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The Fault in Our Stars By John Green

Teacher Guide by Bridget Baudinet

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School ELA Category!

Student Activities for The Fault in Our Stars Include:

John Green’s fourth novel, The Fault in Our Stars, has gained a following among tween and teen readers. This is partly due to its tragic love story, but may also be due to its thought-provoking subject matter. The book explores philosophical questions about the meaning of life, death, and suffering. While adults may find the topics in this novel heavy and too mature for children, Green believes that young readers are probably already thinking about them. Green has stated that he enjoys writing about intelligent teenagers, and he makes a point of including lines from an interview with Otto Frank (Anne Frank’s father) in which Frank states, “I was very much surprised by the deep thoughts Anne had...And my conclusion is … most parents don’t know really their children”. The Fault in Our Stars provides young adults with a poignant way to explore the important questions of the human experience. From a literary perspective, it calls upon students to recognize a number of important metaphors and symbols while tracing the subtle character development of the protagonists.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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The Fault in Our Stars focuses heavily on the experience of cancer patients. While John Green acknowledges that “disease and its treatment are treated fictitiously” in his novel, he nevertheless includes a number of medical terms and cancer-related discussions. Students might benefit from a preview of the medical vocabulary in the book, including such terms as metastasize, G-tube, PET scan, PICC line, cannula, BiPAP, and prosthetic. Students should also be reminded that the novel is fictional and does not represent the experience of all cancer patients. A good starting place might be this 2014 article on teen cancer patients reacting to the novel.

Full understanding of the nobel also requires familiarity with the title’s allusion. “The fault in our stars” refers to a line spoken by Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” The line refers to the ancient belief that a person’s fate was determined by the alignment of the stars upon their birth, much like the idea behind horoscopes today. In contradicting Cassius’ original line, The Fault in Our Stars announces its exploration of fate and free will. Students may benefit from an explanation of this Shakespearean allusion and a debate about its validity. As they continue reading, they will be able to make connections between the book’s title and its characters’ development.

In addition to its Julius Caesar reference, The Fault in Our Stars contains a number of other allusions to literature. The list below identifies some of the works mentioned in the novel. Consider pairing these with students’ study of the novel.


  • “There’s a certain slant of light,” by Emily Dickinson
  • “J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T. S. Eliot
  • “Lady Lazarus,” by Sylvia Plath
  • “The Red Wheelbarrow,” by William Carlos Williams
  • “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” by Wallace Stevens
  • The prologue to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
  • The Greek legend of Sisyphus

Essential Questions for The Fault in Our Stars

  1. What makes life meaningful?
  2. How should humans deal with death?
  3. What is the role of suffering in our lives?
  4. What makes someone a good friend?
  5. How much control do we have over our own lives? Is there such as thing as destiny?
  6. How can good literature and/or art help us better understand our lives?

The Fault in Our Stars Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

The Fault in Our Stars Summary


Copy Assignment



A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example The Fault in Our Stars Plot Diagram

Exposition

Hazel knows her lifespan is limited. Hazel's breathing is severely limited due to the cancer in her lungs, and she breathes with the help of a portable oxygen tank and tubes.


Conflict

Hazel makes friends with a cancer-survivor named Augustus, but does not want to become romantically involved with him to avoid breaking his heart when she dies.


Rising Action

Hazel and Augustus grow closer together through a shared love of the book An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten. They write to Van Houten to find out the details of his unfinished ending, and when he refuses to tell them, they plan a trip to visit him.


Climax

Hazel and Augustus are disappointed by Peter Van Houten in Amsterdam, but they grow closer together as a result of the trip. Hazel agrees to begin a romantic relationship with Augustus only to learn that his cancer has returned and cannot be treated.


Falling Action

As Augustus's health deteriorates, Hazel and Gus grow closer together and help each other deal with their physical and emotional pain.


Resolution

Augustus dies, but Hazel is grateful to have loved him and feels comforted by the eulogy he left behind for her.



The Fault in Our Stars Plot Diagram
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION Hazel Grace Lancaster is a seventeen-year-old girl living with terminal cancer. Although the growth of her cancer has been slowed by an experimental drug, Hazel knows her lifespan is limited. Hazel's breathing is severely limited due to the cancer in her lungs, and she breathes with the help of a portable oxygen tank and tubes. Hazel makes friends with a cancer-survivor named Augustus, but does not want to become romantically involved with him to avoid breaking his heart when she dies. Hazel and Augustus grow closer together through a shared love of the book An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten. They write to Van Houten to find out the details of his unfinished ending, and when he refuses to tell them, they plan a trip to visit him. Hazel and Augustus are disappointed by Peter Van Houten in Amsterdam, but they grow closer together as a result of the trip. Hazel agrees to begin a romantic relationship with Augustus only to learn that his cancer has returned and cannot be treated. As Augustus's health deteriorates, Hazel and Gus grow closer together and help each other deal with their physical and emotional pain. Augustus dies, but Hazel is grateful to have loved him and feels comforted by the eulogy he left behind for her. I don't want to be a grenade. You realize that trying to keep your distance from me will not lessen my affection for you Hazel is different... She walks lightly upon the earth...

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of The Fault in Our Stars.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



Plot Diagram Template
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION

Example

(Use this rubric or create your own on Quick Rubric.)





Copy Assignment

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The Fault in Our Stars Vocabulary Spider Map

Another great way to engage your students is creating a storyboard that uses vocabulary. Here is a list of a few vocabulary words commonly taught with The Fault in Our Stars and an example of a visual vocabulary board.

In the vocabulary board, students can choose between coming up with their own use of the vocabulary word, finding the specific example from the text, or depicting it without words.


The Fault in Our Stars Vocabulary

  • unprecedented
  • idyllic
  • liberated
  • rotundity
  • self-aggrandizing
  • eulogy
  • indomitable
  • ascertain
  • affliction
  • futility
  • oblivion
  • inexorable
  • malevolent
  • narcissist
  • stoic
  • palliative
  • solace
  • inevitable

The Fault in Our Stars Vocabulary
Create your own at Storyboard That Eulogy Idyllic Affliction n. a speech in honor of a deceased person Hazel gives Augustus two eulogies - one before he dies and one after. adj. charming in a simple, rustic way Hazel views some parts of the city of Amsterdam as idyllic. n. a cause of mental or bodily pain, as sickness, loss, calamity, or persecution Augustus suffers from the affliction of bone cancer. The Fault in Our Stars Vocabulary