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Lesson Plan

Paying Attention to Technology: Exploring a Fictional Technology

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Paying Attention to Technology: Exploring a Fictional Technology

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



From personal computers to the latest electronic gadgetry for the home or entertainment, Americans seem to have fallen in love with just about anything that will make our high-tech lifestyles more comfortable, convenient, and enjoyable. Students first complete a survey to establish their beliefs about technology before using a literary elements map to explore the role of a fictional technology in a novel such as 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, REM World, or Feed. Next, students discuss and debate what they believe the story's author is saying about technology. By exploring the fictional technology, students are urged to think more deeply about their own beliefs and to pay attention to the ways that technology is described and used. This lesson plan can also be completed with short stories, video games, films, and other fictional resources that examine issues related to science and technology and their possible effects on society.

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Letter Generator: This online tool allows students to read about the parts of a letter. They can then write and print their own friendly or business letter.

Literary Elements Map
: This online tool can be used by students to create a character map, conflict map, resolution map, or setting map, for stories they are reading or writing.

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In Technology and Literacy in the Twenty-First Century, Cynthia L. Selfe urges that educators "must try to understand-to pay attention to-how technology is now inextricably linked to literacy and literacy education in this country" (24). Just learning to use a piece of software or new digital gizmo is not enough. We need to explore technological literacy, which Selfe defines as "a complex set of socially and culturally situated values, practices, and skills involved in operating linguistically within the context of electronic environments, including reading, writing, and communicating" (11). In other words, our classroom activities need to consider not just how to use technology but also to pay attention to why we use the technologies we do when we do.

In "Confronting the Limits of Technology," Larry Johannessen focuses on a classroom activity that falls within the exploration of technological literacy that Selfe defines. Johannessen explains that "our students . . . are fascinated by the latest developments in high-tech wizardry; they can talk endlessly about how they ‘must have' the newest CD player or video game and ‘can't live without' a Walkman or some rock star's music video. Yet, our students have embraced the benefits of a high-tech society without thinking about the possible negative effects of relying too much on technology" (83). This lesson plan asks students to think about their own opinions about technology as well as the representation of technology in fictional readings and to draw conclusions about the failure to pay attention to technology.

Further Reading

Johannessen, Larry R. 1995. "Confronting the Limits of Technology." Teaching Literature in High School: The Novel. Standards Consensus Series. Urbana, IL: NCTE.


Selfe, Cynthia L. 1999. Technology and Literacy in the Twenty-First Century: The Importance of Paying Attention. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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