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Lesson Plan

Finding the Science Behind Science Fiction through Paired Readings

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Finding the Science Behind Science Fiction through Paired Readings

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Science fiction has the potential to spark lively discussions while inviting students to extrapolate from their own working knowledge of scientific principles. This genre offers a human lens to what can otherwise be a complex science concept. In this lesson, students will be able to explore the genre of science fiction, while learning more about the science integrated into the plot of the story using nonfiction texts and resources. They first define the science fiction genre and then read and discuss science fiction texts. Next, they conduct research to find science facts that support or dispute the science included in the plot of the science fiction book they read. Students then revisit their definition of the genre and revise based on their reading. Finally, students complete a project that examines the science fiction genre in relation to real-world science concepts and topics.

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  • Suggested Science Fiction Texts: This resource provides an annotated list of science fiction and nonfiction texts.
  • Venn Diagram: Use this online tool to organize ideas for a compare and contrast essay, or while reading to compare and contrast two works of literature.
  • Persuasion Map: Students use this online tool to map out and print a persuasive argument. Included are spaces to map out the thesis, three reasons, and supporting details.

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With the number of genres and specific titles we have to teach in our classrooms, why would a teacher want to find time to teach the genre of science fiction? Erin Pierce explains in her Voices from the Middle article, "Fantasy and science fiction allow us to step beyond our own world to discover more about this world. As we meet characters who might not ever exist and stand in lands forged in someone's imagination, we also confront the realities of this real world: the fight of good and evil, the search for identity, the courage common folks can summon, the sustaining joy of family and friends. This list offers readers that chance to wander away and return not only entertained, but enriched." To help bring the science fiction genre to the classroom, Pierce continues on to provide an annotated list of 40 titles, including some the texts used in this lesson plan.

This lesson plan makes the connections between the worlds in science fiction and students' real world explicit by asking them to explore the underlying science that supports the fictional world and considering its relationship to the real science in today's society.

Further Reading

Pierce, Erin. "Science Fiction and Fantasy." Voices from the Middle 9.2 (December 2001): 74-77.

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