Beverley Paine

South Australian Children's Author

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Literature Unit Study

Permission granted for use in classrooms and homeschools for personal use only.

This Literature Study is a means of organising reading and writing activities to study The Chimaera Conspiracy in depth. The unit includes 38 detailed, structured and student-generated forms of reader response to the novel. Once completed, the students will understand the background and situations of the novel and be able to identify the underlying themes as they apply to all people.

The Chimaera Conspiracy raises contemporary scientific, biomedical and environmental concerns and issues. This unit encourages students to focus on real-world political and social situations similar to the events in the story as well as the literary elements of the novel.

The objectives of the unit are as follow:

  • Predict (who, when, where and what will happen) based on analysis of the title and cover of a novel, and continuously predict while reading.
  • Visualise story scenes.
  • Infer character's traits from their actions.
  • Compare events, characters, and places found in a novel.
  • Infer time and place.
  • Hypothesise reasons and relationships.
  • Relate reader's own feelings to those of a story character.
  • Use context to figure out the meanings of unfamiliar story words.
  • Use story words new to readers to talking and writing about the story.
  • Create writing topics based on the reading of a book.
  • Rehearse and draft in response to reading.
  • Edit and revise what they have written in preparation for sharing.
  • Keep a literature response journal and highlight their writing in a portfolio.
  • Write a friendly letter in standard form.
  • Work in collaborative groups and contribute to a whole-class discussion.
  • Read aloud from a story, using the voice to heighten meaning.
  • Integrate quotations and citations into written text.
  • Write technical document.
  • Write responses to literature.
  • Write an analysis.
  • Employ strategies to analyze a piece of literature.
  • Show an understanding of the significance of symbolism.
  • Respond to literature using interpretive, critical and evaluative processes.
  • Identify types of proofs that meet standards tests for evidence, including credibility, validity and relevance.
  • Engage in reading and reviewing independently and cooperatively, through discussion, responding in written and visual presentations using various media, including information technology sources and interviewing.
  • Evaluate their own written work, including use of proof checklists for editing.
  • Compares the structures of media texts; narrative, setting, sequence of events, climax/high point of action, conclusion, etc.
  • Identify language features such as cliche, jargon, elements of description, metaphors, similes.

Ongoing Assessment Activities

Students will keep a literature response journal in which they record their ongoing responses to what they are reading. They will compile a portfolio of writings and drawings to showcase their response to the novel. While students are reading alone or with a buddy, the teacher conducts individual conferences in which each student talks about personal responses to the novel and his or her independent reading and literature journal entries. Teacher conducts ongoing assessment and analysis of students' literature logs that they have revised, edited, published and showcased in their portfolios. Assessment is based on checklists of stated objectives or rubrics with descriptors and criteria to demonstrate mastery of certain features of writing and content.

Activities

  1. Some people consider the cover of a novel of paramount importance - it is what attracts and compels a reader in the first instance. There are several elements to the cover: the illustration; title; author's name; size, font and placing of words, back cover 'blurb'; publisher and other details.
  2. Using prior knowledge and ideas using key words to predict characters, time, place, and plot based on cover clues.
  3. Research the meaning of the title word "chimaera". Present your findings as an oral report.
  4. Rate the cover of The Chimaera Conspiracy with other novels you have read - in the same age group, genre, against any book you have read.
  5. List what attracted you to the novel in the first place.
  6. Design an alternative cover and blurb.
  7. Select and listen to, or record an original piece of music that you believe reflects the nature or themes in the story.
  8. The opening pages are crucially important in any story. They set the stage for the rest of the story and entice the reader into the story. How can you tell where the story is set and when?
  9. Illustrate one or more scenes from the opening chapter.
  10. Record character profiles as you read - include aspects such as gender, full name, place of birth, details or parents and family, present and past address, education, employment, hobbies, handicaps, any past or present illnesses, height, hair colouring, distinguishing features, clothing preference, favourite expressions, attitudes, etc.
  11. Draw up a relationship tree between all the characters.
  12. As you read or listen to the story, infer character traits from what people say and do. Are the characters consistent?
  13. How believable are the characters? Discuss your reasons for your answers.
  14. Pick a character and write a short description (300 words) describing that character alone, but engaged in some typical, simple or familiar activity. Use the activity to further reveal one or more aspects of character, through action, thoughts, emotions, interior monologue, or to reveal a new, but complementary element of character not used in the novel.
  15. Make a chart of unfamiliar and interesting words you encounter in the story. If you don't know the meaning look up in a dictionary and record with your entry.
  16. Write a brief summary of the novel (approximately 150 words).
  17. Pretend you are Katya and write a letter to a friend while travelling on the shuttle, or just after you've arrived at the dome.
  18. Write a review of the novel for your class magazine (approximately 300 words). Take a look at Sally's review for ideas.
  19. Science fiction usually contains elements of futuristic technology. Identify some used in the novel and illustrate them.
  20. Compare this book with other science fiction books you have read. Rate against these other books and discuss how it is similar or different. Identify what you liked or didn't like about the story.
  21. Pretend you are a young person living in the year 2024. What would be different in your neighbourhood? Write a short story of between 1000-3000 words about your life - perhaps a day in your life or a special event. Be sure to show how has life changed from the present - general living conditions, hardships, social conditions, culture and traditions, etc.
  22. Identify and write a time-line or diary of the main events in the story.
  23. All stories contain conflict - this is what keeps the reader enticed, the need to find out what happens next and how the conflict is resolved. What are the main problems faced by the characters in the story? How do they solve these problems? How do these problems affect the characters actions and decisions? Identify elements of conflict in The Chimaera Conspiracy and summarise.
  24. Pick any chapter and write an alternative continuing chapter in your own style. Extract evidence from the story to support alternative outcomes of the conflict.
  25. Draw a map of Katya's adventures showing locations.
  26. Use maps, exhibits, dioramas or other artifacts to display and discuss geographical context and cultural features from the setting and plot of the story.
  27. Katya, Coen and Edan possess special abilities in the novel. What are these and how did they develop? Each of them discovers their abilities differently, and as a result develop different strengths and characteristics. Write a few paragraphs telling how each of the characters can further develop and use their abilities.
  28. Mystery is an important element of many novels, and is built carefully through the use of suspense. What clues did the author give you to help you solve the mystery? Did the author do anything to throw you off the track? How was the mystery solved and by whom? Did you solve the mystery before it was solved in the story, and if so, what clues gave it away and did it affect how you read the rest of the novel? Do you think the events in the book were realistic? Could such things really happen? Were there questions still unanswered at the end of the novel? Record any unanswered questions and pose possible answers .
  29. Pick two or more characters and chart the relationship between characters; from their initial encounter with each other in the novel to the conclusion. Discuss the possible causes of the changes in characters and their relationships; identify similes or metaphors used as clues to changes in the characters.
  30. The Chimaera Conspiracy doesn't use chapter titles. Why do you think the author decided against this. Devise your own titles for each chapter and explain why you picked them.
  31. Dolphins feature largely in The Chimaera Conspiracy. Research information about dolphins in relation to uses with therapeutic medicine, communication and other sciences, and discuss the credibility of the use of the dolphins within the story. Present as a report or project.
  32. Select a high point in one of the latter chapters. Trace the development of this conflict through each of the previous chapters building up to this point and show as a flow chart. How important is continuity and credibility to developing believable conflict?
  33. Review the story by role-playing or acting out the story. Dramatise any section of the novel - write a screen play or theatre script based on the novel. What elements need to change? What props will be needed? How many acts and actors?
  34. Predict and outline what a sequel might be like or write chapter one of a sequel.
  35. Produce a class product to reflect responses to the book such as a mural, an art show, a poetry reading, a class newspaper, a play based on the book, and so forth.
  36. In a sense, The Chimaera Conspiracy is a story about the ethics of human genetic engineering, cloning and the use of human embryos for medical therapeutic reasons. Research the topic, through current affairs and media sources, to report on current developments. Is a ban on human cloning necessary? What is the Australian Government, or overments around the world, doing to control the safe and ethical use of this technology? Demonstrate comprehension of the issues by creating a series of visual aids which support your conclusions.
  37. Design a questionairre and interview other people who have read this book. Prepare a summary of the results of the questions and then a short book report for publication.
  38. Identify any symbolic elements or repeated motifs used in the novel. Hypothesise why the author chose these elements and discuss their overall effect.

cover: Perry Mallet

AUD$3.50

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