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Teaching Guide

Teaching The Giver

We'll give it to you straight.

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If The Giver teaches us anything, it's to be careful of what we're given. Blindly following orders is the fast track to dystopia, people. So while we're not telling you what to do here, we strongly suggest you use our teaching guide to bring The Giver to life.

In this guide you will find

  • an activity exploring how memories are transmitted, created, and preserved.
  • reading quizzes to be sure students persevere through this bleak dystopia. 
  • modern resources showing students how The Giver is still relevant today…mainly because the thing keeps getting banned.

So come on…take this teaching guide. We're not giving you a lethal injection, we swear; we're just giving you an amazing resource.

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  • 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
  • Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles.

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Instructions for You

Objective: Most kids love their birthdays. It's an occasion to receive presents and eat too much cake and strut around like a star. But how would they feel if they had to completely surrender their individuality and only celebrate communal birthdays, like the kids in The Giver?

Students will analyze our birthday rituals and compare them to the Ceremony that takes place in the Community. By doing this, they will try to get to the heart of the differing values that drive both societies. Then, they will work in groups to create a birthday Ceremony for children in their own community, complete with gifts that reflect the ideas and skills that they value.

Length of Lesson: This activity will take one class period to complete.

Materials Needed: 

  • Text of The Giver.

Step 1: Lead a discussion about the December Ceremony that takes place in Jonas' Community.

Here are some questions you could ask:

  • Why do they have a communal birthday celebration? 
  • What is the significance of the gifts that each child receives? 
  • How are they appropriate for each age?

In the Community, birthdays are stripped of the fun and nonsense, and are viewed purely as rites of passage. The poor kids even know in advance exactly what gift they'll receive each year. With your students, you'll discuss the gifts that each child receives in the book, and analyze how they reflect the values of that society. Then take a few minutes to talk about the birthday rituals of our society and what they reflect about our values. Finally, discuss the major similarities/differences between these societal approaches to birthdays and birthday parties.

Step 2: Now put the class into groups of four and ask each group to create a Birthday Ceremony (similar to the Ceremony in The Giver) for the students in their own school. The Ceremony should reflect the values that the group cherishes and wants to pass on. Some questions they should prepare answers to are:

  • What kinds of gifts would be given for each grade? 
  • What expectations would the students be handed as they received each gift?
  • When will the ceremony take place?
  • Describe the food, music, and clothes.
  • What would happen upon "graduation"?

Be sure to give the groups a specific time limit (say 20 minutes?) so they don't fritter away the rest of the class on this—you'll want to leave yourself with at least 10 minutes for Step 3 (and 15 would be better). 

Step 3: Have each group to present their ceremony ideas to the class.

(California Common Core Standards for English Language Arts: Grades 6, 7, 8
Key Ideas & Details [grades 6 &7] 1, 2 [grade 8] 2; Craft & Structure (grade 6) 5; Range of Reading 10; Text Types & Purposes 2, 3; Production & Distribution of Writing 4; Research to Build & Present Knowledge 9; Range of Writing 10; Comprehension & Collaboration 1; Presentation of Knowledge & Ideas 4, 6; Conventions of Standard English 1, 2; Knowledge of Language 3; Vocabulary Acquisition & Use 6. Grades 9 & 10 Key Ideas & Details 1, 2; Text Types and Purposes 2, 3; Production and Distribution of Writing 4; Research to Build & Present Knowledge 9; Range of Writing 10; Comprehension & Collaboration 1; Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas 4, 6; Conventions of Standard English 1,2; Vocabulary Acquisition and Use 3, 6.)

Instructions for Your Students

If you are like 99.9% of teenagers, you love your birthday. And what's not to love? It's an occasion to receive presents and eat too much cake and strut around like a star. Even if you've never wanted your Sweet 16 to be filmed and broadcast on MTV, you do probably enjoy doing your special thing on your special day—even if it's just sharing a slice of pizza with your bestie.

So how would you feel if you had to completely surrender your individuality and only celebrate communal birthdays, like the kids in The Giver? Feeling unique and cherished on your special day is half the fun, right?

In this activity, you will analyze our birthday rituals and compare them to the Ceremony that takes place in the Community. You will also work in groups to create a birthday Ceremony for children in your own community.

Step 1: With your teacher and classmates, discuss the December Ceremony that takes place in Jonas' Community.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Why do they have a communal birthday celebration? 
  • What is the significance of the gifts that each child receives? 
  • How are they appropriate for each age?

In the Community, birthdays are stripped of the fun and nonsense, and are viewed purely as rites of passage. The poor kids even know in advance exactly what gift they'll receive each year. You'll discuss the gifts that each child receives, and analyze how they reflect the values of that society. In contrast, what do the birthday rituals of our society reflect about our values?

Step 2: In groups of four, you will work to plan a Birthday Ceremony for the students in your own school. This Ceremony will reflect the values that the group cherishes and wants to pass on. Some questions you would prepare answers to are:

  • What kinds of gifts would be given for each grade? 
  • What expectations would the students be handed as they receive each gift?
  • When will the ceremony take place?
  • Describe the food, music, and clothes.
  • What would happen upon "graduation"?

Step 3: Now present your ceremony ideas to the class! Discuss the similarities and differences between the ideas the various groups came up with.

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Common Core Standards  

The following standards are covered in this course:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6

WANT MORE HELP TEACHING THE GIVER?

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Intro    Summary    Themes    Quotes    Characters    Analysis    Questions    Quizzes    Flashcards    Best of the Web    Write Essay    
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