Students read Fahrenheit 451, their first exposure to the genre of science fiction at the high school level, and discuss the author's messages about humanity, censorship, and technology.
This unit on Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury marks students’ first exposure to the genre of science fiction at the high school level. As they read about the lives of the characters in Bradbury’s dystopian futuristic society, they will explore how he uses the genre of science fiction to convey his messages about humanity, censorship, and technology. Additionally, close attention will be paid to Bradbury’s use of structure, diction, and figurative language to paint a vivid picture of the life in the society he has created. Students will read, discuss, and take a stand on such issues as censorship, technology, and knowledge. They will defend their positions with evidence from the novel, other supplementary texts read in class, as well as their own personal experiences. The target tasks emphasize short written responses to questions about the literature. Students will, therefore, have multiple short at bats at improving their writing on an almost daily basis. Since providing written feedback on this volume of writing can be prohibitive depending on the number of students a teacher teaches in a day, it is recommended that the teacher place an emphasis on providing enough time for students to respond to the target tasks in class while the teacher can circulate and provide feedback. Additionally, several target tasks in this unit ask the students to evaluate a position or argument. If this skill is new to students, they may need some additional instruction on how to craft a written response that thoroughly evaluates an author or character’s position.
At Match, students have a Composition class 4 days per week in addition to English class. Below, we have included Supplementary Composition Projects to reflect the material covered in our Composition course. For teachers who are interested in including these Composition projects but do not have a separate Composition course, we have included a “Suggested Placement” to note where these projects would most logically fit into the English unit. While the Composition projects may occasionally include content unrelated to English 10, most have both a skill and content connection to the work students are doing in their English 10 class.
These accompanying Composition projects build upon each other to prepare students for the culminating project of the unit: an original argument essay about the role of free speech and censorship in society. In order to prepare to write their own argument essay, students will first spend time analyzing techniques used by a variety of authors and speech makers. The rhetorical analysis students will do includes elements of both reading and writing with an overarching focus on developing the bank of techniques students are able to recognize, analyze, and ultimately use themselves.
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Book: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Simon & Schuster, 2012)
Letter: “I Am Very Real” by Kurt Vonnegut
Article: “Political Society” by John Locke
Poem: “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold
Article: “Human or Machine? A.I. Experts Reportedly Pass the "Turing Test"” by Scott Neuman (Commonlit.org)
Article: “Watch Out: Cellphones Can Be Addictive” by Kathiann Kowalski (Commonlit.org)
This assessment accompanies Unit 3 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Within this unit of study, the writing prompts are largely literary analysis, with very few lengthy writing assignments and more emphasis on producing small bursts of writing on daily target tasks. This focus on shorter amounts of writing can allow the teacher to focus on very specific grammar or writing points. Some suggested teaching points are listed below, but the teacher should use our Composition Writing Rubric and his or her own students’ writing to select the most appropriate teaching points.
The composition projects paired with this unit focus on rhetorical analysis. In a rhetorical analysis writing, we explain the techniques a speaker uses to persuade an audience in a particular context.
simile, metaphor, diction, irony, metaphor, symbol, characterization, theme, allusion, dystopia, anti-hero, science fiction
ped- (pedestrian); con- (contemptible) sub- (subaudible)
corruption (whole novel), stolid (1), singed (2), pedestrian (7), subconscious (8), refracted (8), pulverized (11), olfactory (22), muzzle (23), antisocial (26), transcription (27), proclivities (30), objectivity (33), odious (33), condemnation (37), jargon (39), stagnant (41), cacophony (42), mass (51), melancholy (53), censorship (55), dictum (55), exploitation (55), censor (56), breach (56), titillation (56), tactile (58), torrent (59), sieve (67), subside (68), philosophies (73), toil (75), diverted (77), profusion (79), insidious (82), cowardice (86), contemptible (87), subaudible (92), honed (100), distilled (100), reckoning (102), discourse (104), rigidity (108), perpetual (109), anesthetized (114), phosphorescent (119), dilate (127), cadence (140), rarity (141), avenged (142), incriminate (145), bombardment/bombardier (151)
minstrel man (2), centrifuge (42), praying mantis (45), water under the bridge (48), pratfall (53), Little Black Sambo (57), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (57), flue (57), Caesar (82), Praetorian Guard (82), Vesuvius (89), cesarean section (92) , holier-than-thou (108), valise (129), séance (131), status quo (150), Ecclesiastes and Revelation (144 & 153), phoenix (156)
Students will need to fully understand what censorship is and that it has many forms. Students will also learn about the concept of a utopia and a dystopia and the genre of science fiction.
“I Am Very Real”
Analyze Vonnegut’s message on censorship.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 1 – 7
Explain how Bradbury uses figurative language to characterize the fireman, Montag, the fire, and Clarisse.
Synthesize information from the chapter to infer the central conflict of the novel.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 8 – 18
Identify the main values of the society and justify selections using Vonnegut’s descriptions in this section of text.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 19 – 28
Explain what the Hound represents.
Infer the values of this society based on Clarisse’s description of her school day.
Take and defend a stand on whether freedom or order is more important according to Locke.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 33 – 38
Explain Bradbury’s use of figurative language to reveal conflict.
Analyze the impact that the events of this scene have on Montag.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 38 – 45
Analyze and interpret Bradbury’s use of structure.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 45 – 55
Analyze Beatty’s lecture, identifying the three reasons he gives for the government turning to censorship.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 55 – 59
Complete analysis of Beatty’s speech.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 60 – 65
“Watch Out: Cellphones Can Be Addictive”
Analyze how Bradbury develops Montag’s internal conflict.
“Human or Machine? A.I. Experts Reportedly Pass the "Turing Test"”
Formulate and defend a position on the benefits and detriments of technology.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 71 – 81
Analyze and explain the significance of the title “The Sieve and the Sand” based on the Denham’s Dentifrice scene.
Identify which three things are missing from society according to Faber and explain their importance.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 81 – 88
Identify and evaluate Montag and Faber’s plan.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 88 – 96
Explain what is revealed about society through the words of the women at Mildred’s party and describe their reaction to Montag’s poem.
Analyze the excerpt from the poem "Dover Beach" that is included on p. 96 and explain how it connects to events in Farenheit 451.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 96 – 106
Analyze and interpret the significance of the irony of the end of section 2 of the novel.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 107 – 119
Evaluate Montag as an anti-hero.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 119 – 133
Explain how Bradbury creates suspense through his use of structure.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 133 – 158
Characterize the men by the fire.
Analyze the symbolism of both the river and the phoenix.
Fahrenheit 451 pp. 138 – 158
Analyze the symbolism of the river and the phoenix.
Explain how Barack Obama persuades his audience in the opening of his 2008 “A More Perfect Union” speech. Use evidence and examples from the speech to support your analysis.
An effective rhetorical analysis:
Analyze how Senator Murkowski uses structure to persuade the audience in her 2013 speech “We Need New Ways to Fund Our National Parks.”
An effective rhetorical analysis:
Reread the speech given by Captain Beatty on pp. 51–59 of Fahrenheit 451. Write a well-developed essay in which you analyze the persuasive techniques used by Captain Beatty to convey his attitude toward society and convince Montag of his position.
An effective rhetorical analysis:
In his letter “I Am Very Real,” author Kurt Vonnegut writes, “If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own.”
Consider the value that Vonnegut places on the free circulation of all ideas. Then write an essay in which you develop your own position on censorship and the free circulation of ideas. Use appropriate, specific evidence to illustrate and develop your position.
An effective argument essay: