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Unformatted text preview: English Units Do I Dare Disturb the Universe? Prefatory statement The main focus of this unit is on Robert Cormiers The Chocolate War and its question do we dare disturb the universe? Although The Chocolate War is set in a private all- boys school, the issues it calls attention to are relevant in all students lives. Just a few of the topics to be explored in this book are: abuse of power, what makes a hero, loneliness, intimidation (peer pressure), relationships, rules, control, bullying, and courage. These issues loom especially large in our lives during adolescence. During our teenage years we are worried about our self-image and about fitting in. The choices we make are influenced as much as by those we see as enemies as by those we see as friends. Perhaps more than any other time of life, adolescence is a time of worrying about what others think rather than worrying about doing what is right. It is important that adolescents are allowed to explore these issues in the relative safety of the classroom. By focusing on characters problems in The Chocolate War , students can think of solutions and analyze consequences without exposing their own personal lives. All adolescents will be able to think of situations in their own schools, lives, and families that parallel those of the characters in The Chocolate War . We will also be exploring other types of literature about people who have dared to disturb the universe, including other short fiction works, poetry, and multicultural non-fiction about courageous people who were defiant in the face of the powers that be. In order for students to take what we have discussed in The Chocolate War and apply it to their real lives, this unit also incorporates a panel discussion including parents and community members which will give students an opportunity to talk about issues of power, danger, intimidation, and rules in their neighborhoods and school. Another way in which students will be able to use this information in their real lives in order to help others is through a class publishing project in which students create a handbook of guidelines for dealing with peer pressure and bullies that will be shared with the school and local libraries. Students also have the choice of writing a play about bullying as an alternative to the handbook. It is extremely important that adolescents explore what it means to stand up for themselves. Not only is it important for students immediate lives, it is also important for their futures because these issues never completely go away. As adults, we are often confronted with them and are called upon to make important decisions: who will we support, what will we do, what will our decisions cost us, what are we willing to do to make our world a safer place? If students learn to take a stand during their high school years, they will be able to call on that knowledge and utilize it as adults....
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