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The Giver by Lois Lowry

Teacher Guide by Rebecca Ray

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The Giver Lesson Plans

Student Activities for The Giver By Lois Lowry Include:

Check out The Giver lesson plans with valuable ways to create visual storyboards that incorporate all four ELA Common Core standards with your unit on the first book of The GIver series.

The Giver By Lois Lowry Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

The Giver Plot Diagram


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A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a novel. 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 novel 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 the sequence using;Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example The Giver Plot Diagram

Exposition

The Giver begins in a utopian society where a young boy, Jonas, lives. He is 11 years old, and about to become an adult.


Conflict

Jonas is about to turn 12. This is the age when it is decided by the elders what job you will be given as an adult. Jonas is undecided, and worried what he will be chosen to do.


Rising Action

The rising action happens during the selection process. The ceremony when each child is moved up to a new year. The 11's are last to be called as they will each be given their jobs. It is here that Jonas' number is skipped! In a twist of suspense, he is called last to be The Receiver of Memory.


Climax

Jonas has been training as the receiver. Because of his position, he is allowed to ask questions that no one else can ask. He also learns about life before the "utopia". When he asks to see his father perform a "release", he realizes what it truly is - murder.


Falling Action

With his new memories, Jonas devises a plan to escape with Gabe, a baby his father has been nurturing, and whose life is threatened. Together they escape, running at night, and sleeping by day. Jonas hopes they can escape to 'Elsewhere'.


Resolution

There is no definitive resolution to The Giver. In the end, Jonas and Gabe experience starvation, cold, and fear. However, they have each other, and a bond of love. The story concludes with the two sledding down the hill that Jonas was given a memory of, together.


(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 Giver.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  3. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  4. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
  5. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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The Giver Characters


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As students read, a storyboard can serves as a helpful character reference log. This log (also called a character map) allows students to recall relevant information about important characters. When reading a novel, small attributes and details frequently become important as the plot progresses. With character mapping, students will record this information, helping them follow along and catch the subtleties which make reading more enjoyable!


The Giver Characters

NAMEDESCRIPTION
JonasThe protagonist. He becomes the Receiver, the person in the community that will receive all the memories of the world.
LilyJonas' little sister.
Jonas's FatherA caretaker of the young. He acts as a nurturer to Gabe.
Jonas's MotherA lawyer in the community.
Asher Jonas's best friend. He is funny and playful. He becomes the head recreation director during selection.
FionaA redheaded girl that Jonas likes.
The GiverThe former Receiver who gives Jonas all the memories of the world.

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


Student Instructions

Create a character map for the major characters.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify the major characters in The Giver and type their names into the different title boxes.
  3. Choose a character from the Storyboard That library to represent each of the literary characters.
    • Select colors and a pose appropriate to story and character traits.
  4. Choose a scene or background that makes sense for the character.
  5. Fill in text for Traits, Interests, Beliefs, and Quote that Shows Personality.
  6. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


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The Giver: Dystopia or Utopia?


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Utopian/ dystopian literature is a rapidly growing sub-genre of popular fiction. Authors often use utopias to convey a message about the world we live in today.

Dystopias are extremely flawed societies. In this genre, the setting is often a fallen society, usually occurring after a large-scale war, or other horrific event, that caused chaos in the former world. In many stories this chaos gives rise to a totalitarian government that assumes absolute control. The flaws in this sort of a dystopia are centered around oppression and restrictions on freedom by central authorities.


Jonas’ Community

Have your students create storyboards where they choose a stance on the community. Is it dystopian or utopian? In the storyboard, the student can depict the elements of a utopia or dystopia, and explain their reasoning.

This storyboard uses examples from the article "Teaching Dystopia".

Examples of Dystopia in The Giver

ELEMENT EXAMPLE
No Independent Thought Dreams are suppressed through medication.
Oppressive Government Elders are revered and chosen to make decisions that are best for the community.
Lack of Free Will Choices are taken away from the people for fear that they cannot handle the consequences.
"Sameness/Uniformity" All houses are the same, inside and out!
Perfect Society Although everyone is happy, Jonas stresses that because they live in ignorance, their society is far from perfect.
Citizens are Under Surveillance The Elders can listen and speak everywhere.

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


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows the six elements of a dystopia in The Giver.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify events or characteristics of the story that fit into the elements of a dystopia
  3. Illustrate the examples for each event or characteristic.
  4. Write a short description below each cell that specifically relates The Giver as a dystopia.
  5. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.



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Themes, Motifs, and Symbols of The Giver Graphic Organizers


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Valuable aspects of any literary work are its themes, symbols, and motifs. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to anatomize without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.

In the classroom, students can track the rich symbolism that Lowry uses throughout the novel, The Giver. In the example storyboard below, there are five themes, motifs, and symbols that are noted in various chapters of the book.

The Giver Themes

Choices

Choices are a major theme in The Giver. Once Jonas has trained for a year, he begins to realize from the memories how sad life is without choices. The colors he begins to see are so beautiful, and he wishes that people could see them. This brings him to ask why people can't choose for themselves; why they can't wake up and pick a blue or red tunic. The community believes that if people make choices, they might carry out the wrong choices, or those choices might lead to something bad happening that violates the community's security.


Freedom vs. Security

Another major theme in the novel is freedom vs. security. The Committee created the idea of a perfect society, and with that comes a sense of safety. No one is ever hungry, everyone has a place, all are cared for. However, citizens must forfeit freedom to maintain this security.


The Giver Motifs and Symbols

Vocabulary Precision

A strange motif in the novel is precision of vocabulary. The idea that people in the utopia can articulate precisely suggests that the society can control words, their meanings, and ultimately the feelings associated with them. Thus, in turn, controlling the population, and how they feel.


Feelings

Throughout the novel the idea of sharing one's feelings reoccurs and is done by everyone in the community. Feelings, whether acceptable or not, are part of who we are as humans. Feeling sharing maintains a level of control over the community. The elders started feeling sharing so that they could police how people should feel.


Dreams

Dreams are a universal motif in literature. Often, writers use dreams to convey meaning, foreshadow, or to create fear or suspense. Jonas's dreams show the reader his society's oppression. He is not allowed to dream, even though it is pleasant. His dream begin his awakening, as he doesn't understand why dreams are banned.


Other Symbols

  • Snow
  • Sled
  • Gabriel
  • The River
  • Nakedness
  • Release/Death

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


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in The Giver. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify the theme(s) from The Giver you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for examples that represent this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



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The Giver Vocabulary Storyboard


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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 Giver and an example of a visual vocabulary board.


Example Vocabulary Words From The Giver

  • intrigued
  • palpable
  • chastisement
  • petulant
  • chortle
  • interdependence
  • reluctant
  • exuberant
  • transgression
  • meticulous
  • scrupulous
  • indolence
  • prohibited
  • compel
  • intricate
  • diminish
  • deft
  • exhilarating
  • quizzically
  • admonition
  • assimilate

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

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


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in The Giver by creating visualizations.


  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



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Depict Literary Conflict in The Giver


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Literary conflicts are often taught during ELA units. Building on prior knowledge to achieve mastery level with our students is important. An excellent way to focus on the various types of literary conflict is through storyboarding. Having students choose an example of each literary conflict and depict it using the storyboard creator is a great way to reinforce your lesson!

In the prototype storyboard below, each cell contains a particular type of conflict. The type of conflict is displayed, and visually represented with an explanation of the scene, and how it fits the specific category of conflict.

Examples of The Giver Conflicts

MAN vs. MAN

Jonas vs. The Giver - Jonas is upset with the Giver for not giving everyone the memories to share.


MAN vs. SELF

Jonas vs. Jonas the Receiver - As Jonas grows with his memories and wisdom, he struggles with "release" when he realizes that it actually means death.


MAN vs. SOCIETY

Jonas vs. His Community - Jonas is completely against the community. He leaves to go elsewhere when the infant, Gabe, is threatened with being "released".


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


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows at least three forms of literary conflict in The Giver.


  1. Identify conflicts in The Giver.
  2. Categorize each conflict as Character vs. Character, Character vs. Self, Character vs. Society, Character vs. Nature, or Character vs. Technology.
  3. Illustrate conflicts in the cells, using characters from the story.
  4. Write a short description of the conflict below the cell.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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A Quick Synopsis of The Giver

Jonas is a typical 11 year old who lives in a seemingly perfect community. There is little pain, and no crime. People are polite, and everyone belongs to a supportive family. However this utopia comes at a price; there are no choices, emotions are forbidden, and life in the community is dictated by strict rules. In this society, Elders match spouses, and assign children to them before birth. Everyone looks similar in skin color and dress. Everyone in the community is also assigned a job.

When it is Jonas time to learn his job, he is chosen to be the new Receiver. This is the person who holds all the memories of the world for their society. Over time, Jonas learns about color, nature, beauty, pleasure, love, and family. As well as painful memories of loss, loneliness, poverty, injury, war, and death. The former Receiver (the eponymous Giver) explains that the community is founded on the principle of likeness, which requires the consistency of a world without emotion and memory to survive. He adds that these memories give the Receiver the true wisdom needed to guide the committee in all their decisions.

Before the resolution of the novel, Jonas learns how people in the community die, and he plans an escape so that Gabe (a toddler his family is caring for) will not be ‘released’ (killed). Jonas wants to give all the memories he possesses to everyone, despite warnings from the Giver that doing so could have devastating consequences. Jonas becomes upset and feels that, without memories, his family and friends live in ignorance.

This escape plan takes Jonas and Gabe on a journey. Jonas struggles with the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that the Giver has shared with him, before they reach a place that was in Jonas's first received memory. In the snow, Jonas and Gabe sled down a hill, happy for a moment.


Essential Questions For The Giver

  1. What are the benefits and disadvantages of conformity?
  2. What is true freedom, and do we have it?
  3. What makes for a perfect society, and is it realistic?
  4. Why should we embrace diversity and individuality?

Other Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Storyboard what the ending of the novel meant to you, personally. Since the ending is somewhat ambiguous, and can mean so many things to different people, reflect on what it means to you.
  2. Create an alternate ending to the novel with a storyboard that shows and tells the story from a different perspective.
  3. Complete a storyboard showing the rules that Jonas’ has as Receiver.
  4. Depict your favorite part of the novel using storyboards and share with your classmates.
  5. Make a storyboard depicting how Jonas' world seems perfect and what is it lacking.
  6. Add a presentation to any storyboard project.

From Our Artists

From Stephanie (Head of Creativity)

I enjoyed creating the artwork for The Giver because I read it in elementary school, and it was my first introduction to dystopias. I really like this genre; it is interesting to think of what life would be like without freedoms, and it always made me reflect about our world. Some of the scenes made specifically for this novel include the identical homes, the stage, and the snow covered hill!

  • Personal Favorite: You can use filters to create the colorless world of The Giver.
  • Pro-Tip: You can create "uniform" people by using the same character but changing skin color, hair color and eye color.
  • Search Tip: Sometimes the details can really make the storyboard - like the speaker that is repeated in so many of the scenes. Search has over 45,000 images - so make sure you use it!


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