNERS ANNOUNCED AT BOTTOM OF PAGE!**


THREE GRAND PRIZES:
The Hunger Games Trilogy Bundle

Three lucky winners will receive a flash drive with ALL of my 
Hunger Games Trilogy teaching resources!


ADDITIONAL PRIZES:

Three Movie vs. Novel Packs (One of each)

The Hunger Games Novel vs. the Movie Teaching PackCatching Fire Novel vs. the Movie Teaching PackMockingjay Novel vs. the Movie Teaching Pack


Three Hunger Games Trilogy Teaching Units (One of each)

The Hunger Games Teaching Unit (Digital Download) Catching Fire Novel Teaching Unit Mockingjay Novel Teaching Unit


The Hunger Games Add-On Bundle of Resources

The Hunger Games Teaching Unit Add-On Bundle


* Enter to win these great prizes today! *

You can also visit every single day to gain more entries. The giveaway ends at midnight Nov. 26th, so don't forget to stop back Nov. 27th to see if you won.


May the odds be ever in your favor.

Winners are:
Flash drives: Tyna, Kristin, Lisa
Teaching Units: Caley, Roisin, Ashley
Movie Packs: Kristina, Donna, and Heidi
Add-On Bundle: Dasha
Congrats & check your email for my message & instructions.

9.16.2015

An Ode to Suzanne Collins, Author of The Hunger Games Trilogy


Panem Propaganda: An Ode to Suzanne Collins


As the release for the final movie in The Hunger Games trilogy draws closer, my friends at Panem Propaganda have been counting down to Nov. 20th with their 100 Days of Mockingjay celebration for fans. This past week featured tributes to the novels and the author, Suzanne Collins.

To read my tribute to Suzanne Collins in my guest post, click here:

Thank You for the Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

Comment below on how the books may have inspired you, your students, your passion for teaching, or anything. What drew you in to the series? What do you like best about Collins' writing style?

Let's take a moment to thank the woman who created it all.

See Panem Propaganda for additional odes to the series and franchise, as well as opportunities to win awesome prize packages each week!

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