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"The Hunger Games" teaches students real life lessons
A popular book series has promoted a love of reading for seventh grade students at Westmoor Middle School.
Seventh grade teacher Jodi Coplan won a grant to purchase copies of “The Hunger Games” for students, teacher Joan Bucy said. The book was added to the seventh grade curriculum.
Coplan said students could not wait to read the book every day. Students even postponed an ice cream party in February so they could finish reading the story.
“They don’t want to miss class,” Coplan said. “They want to know what is going on.”
Coplan stumbled across the “Hunger Games,” four years ago when a student encouraged her to read it.
It has been exciting to see the intrigue in the book, Coplan said. Several students have already started on the sequel. She has several copies of the second book and there is a waiting list, she added.
“I have kids who come in every day and ask if the book was returned yet,” she said. “They are next on the list.”
Coplan said she enjoys the expressions on student’s faces. They are engaged the whole time, she said. They eagerly anticipate who is going to survive and if the heroine really loves her fellow competitor.
As reward for their hard work, teachers are taking students to see the “The Hunger Games” in theatres on March 23. They are raising money to help pay for buses.
After watching the film, students will compare and contrast the book with the movie.
“The Hunger Games” tells the story of the world decimated by world war. There are only 12 functional districts and the Capitol. As punishment for the uprising against the Capitol, every year the districts are required to send two children to the Hunger Games where they fight to death.
The heroine is a girl named Katniss Everdeen who becomes a symbol of hope and freedom for the impoverished districts.
“The kids can associate with these characters,” Bucy said. “The characters face real situations, being poor and coming up against districts that are very wealthy.”
There are also moral lessons throughout the book, Bucy said.
Students also relate the “Hunger Games” to their social studies classes. They are studying ancient Rome and made the connection that the Roman Colosseum is similar to the book’s arena.
“They have made connections through the whole book,” Coplan said.
Students also created storyboards. They selected pictures from magazines to represent their understanding of the book. Students who had a more difficult time visualizing the characters watched the movie trailer to get ideas.
“We tried to get them to think what it is going to be like in the future, post world war, no more United States,” Coplan said. “Could this actually happen?”
Westmoor Middle School is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) school so the book opened up a discussion about energy and how it plays in the story, Bucy said.
“There is a nothingness outside the districts,” she said. “What caused this? What measures do we take so this doesn’t happen? I will be dead in 74 years. They could potentially still be alive.”
Students are excited to be seeing the movie, Bucy said. The school must pay $150 for each bus and are looking for some funding for transportation. There are more than 150 seventh graders going to the movie. The field trip was financed through grants and private donations.
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