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Literature Suggestions

Suggestions for Reading and Discussing the LiteratureThis section of the parallel ELA unit gives teachers activity and resource ideas to use with the three suggested science fiction books.


  1. The students will develop their knowledge of the features of science fiction by reading and comparing science fiction stories and novels.
  2. The students will develop critical reading skills (analyzing, evaluating, synthesizing) by using a variety of reading strategies to interpret meaning in science fiction.
  3. The students will communicate their views and opinions on a topic by reading science fiction and responding to the themes, events, and concepts orally and/or in writing.


Standards addressed will depend on which activities you select

LA.9.2.1; LA.10.2.1

LA.9.3.1, LA.9.3.4;   LA.10.3.2-LA.10.3; LA.11.3.1-LA.11.3.3; LA.12.3.1-LA.12.3.2

LA.9.4.1-LA.9.4.4;   LA.10.4.1-LA.10.4.2; LA.11.4.1-LA.11.4.2; LA.12.4.1-LA.12.4.2

LA.9.5.2-LA.9.5.4;   LA.10.5.2-LA.10.5.3; LA.11.5.1-LA.11.5.3; LA.12.5.1-LA.12.5.2

LA.9.7.2-9.7.4; LA.10.7.2-10.7.3

LA.9.6.1; LA.10.6.1, LA.10.6.3; LA.11.6.1; LA.12.6.1

Many activities in these lessons also address the ELA Common Core Standards for Reading:Literature - grades 9-12

Discuss features of science fiction. This science fiction link can be used to guide your discussion.

Keep a chart with the following categories to compare features of SF and fill it in as the selected literature is read: (TR)

  • Futuristic Setting or Alternate History
  • Theme (philosophical, ethical, or moral issues)
  • Characters that are not Human
  • Plausible Science/Technology
  • Evidence of Dystopia

Selected Literature

I Robot by Isaac Asimov
A summary of the short stories in the collection can be found by following this LINK.

Reading Asimov’s Short Story Collection
Lexile Level – 820  (typical lexile range for students in grade 9-12 is 855- 1210 so this book should be at the independent reading level for most of your students.)


  • Decide how long you want to give students to read the collection of short stories and create a reading schedule.
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  • As the students read, ask them to use sticky notes to make connections, react to the text, ask questions, and note unfamiliar vocabulary.
  • Have students meet daily in a small literature circles (4-5 students) to discuss the reading and share their sticky notes.
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  • Assess comprehension through periodic quizzes and journal entries.
  • You might also consider setting up a classroom literature discussion blog.

After students have read the collection of short stories have them do any of the following activites:

  • Break the class into eight groups of 3-4 (based on class size).
  • Assign each group one of the first 8 stories in I,Robot ( Do not use “The Evitable Conflict”).  Below are some suggested group activities.

Have students….

  • take the roles of the characters in the story and act out a scene from the story.
  • stage a news show and interview either the robot or the robot and main characters.
  • discuss in their groups how Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics influenced the conflict and the resolution in their story.
  • design a book jacket for the story. Mold a large sheet of white construction paper around a book the size you want to make the book jacket pattern. (This may also be an individual project.)
    • Design the front cover.  The cover should reflect the main theme of the story and include the story title, author, and cover illustrated by ____.
    • Write a short summary on the back that encourages others to read the story.
    • Write reviewer (group) comments on one side flap.
    • Write a short biography of the author on the other side flap.
    • Write the title and author on the spine.

Ask students to reread the last story in I, Robot.

  • Using the Think-Pair-Share strategy discuss why Asimov wrote this story.  Why was it the last story in the collection?  What message or final thoughts was Asimov intending to leave with the reader?
  • Susan Calvin believes we’re in good hands with robots in control since they are programmed not to do anything to harm humanity. Do you agree with Susan Calvin?   Write a response to this question and explain your position in detail.
Have students analyze the effectiveness of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics in fiction and in real life. What problems would the original Three Laws present in today’s robotics industry? Do our technology industries follow the Three Laws? Give examples. Have the students rewrite the Three Laws of Robotics for today’s robotics and technology industries.Resources

Assessment Opportunities:

Class participation
Group interactions
Scoring rubric for book jacket (TR)
Written answers to discussion questions may also be used.
See THIS LINK for discussion question suggestions.

Additional Resources

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

  • The Lexile Level on this book is unknown but it can be estimated at between 1200-1300.  Because of the higher Lexile Level and the complexity of the themes in this book, it is recommended for 11th-12th grade students and stronger 10th grade students.
  • Suggestions made for reading I, Robot can be used with this book.  However, because of the deeper themes in the book, you may want to consider having groups read and discuss some of the chapters together.  Good discussion questions can be found at this link.
  • Clary Carleton has developed a very comprehensive unit for this book for the Yale National Institute.  Check out this link for some suggestions that are sure to challenge students’ higher level thinking skills on a variety of themes.

After students have read the book, select from any of the following activities:

  • Compare the robot-human relationship in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? with those in I,Robot. This can be done with a simple VENN diagram or comparison chart or it could be done as a written essay.
  • The importance of the human quality of empathy is a reoccurring theme in this book.  Discuss the meaning of empathy. Write a good definition of empathy. Find examples in the novel that illustrate the absence of empathy in androids.  Then find examples that illustrate the presence of empathy in man.  Write about three experiences in your life when you’ve been empathetic.
  • The terms robot, humanoid, and android are often used interchangeably.  Define each word. What is the meaning of the term “android” as used in this novel?   How are robots, humanoid robots, and androids the same?  Different?
  • Write an essay on what it means to be human. What makes us human? How are we different from other animals? Is empathy the distinguishing quality that makes us human? What does it mean to be inhumane?  Are all humans empathetic?
  • Have a four corner “debate” on the statement, “Man should develop robots that are programmed to be empathetic.”  
  • The activities presented above relate to the robot theme of the “Robot Invasion” unit.  For activities that explore other themes in this novel, go to the links listed in “Additional Resources” below.

Assessment Opportunities:

  • Group activities (VENN comparisons, definition of empathy)
  • Essay (use district writing rubric)
  • Observation - small group participation, preparation for reading assignment
  • Book Quiz - links to quizzes
  • (This is a very simple quiz - explicit questions that all students should be able to answer if they read the book. Can be taken online.)  (Combination of multiple choice and essay questions)

Additional Resources

  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  • High School unit plan using Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and the movie, Blade Runner.
  • Another link with discussion questions.
  • Highlights of the main themes and events in each chapter in a bulleted list. This is a good link to refresh your memory of what happened in each chapter.
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick.  Go to this link for a summary.

The Veldt

The Veldt from The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
A summary of the short stories in the collection can be found at this LINK.

Reading The Veldt
The Lexile Level for stories in The Illustrated Man is unknown but The Veldt should be an independent read for most high school students. Suggestions made for reading I, Robot can be used with this book.

Activities for The Veldt

  • Characterization, Analytical Thinking                                                                                            
  • Break the students into groups of 4 and have them develop a literary sociogram for this story. Groups present their sociogram to the class and explain rationale for the way the relationships are shown.
  • Discuss Author’s Purpose -
    • Why does Bradbury open his story with dialogue about the nursery?
    • Why does he use the nursery as the main setting for disastrous events?
    • Define the term “foreshadowing”.  Find at least three examples where Bradbury uses foreshadowing in The Veldt.  How did the use of foreshadowing affect the story?
    • What message do you think Bradbury intended to give readers in this story?
  • Contrast what the nursery was to the children with what it was to the parents.
  • Contrast Bradbury’s views on the use of machines and technology with Asimov’s and Dick’s.
  • Change the Veldt setting in the nursery to something else.  Rewrite the story using that setting.
  • Write an essay about the impact technology has on our lives. Should we continue to develop machines that will do things for us?  How will our lives change as our homes become more and more automated?  Should we fear machines? Are we headed in the same direction as the Hadleys in the story, The Veldt?  What do humans need to be happy?
  • Have an informal debate on the question, “Do you think George and Lydia were right in their decision to close the nursery?”

Assessment Suggestions

  • Written assignments - Essay, adapted short story
  • Group sociogram
  • Observation of group interaction, preparation for daily reading
  • Teacher made quiz on story

Additional Resources
In-depth analysis of The Veldt

Biography of Ray Bradbury

Read the other stories in Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man.
There are many opportunities for in depth discussion about social, ethical, and philosophical issues.

What's Next?> I Robot Goes Graphic

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