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Ready-Set-Tech: An Incredible Journey: Exploring Brave New Worlds
An Incredible Journey: Exploring Brave New Worlds

This project is designed to work in concert with Aldous Huxley's dystopic novel, Brave New World. The purpose of the project is to engage the students in a meaningful way that merely reading and discussing the book cannot. Working alone, students will perform guided research on topics such as: the production and consumption ideas of Henry Ford, Pavlov's and Skinner's behavioral science work, and the existence of utopian (Robert Owen's New Lanark, The Oneidan Perfectionists) and dystopian (Cambodia under Pol Pot, Nazi Germany, Rwanda) societies throughout history.

This project also provides students with the opportunity to express and explore what they have learned from Huxley's novel, their research, and their reflection on their own lives through the form of a research/literature-based creative writing assignment. Perhaps most importantly, the students use the i-classroom on Nicenet.org. The Nicenet classroom is a crucial component
in that it fosters dialogue between teacher and student in a way that
engages even the shy, quiet students. It also serves as a platform to
expose student thought visually, which encourages thoughtful response.

Luke Janka

Luke Janka teaches English at the high school level in the New York City public school system. He has taught for four years in the alternative school model. He has been a teacher for the past two years at Humanities Preparatory Academy, a small progressive transfer school that serves a very "at-risk" population from a wide economic, social and ethnic cross-section of New York City.

Luke received his B.S. in Secondary English Education in 2000 from New York University's School of Education, and is currently on temporary leave pursuing his M.Ed. in School Development from Harvard Graduate School of Education's School Leadership program.



Grade Level: 9-12

Time: Teachers will spend different amounts of time reading the book, but this Web project requires at least 4 days in a computer lab.

Materials: Computers with Internet access, copies of Brave New World by Huxley, and worksheets to guide students' research






Students will:

1. Make meaningful connections between the real world issues of behavior based on science and economics in Huxley's novel.

2. Understand the concepts of eugenics and clonings and the ethics debate they raise.

3. Research historical utopian and dystopian societies and reflect on their own society.

4. Participate actively in an online forum (nicenet.org) for continual debate, peer feedback, and online publishing.

5. Complete a research-based creative writing assignment.

Web sites:






Day One:


Computers with Internet access
Questionnaire/worksheet to guide students' research

1. To help students make meaningful connections between the real world issues of behavior based on science and economics to Huxley's novel.
2. To facilitate student research and peer debate and response.

This site is a supplement to Aldous Huxley's dystopic novel Brave New World. It works best to use it while reading the novel. I suggest that teachers begin using it with their students upon completing the reading/discussion of the first four chapters. The students will have a sense of what the novel's world is like, what their characters are like, and of the procedures the "world controllers" use to create and control the world's population.

1. Bring students to the school's computer lab. After they log in and open up a web browser, guide them to the site:

Either spend time (about twenty minutes) guiding them through the site's pages and links, starting with the homepage, or allow them to explore by themselves.
Bring students to www.nicenet.org, and discuss with them the function of the I-classroom as a forum for posting, peer and teacher response, and discussion.

2. Bring students to the Cloning, Machines, Drugs and your Mind page. Assign students to individually read the articles about:
- Henry Ford
- Ivan Pavlov
- B.F. Skinner
3. Provide students with a response worksheet to guide/focus their reading.

Sample Questions:
Henry Ford:
1. How did Ford's idea for mass production and the use of the assembly line throw "America's Industrial Revolution into overdrive?"
Ivan Pavlov:
1. Explain Pavlov's experiments using dogs, food, and a metronome (bell). What did Pavlov observations did he make about dog behavior when the dogs would hear the bell and no food was presented?
BH Skinner:
2. How did Skinner develop the ideas of "operant behavior" and "shaping behavior" by experimenting on pigeons?

The worksheet is to engage the students on a lower level--to provide them with the ability to engage each other and myself in discussion in the Nicenet classroom at a higher level.

Make your first posting in the Nicenet classroom.
- Reflect on what you learned about the ideas of these three men.
-How did these three men unlock and shape social behavior through science and economics?
-How do their ideas directly relate to Huxley's ideas of human biology and psychology?

Next day follow-up:
The following day, back in the computer lab, have the students read and respond to at least three other postings-and provide feedback to any of their peers who may have written to them. Additionally, it is assumed that the teacher will have previously read and responded to each of the students' postings. Therefore, the students would have to write back to their teacher.


Day Two:

Computers with Internet access
Additional websites to supplement those offered on the site for student research

1. To help students realize the concepts of eugenics and cloning, and the ethics debate they raise.
2. To continue creating connections between the real world and Huxley's novel.
3. To facilitate student research and peer response and debate.
4. To lay the groundwork for the culminating writing project.

1. In the computer lab, bring the students back to the website's homepage and direct them back to the Cloning, Machines, Drugs and your Mind page.

2. Assign them to read the content of the Cloning sub-page, and to read and explore the links detailing the development of the sheep Dolly
( http://pathfinder.com/TIME/cloning/home.html ). Students also have to
read the "questions" ( http://cloning.tripod.com ) and "ethics"
( http://ornl.gov/hgmis/elsi/elsi.html ) links.

3. When students finish reading links, they are to enter the Nicenet classroom and make their second posting by answering questions like:
- What did scientists hope to understand about genetics with the creation of Dolly?
- How can cloning benefit endangered species?
- How can cloning help people suffering from such diseases as diabetes, Parkinson's and cystic fibrosis?
- Should animal and/or human clones be created for the harvesting of tissue samples or organs needed for medical cures or research?
- Should families clone deceased family members?
- Should scientists tamper with the demystification of human life by creating it genetically?
- Is the beginning of cloning the end of the individual?


The questions provided on the page, including those raised on the cloning.tripod.com site, are to challenge the students into thinking critically about the material they've read. Students' ability to understand the reading material in class
will be assessed by how thoughtfully they respond to their peers.

Read your peers postings on Nicenet. Respond to at least three.

Next day follow-up:
The following day, back in the computer lab, have the students read the peer and teacher responses to their postings, and respond back.

Day Three:

Computers with Internet access
Project Clarification Sheet (containing: checklist/outline and additional websites of historical utopias and dystopias.)

1. To help students realize the concepts of utopia and dystopia, and how they have been practiced and experienced throughout history.
2. To continue creating connections between the real world and Huxley's novel.
3. To facilitate student research and peer response and debate.
4. To lay the groundwork for the culminating writing project.

When close to finishing Huxley's novel, take your students back to the lab for their third session with the website. This visit will provide students with time to research historical utopian and dystopian societies in order to complete the culminating creative writing assignment. Allow at least two days in the lab for this lesson to be

1. First, direct the students to the page detailing the major writing assignment, An Incredible Journey. Then, bring the students to the page containing the rubric with which their final project will be graded.

2. Distribute and discuss the Project Clarification with the students (to reinforce the directions for the project and to further guide their research and writing).
Additional sites include:
-Nazi Germany (focusing on education, women, and the Hitler
Youth): www.historylearningsite.co.uk/Nazi%20Germany.htm
-South Africa during Apartheid:
- Modern Utopias: www.d.umn.edu/~aroos/modernutopias.html

3. Discuss and clarify the instructions for the project. Then, guide your students to the page, Utopias, Dystopias, Dreams and Nightmares.

4. For the remainder of the period, monitor the students' exploration of the links as they select the society they will "visit" for the final project.

It is the teacher's decision as to how the students spend their second day in the lab-either continuing research as necessary, or beginning the drafting process. It is advised that after the submission of the first draft, the students return to the classroom in order to conclude and wrap up Huxley's novel.

The culminating project is a creative writing project that synthesizes the students' understanding of the world created in Huxley's novel, the historical research of utopian and dystopian societies, and the students' reflection on their own society.

Day Four:

Computers with Internet access
Additional websites to supplement those offered on the site for student research

1. To assess student learning/understanding of the connections existing between Huxley's fictional world and our real world.
2. To facilitate peer response.

1. Upon the completion of the students' final drafts for the Incredible Journey assignment, bring them to the computer lab for one last visit to the site.

2. Bring students back to the Nicenet i-classroom where they will post their final drafts. Similarly to how students read and responded to their peers' previous postings, allow students time to read and respond to as many of their peers' projects as possible, as well as responding to the feedback directed to them from their peers and their teacher (maybe you want to devote more than one day for this activity).

To guide/model how your students respond to their peers' work, have them write in response to questions such as:
- What new information about the world you live in did your peer's project help you realize? How did it accomplish this (what did you learn about the society your peer explored)?
- What are two aspects of your peer's project that you really enjoyed (character, dialogue, descriptive language, information presented.)? Why?
- What would you like to have known more about (where could your peer have gone into more detail)? Why?

3. With all of the work with Huxley's novel and the website complete, use written and verbal reflection to process the use of the site as an effective learning tool.
Sample Reflection Questions:
- How did the use of the website enhance your understanding of Huxley's novel?
- In terms of the research possibilities the site provides, which was your favorite (cloning, Pavlov's and Skinner's behavioral psychology, Ford's economic and technological contributions, the links to the utopian and dystopian societies)? Why?
- What were you able to learn about Huxley's world, history, and yourself from the culminating writing project? How?
- Did you like posting and responding in the Nicenet classroom-why/not? How did it compare to traditional discussion in the classroom-why?

To accompany the lessons, are three worksheets. Two of these worksheets
are to guide map out the students' work. The final is to enable the students to reflect on the entire experience.


This project addresses the New York State Performance Standards
for English Language Arts.

1. This project requires that students read and comprehend informational
materials. Students are assigned to read and write responses to research
on such topics as Henry Ford, Ivan Pavlov and BH Skinner, the ethics
involved in cloning, and dystopias such as Cambodia and Rwanda.

2. Towards the end of working with the novel and the website, students
will produce a report of information, a response to literature, and a
narrative account. The culminating activity is the creative writing assignment, "An
Incredible Journey." This paper is a narrative account that demonstrates
student comprehension of research materials and of Huxley's novel.

3. This project fosters one-on-one conferences with the teacher, and
calls for the students to prepare and deliver an individual
presentation. The teacher will respond to student postings to Nicenet
i-classroom, as will fellow classmates. In addition to daily work being
posted and responded to, the culminating project will also be posted and
responded to.

4. Students will independently and habitually demonstrate an
understanding of the rules of the English language in written work, and
analyze and subsequently revise work to improve its clarity and
effectiveness. Student will be writing throughout this project. Their
writing, whether small assignments or the culminating project will be
posted on Nicenet, where it will be read and responded to. The
culminating project will go through several drafts until the final is
ready to be posted on Nicenet.

5. This project will provide students with the opportunity to respond to
non-fiction and fiction using interpretive and critical processes. They
will be drawing on their research and reading of Huxley's novel to draft
their "An Incredible Journey" paper.

6. Since students will be posting their work on Nicenet for their peers
and the teacher to read and respond to, they will therefore be producing
public documents.




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