A Visitor from Outer Space Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Science fiction can be a powerful tool. With this lesson plan, your students are going to work with ''A Visitor from Outer Space'' to explore social anxieties and hopes in literature.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Summarize the stories of A Visitor from Outer Space and contextualize each within history
  • Analyze the stories of A Visitor from Outer Space individually and within the greater edited book
  • Discuss the use of science fiction to reveal social fears, anxieties, and hopes

Length

120-180 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.6

Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3

Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

Materials

Instructions

  • This lesson plan is intended for students that have already read, or at least been exposed to A Visitor from Outer Space.
  • Start class by dividing students into five groups, and assign each group one of the short stories from A Visitor from Outer Space.
  • In their groups, students will prepare an analysis of their story, in which they explain the plot, major characters, and show how this story reflects fears or anxieties of the Cold War era. They will also come up with five discussion questions to ask the class about their short story.
  • Once students are ready, distribute copies of the lesson A Visitor from Outer Space Stories. You will read this lesson as a class, with one student reading aloud at a time, switching with every paragraph.
  • Using this method, read the sections ''A Collection of Soviet Science Fiction'' and ''Hoity-Toity''. Discuss this information.
    • What was happening in the USSR in the 1950s and early 1960s? What about this era makes science fiction a useful tool to examine society?
    • What fears/anxieties do we see in Hoity-Toity? How does this reflect ideas about technology, modernity, and humanity?
  • Your class will approach the rest of this lesson one section at a time. Have a student or two read the summary of each short story (the information in the text lesson) aloud. Then have the group responsible for that short story present their in-depth analysis of it, and lead the class in a brief discussion. Repeat this for all five short stories.
  • You may test student understanding with the lesson quiz.

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