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Teachers are Givers Week 3 Winner … Karen Niegelsky!


Karen-NiegelskyThis week we reached an all-time high for submissions for the Teachers are Givers contest, both in number and in quality. We are so grateful to all who entered, it was a pleasure to read your unique ideas for teaching The Giver. But the results are in, and our winner for Week 3 is Karen Niegelsky of Canterbury School in Greensboro, North Carolina!

Karen asks her 6th grade humanities students to compare the Community in The Giver with ancient civilizations and cultures, and then to take that knowledge and come up with digital models of their own new civilizations. The students use apps like Padlet to do their research and then get creative to make commercials selling their classmates on the value of their own communities. We don’t need to see the commercial for “Pizzaland” to know we would like to visit!

What set Karen’s entry apart for our judges was how she tied The Giver into broad themes from history. This activity is a great way to lead students into conversations about what values are essential in culture, and how the Community in The Giver is a perfect example of what a lack of balance in a society can lead to. She does not start off telling her students that the Community is a dystopia, she lets them come to that conclusion on their own.

Read Karen’s full entry below, and check out her bio in the Teacher Hall of Fame. You can also follow her on Twitter!

And don’t forget that the Teachers are Givers contest is open until Friday, June 27, and there is no limit on submissions, so keep them coming! Next week we will have a vote for the best of the four ideas, and that educator will win a hometown screening for their friends and family!

“Criteria of a Community”

I’ve been teaching The Giver in my sixth grade humanities class for quite a few years and like to have my students compare Jonas’s community in The Giver to early humans’ attempts to create their own communities. One digital tool that my students enjoy using for this task is Padlet. Students collaborate online to compare and contrast ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, and Greece by examining the seven characteristics for determining whether a culture is civilized: a stable food supply, social structure, governmental system, religion, arts and culture, technology, and a written/spoken language. They then use what they’ve learned about the Community in The Giver and those in ancient cultures to create digital models for civilizations of their own by making video commercials that attempt to sell their classmates on the merits of these societies. Previous projects have included “Roller Coaster World,” “Shoptopia,” and “Pizzaland.”

The primary objectives of this lesson are to have the students:

a) Determine whether the Community in The Giver meets the criteria of a civilization by using prior knowledge,

b) come to a better understanding of the setting, theme, and plot of The Giver using what the students learn through their study of ancient cultures and through their work on creating communities of their own, and

c) use cutting edge technology (including free apps!) to accomplish and enhance these goals.