Out of all the lesson plans I’ve had to create this semester, I found this one the most challenging. I had never heard or read the book Feed by Matthew Anderson, I’m not a fan of teaching dystopian books because I personally don’t enjoy reading them, and I like teaching more creative writing then I do theory. However, I did find it helpful to do all of these things I don’t like because it challenged me to look beyond what I usually stick with and learn to teach things I don’t particularly like.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed the novel and as I read I highlighted the figurative language I found and the literary elements I stumbled upon. I found multiple uses of foreshadowing, tone, symbolism, and much more. I also found myself thinking as I read that I would want to point out to students the unique way it’s written and how it shows the characters’s voice more than the writer’s.
When creating the 10 day lesson plan I decided to teach based on Ecocriticism since this was a main element seen throughout the entire book. I found movie clips from WALLE that would help teach this theory, an article by Elon Musk, and a frighteningly accurate poem called Dawn of the Algorithm by Yann Rousselot. I paced these companion pieces throughout the ten days and connected it all to the summative assessment of having students pick a theme from Feed that interests them. They were to use the companion pieces I provided and we even spent a day learning how to cite each of the sources. I also spent a day teaching the students how to organize their information into a well written essay.
I let them choose a theme and not a particular one I picked out because it’s important for students to learn that there can be multiple themes in a book. Their job is to defend the theme they found with evidence from the work itself. If they can’t find any evidence then it shows me they either don’t know what a theme is or they did not read the book.
My favorite day of the unit was teaching the poem Dawn of the Algorithm and discussing how it connected with the dystopian style of Feed. I thought the poem was very interesting, and yet disturbing in the way it so accurately described the algorithm we face today. I thought it was also important to help students connect the two descriptions of the algorithm in works written years apart, Feed being written in 2001 and Dawn of the Algorithm written in 2015.
However, as with every plan there’s room for improvement. For my 10-day lesson plan on Feed I’d change how much silent reading I had them do during the class period, and I’d pace out the assigned reading to make it feel less rushed. I also would add more first-draft reading exercises, especially the day we read the poem. I think it’s possible to teach this unit in 10 days, but it also puts a rush on a novel that is very complex despite its conversational text style. Overall, I believe the novel and companion pieces were wonderful tools to help students really focus on thematic elements connected through various mediums.