I believe science fiction has always induced human mind to pursue scientific aims considered only hypothetical before. I am a teacher of English as a foreign language at a secondary school (students aged 11-19), and I have always tried to inspire my learners to engage more thoroughly with STEM subjects using science fiction stories
(abridged at times, depending on their level of English).
Isaac Asimov is one of my favourite science fiction authors, and what I best admire about him is his never-ending enthusiasm, but also his ability to make us readers see the world from a different point of view while exploring concepts of society and technology with all their consequences.
I have prepared a learning unit
on "I, Robot", supported by tasks to be done on the computer connected to the Internet available here: http://susanisaacandtherobots.weebly.com/
. Various activities come together to integrate technology in the classroom
. I have devised the tasks with great care, and I am set to keep adding to the site to make it even more useful. A wide array of apps
have been used so far to develop the activities presented, such as: Padlet, Answer Garden, Hot Potatoes, My Language Exchange, Study Stack, Word Art, Learning Apps, Jigsaw Planet.
The scheme comprises pre- and post-reading activities
. The students are asked to work as a whole class, in groups, in pairs or individually. The objectives range from improving each of the 4 main skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), opening towards creative thinking, encouraging critical thinking
to increasing familiarity with vocabulary items for meaning-making, understanding the importance of key-words, recreational problem solving, expressing opinions
and bridging the gap between work and play
All the 16 activities of the learning unit are described in the Teacher’s Guide I am attaching. In short, my ideas for the Scientix competition
are as follows:
As a lead-in activity, students go to http://susanisaacandtherobots.weebly.com/unravel-a-puzzle.html
and individually move the pieces of the puzzle to position them in relation to one another to have them connect and form the cover of the first edition of the “I, Robot” collection. Next, students bounce ideas off one another and seek information, explanations and advice about the Frankenstein complex nowadays. Isaac Asimov said he wrote the stories in order to get away from the Frankenstein complex – the worry that technology (especially robots) would destroy humanity. Does this complex still exist today? Are people still afraid of technology and what it might lead to? Students provide examples, descriptions, predictions etc. Next, students go to http://susanisaacandtherobots.weebly.com/girls-in-science.html
and collect examples of names of women scientists and women writers (science fiction was invented by a woman, Mary Shelley...) in the real world, and interesting women characters in fiction. They also add descriptions of life and achievements, pictures, links etc.
In pairs, students pick a scene from the framing narrative and act it out.
Next, they go to http://susanisaacandtherobots.weebly.com/about-robbie.html
and individually solve a crosswords puzzle by filling in empty spaces with words that best complete the summary of the story “Robbie”. After that, they each imagine they are Gloria, Mrs Weston or Mr Weston and write a thank-you note to Mr Struthers a day after the Westons’ visit at US Robots following their reading of famous thank-you notes here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/29959/11-amazing-thank-you-notes-famous-people
To get the summary of the story “Reason”, students go to http://susanisaacandtherobots.weebly.com/about-reason.html
and individually fill in each gap with the most suitable words.
Students then practise writing monologues – Gregory Powell’s thoughts when Michael Donovan left to get their spacesuits so that they could enter the mine in “Catch that rabbit”.
Students then go to http://susanisaacandtherobots.weebly.com/about-evidence.html
and each uses the cards to study/recall “Evidence” with auto play, and then plays to see how many they know by putting them in the Know
or Don't know
Students go to http://susanisaacandtherobots.weebly.com/the-three-laws.html
to see a model of a word cloud, then go to WordArt https://wordart.com/
and individually turn the 3 robot laws into a visually stunning word cloud of their own.
Students then go to http://susanisaacandtherobots.weebly.com/robots-and-humans.html
and individually match characters and descriptions.
Next they go to http://susanisaacandtherobots.weebly.com/favourite-robot.html
and individually vote for their favourite robot.
Students go to http://susanisaacandtherobots.weebly.com/play-hangman.html
and individually play Hangman to guess a verb invented by Isaac Asimov.
As a whole class discussion, students talk about how different people deal with science and the unknown, and then about the connections nowadays between science and the world of work and daily life.
In groups, as a wrap-up task, students search for YouTube video clips that could stand proof to Isaac Asimov’s premonition that children in the 21st century might form intense emotional attachments to electronics, like in “Robbie”, and present their findings to the class.
I hope you like my ideas and will use my site with your students.