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Lesson Plan by Lauren Martin M.Ed.

Elements of Dystopia

Pixton Lesson Plan on Elements of Dystopia

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Featured Layouts

When students complete the activities in this lesson plan, they will use the following comic layout types.

  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map
  • Graphic Novel

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Pixton Lesson Plan on Elements of Dystopia
Pixton Lesson Plan on Elements of Dystopia
This free, printable Pixton lesson plan brings literary devices to life with comics and storyboards.

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Elements of Dystopia

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Teacher Guide

Elements of Dystopia

Step 1Class discussion with students

Getting Started

Before learning the word dystopia students must first understand the word utopia.

  • Utopia: The ideal society. Everything is perfect or heavenly. Examples include the Garden of Eden, Atlantis, and many stories of the Golden Age and Enlightenment.
  • Dystopia: The opposite of a utopia, a dystopia is a corrupt, oppressed, and miserable place. It often appears perfect at first glance, when in reality it lacks justice and freedom. Examples include The Giver, The Hunger Games, Ender's Game, and Divergent.

In Greek, the root "topia" means "place," while "u" means either "good" or "not." Utopia can, therefore, be interpreted as a good place or a place that does not exist. The Greek root "dys" means bad, so dystopia is translated as a bad place.

Opening Discussion

How do you decide if a book or movie is about a dystopian society?

There are six elements of every dystopia:

  1. Uniformity/Sameness

    • Every person in the society looks the same and leads similar lives. People must conform to strict policies of uniformity. Often, houses, clothes, lifestyles, beliefs, professions, and relationships are all kept relatively uniform.
  2. No Free Will/Independent Thought

    • Similarly, individuals are not allowed to exercise their free will. Individuals are under constant surveillance, and they are punished for independent thoughts and actions.
  3. Corrupt Government/Propaganda

    • A corrupt leader or government demands to be worshipped and obeyed by its citizens. The government uses propaganda to brainwash its citizens to obey its leaders, conform to society, and fear the evils and dangers of the natural, outside world.
  4. Segregation/Unequal Power

    • The majority of the population lives in a dehumanized state of squalor, while an elite few have knowledge and power. People are segregated into groups with different roles and unequal access to power.
  5. Perfect Exterior Hides Evil Secret

    • The society seems to be a well-intentioned utopia until an evil truth is revealed.
  6. Unexpected Hero
    • The protagonist is always an unlikely leader of a revolution, lacking obvious strength, experience, power, or even values. Yet the unlikely hero discovers the evil truth beneath their reality, and decides to rebel against it. They usually struggle with their own conscience and confidence in themselves before they are able to overthrow or escape their dystopian society.
Step 2Pixton comic-making activities
  • Make a Storyboard or Mind Map
    Define Elements of a Dystopia

    Complete after opening discussion.

    View Activity
  • Make a Storyboard or Mind Map
    Identify Elements of a Dystopia

    Complete after class discussion.

    View Activity
  • Make a Storyboard or Mind Map
    Create Your Own Dystopia

    View Activity
  • Extension / Modification
    Graphic Novel (Extension / Modification)

    Students will depict the six elements of a dystopia by creating their own dystopian story in a Graphic Novel.

Step 3Concluding discussion with students

Discuss the following questions:

  • Has there ever been a utopian community in real life? If yes, what makes the community a utopia?
  • What factors prevent your current community from being a true utopia?
  • Is a utopia even possible? Why or why not? Explain how a utopia could be created or why it would be impossible.
  • Has there ever been a dystopian society in real life? If yes, what makes the society a dystopia?
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Pixton Activity: Elements of Dystopia 1 Define Elements of a Dystopia

Featured Layouts

  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map

Intro

Three effective memory tools include rewriting important concepts in your own words, creating mental images of those concepts, and relating concepts to real-world examples. Commit the six elements of a dystopia to memory by writing and drawing the meaning of each element, and giving examples of each element from a novel or film.

Review the descriptions of the six elements of a dystopia from the opening discussion.

  1. Uniformity/Sameness

  2. No Free Will/Independent Thought

  3. Corrupt Government/Propaganda

  4. Segregation/Unequal Power

  5. Perfect Exterior Hides Evil Secret

  6. Unexpected Hero

Instructions

Create a 6 panel Mind Map or Storyboard that summarizes the six elements of a dystopia.

  • Identify the element in the panel title.
  • Write a detailed description of the element using an example of the element from a story.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Example Mind Map

Elements of a Dystopia by Student
Mind MapSix Dystopian Elements in
"The Hunger Games"
Uniformity/SamenessEvery person in the society leads similar lives. People must conform to strict policies of uniformity: In District 12, everyone must choose between a limited number of jobs and eat a limited amount of similar food. All of their clothing and houses look the same. No Free Will/IndependenceThere is no free will. Individuals are under constant surveillance, and are punished for independent thoughts and actions. A helicopter searches for, shoots at, and punishes Katniss when she hunts in the forest outside of her designated District 12. Corrupt Government/PropagandaA corrupt leader demands to be worshipped and obeyed by his citizens. He uses propaganda to brainwash his citizens to obey, conform and fear: President Snow shows his Propaganda film, the Panem Address, to all 12 districts. Segregation/Unequal PowerPeople are segregated with different roles and unequal access to power. The majority of the population lives in a dehumanized state of squalor: District one and two are wealthy and powerful, while districts three through twelve have little money or power. Perfect Exterior Hides Evil SecretThe society seems to be a utopia until an evil truth is revealed: Contrary to propaganda, President Snow has evil motives behind the current "peace." He wears roses to hide the smell of blood from the sores he has from using poison to prevent an uprising. Unexpected HeroThe protagonist is an unlikely leader, lacking obvious strength, experience or power. They have little confidence in their own ability and even in their own conscience: Katniss is just a girl from the poorest District in Panem but she becomes the leader of the revolution.

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Pixton Activity: Elements of Dystopia 2 Identify Elements of a Dystopia

Featured Layouts

  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map

Intro

Review the six elements of a dystopia from the opening discussion.

Instructions

Create a 6 panel Mind Map or Storyboard that summarizes the six elements of a dystopia for a novel or film discussed in class:

  • Identify the element in the panel title.
  • Write a detailed description of the element from the story.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: Elements of Dystopia 3 Create Your Own Dystopia

Featured Layouts

  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map

Intro

Students will create their own dystopian society, outlining the six elements of their dystopia.

Instructions

Create your own dystopia using a Mind Map or Storyboard:

  • Include the six elements of a dystopia.
  • Identify the element in the panel titles.
  • Write a detailed description of each element of your creative story.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

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