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Anthem Unit Plan

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If you plan on teaching Anthem by Ayn rand, I applaud you.  Even if your personal views run counter to Rand’s, the literary elements and themes of Anthem deserve exploration. Now you need an Anthem unit plan.

Will you design your own unit plan scratch, use an existing resource, or something in between? Whatever you decide, I hope that this Anthem unit plan aids you in teaching Anthem.

Anthem unit plan overview

Anthem unit plan table of contents

In this Anthem unit plan, your class will explore the novella over three to five weeks. If you have no other ongoing assignments, this could be shortened. As the table shows, there are pre-reading activities, Anthem lesson plans based on reading assignments, and a variety of culminating tasks.

Reading schedule for this Anthem unit:

  • Week 1  Chapter  1     (5-37)
  • Week 2  Chapters 2-7     (38-77)
  • Week 3  Chapters 8-12     (78-105)

(Page numbers refer to ISBN: 9780451227577.)

In order to make sure that students read with fidelity, there are reading quizzes for each section.

Anthem Unit Plan for teaching anthem

Anthem lesson plans (pre-reading)

There are some books that you can drop in the laps of the students without any introduction, but Anthem is not one of them.  Without appropriate pre-reading, students may be disoriented by the dystopic setting and unusual point of view.

Guide students through an exploration of society and the historical context of Anthem. Have them think about our underlying assumptions on how society works.  This thought experiment puts students in the right frame of mind to consider Equality’s world.

Anthem pre-reading lesson: A New Society

Anthem Lesson plan new society

Into:  Human beings tend to live in societies.  The members of the society live together based on values, rules, expectations, and practices.  What are the biggest problems that you see with our society today? Create an “Ills of Society” chart as a class.  Include the local and the global.

Through: Collaborate in creating a blueprint for a more perfect society.

Basic Info.:

  • Name of society
  • Goals and values (On what is the society based? What ideals are most important?)
  • What is it like for the people of this society?

In-depth Info:

  • Economy (How do people get what they need? How is wealth determined?)
  • Government (Who is in control? How are decisions made? What are the responsibilities of the government? What are the limits of governmental power?)
  • Individuals (What rights do people have? What are the limits on personal freedom? How are differences or disputes settled?)

Have the groups present their ideas for a more perfect society.  

Closing: Explain that for thousands of years philosophers and social scientists have been thinking about how to make a perfect society.  People are often trying to improve society in specific ways, but there have also been revolutionary changes.

Many authors have offered hypothetical examples. In Anthem, Ayn Rand imagines a society based on some very interesting rules, including the abolition of singular personal pronouns (I, me, my, mine, his, her, etc.)

Outbound link: Utopias Becoming Dystopias” from Shmoop.com

Writing:  

  • Many nations have resulted from revolutions attempting to create a more perfect society. Is it possible that humans can find the perfect recipe? What is stopping us?
  • Reflect on the group presentations. For which plan would you vote?  Explain your choice.

Additional/alternative pre-reading lessons

Anthem Anticipation Guide: Students prepare for the theme subjects in Anthem by thinking about the importance of names, beliefs, individuality, and society. Click here for the PDF.

Cartoon Cold Conflict: Communism vs. Capitalism: Students use propaganda cartoons from the cold war (both sides) to explore the historical context of Anthem.

Sticker Economies: Students use a classroom competition to think about the differences between communism and capitalism.

Related post: 15 Great Anthem Pre-reading Activities

Anthem lesson plans (for each reading)

Anthem lesson plans classroom

Anthem lessons 1: “Only the Great WE”

Into: Ask students to identify the ten most important principles of our society.  Create a chart as a class. You may want to discuss the core principles of government, rights, what it means to be a good citizen / neighbor, and how the economy functions.

Through: Rand asks us to imagine a society with a very different set of principles. Equality refers to these rules as they come up in the telling, so we will try to organize them.  

Each groups will create a list of 5-10 key principles for the society of Anthem. The students must create a table (posters are ideal) where they list the rules in their own words and establish cite the textual evidence.

Rule

Cite textual evidence

No person shall ever be superior to others. “…that we might be like them, like Union 5-3992, but somehow the Teachers knew that were were not. And we were lashed more often than all the other children.” (Rand 22)

If time allows, have the students number the rules in order of importance and compare results.

Beyond / writing:  

  • Rand could not develop her narrative or its themes without creating this different world. Describe the world of Anthem (setting) where she develops her characters and themes.
  • If you were in charge of creating a new society, what would be the ten most important principles?

Alternative/additional lessons for the first reading focus on writing from a collective point of view and analyzing the characterization of Equality.

Other lessons for this reading:

Visual Symbols vs. Literary Symbols: Exploring the significance of symbols in our everyday world and in literature

What’s in a Name?: Students think about names as an aspect of individuality and attempts to write a personal narrative from a collective point of view.

Characterizing Equality 7-2521: Students cite textual evidence in order to analyze characterization in Anthem.

ANTHEM unit cover final - SMALLDOWNLOAD THE UNIT

Anthem lessons 2: Equality’s Conflicts

In this reading Equality’s internal and external conflicts come to a head.  Students explore how the conflicts are developed and how they are connected.  The resolution of Equality’s internal conflicts completes the character arch.

Additional lessons for this reading:

Propaganda Posters: Students analyze historical examples in terms of purpose, rhetoric, and symbolism.

Presenting Dystopia Short Stories (groups): Each group reads a dystopia short story and presents the the class. The presentation summarizes the story and explains the development of the theme.

Some Are More Equal Than Others: Students analyze the hypocrisies of the society in Anthem.  Despite the stated importance of equality, it is clear that there is an established hierarchy.

Anthem unit plan propaganda lesson
One example of Soviet propaganda to analyze

Anthem lessons 3: Details and Theme

Students explore the thematic elements that develop Rand’s themes.  The lesson focuses mainly on how Rand uses allusions, motifs, and symbols.

Anthem unit plan culminating tasks

Additional lessons for this reading:

Equality’s Evolution: Students use textual evidence in order to recognize how Equality’s tone and point of view change over the course of the narrative.

Rand’s Word Choice: Rand establishes a powerful, somber, and reverent tone.  How does she use the elements of word choice to accomplish this?

Related post: How to Teach Anthem by Ayn Rand

Related post: Anthem Activities

Anthem unit plan culminating tasks

young ayn rand image

You must decide what elements of Anthem deserve the greatest focus.  For this reason, you will want a variety of culminating tasks and extension activities to consider.

My Anthem unit plan includes a list of culminating task ideas (directly related to the unit), a list of extension task ideas (loosely connected to the unit), and a exam bank of questions and prompts to choose from.

Extension tasks for the Anthem unit:

Comparing Dystopias

RL7 Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Comparisons

Read another text about a (fictional) society gone astray in order to compare the work to Anthem.  The genre is dystopia fiction; there are many choices.  Compare the themes, tones, and structures of the two works.

Point of View Shift

W3 Text Types and Purposes: Narrative

Rewrite one chapter in Anthem from a different point of view.  You may choose a different first-person narrator, or a third-person narrator.  Preface your narrative with a brief paragraph identifying the narration (e.g. a report from the World Council about the fight with Equality) and explaining the point of view and tone.  

Make sure that your word choice and tone suit the narrator. Demonstrate narrative elements: point of view, plot, dialogue (maybe), transitions, sensory language, tone, tension, etc…

Utopia / Dystopia

W3 Text Types and Purposes: Narrative

Write a short story around the concept of utopia / dystopia.  How might a society seeking perfection in one aspect go terribly wrong?  For example, imagine a society that decided that the real problem was that everyone was not getting enough sleep.  What extreme measures might the society take? How might the extreme measures actually make things worse? 

Anthem II: The World Council Strikes Back

W3 Text Types and Purposes: Narrative

Ok, maybe the World Council doesn’t strike back, but imagine you have been hired by the Ayn Rand Institute (it is real thing) to write a short sequel for Anthem.  You could start right after the last chapter, skip ahead generations, or even write a prequel.

Ayn Rand’s Views

W3 Text Types and Purposes: argument

Do you agree with Rand’s messages in Anthem?  Write an opinion essay where you agree completely, disagree completely, or qualify.  Make sure to demonstrate the elements of written argument: claims, opposing claims, reasons, evidence, and transitions.

Feminist Critique

W3 Text Types and Purposes: argument

Do you find Ayn Rand’s portrayal of Liberty offensive?  You can analyze Anthem by itself or include research regarding Rand’s other works and public statements in your analysis. Make sure to demonstrate the elements of written argument: claims, opposing claims, reasons, evidence, and transitions.

Equality Lives!

W3 Text Types and Purposes: argument

Equality has restored a printing press from the Unmentionable Times.  He plans to write a one-page pamphlet to distribute in the City of Men.  Write the pamphlet arguing that individuals should abandon the society and help Equality form his new society. Make sure to demonstrate the elements of written argument: claims, opposing claims, reasons, evidence, and transitions.

Equality’s Tone

W3 Text Types and Purposes: informational / explanatory

Analyze word choice in Anthem in order to compare the tone in the early chapters to the tone in the final chapters.  Cite evidence from the text and use relevant Language Arts terms in your analysis. Consider using this structure: Introduction, early tone, ending tone, differences, conclusion.

Rand’s Style

W3 Text Types and Purposes: informational / explanatory

Analyze Rand’s writing style regarding her word choice.  Use evidence from the text and relevant Language Arts terms in your analysis. Word choice includes figurative language, word connotations, sense of time and place, tone, analogies, allusions, and sound devices.

Allusions in Anthem

W9 Research to Build and Present Knowledge: Source materials

Dig deeper regarding Rand’s use of allusions and create a formal presentation.  Choose one allusion used in Anthem and research it.  Based on your research, analyze how Rand uses the connection to her own purpose.  

  • “Allegory of the Cave”
  • Prometheus
  • Narcissus
  • Gaia
  • Moses (Mt. Sinai and the Exodus)
  • Genesis (Adam, Eve, and the Garden of Eden)
  • The New Testament (Jesus and his disciples)

Directing Anthem

SL1, 4-6 Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

In a cooperative group, adapt one excerpt from Anthem for stage or screen.  Work together to write a simple script and keep a record of the discussions, disagreements and decisions.  You may change elements of the novella if it makes sense for the new medium, but stay true to the tone and theme.  Before performing, give a summary of your group’s creative choices.

World Council Propaganda

SL6 Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: adapt speech

The fact that Liberty and Equality abandoned the City has created a stir.  The World Council is uneasy. Create a propaganda campaign aimed at keeping everyone in line. Remember that the technology is limiting you to slogans, chants, plays, and posters.

Reading quizzes for this Anthem unit plan

Anthem unit reading quiz

I want my students to read independently as homework (with support as necessary). In my experience, a weekly reading quiz is the best way to hold students accountable.  I have realized too many times that students were copying answers for active reading questions or trying to fake their way through literature circle role sheets.

This quiz is purely to see who actually read the homework. (I count them as a homework grade). If the students actually read, they will be happy to engage in activities and discussions.  Reading quizzes should not use much class time or grading time.

For me, reading quizzes are essential.  Trying to complete a literature lesson with a group of students where only a small minority did the reading is a lesson in futility. Before long, the conscientious minority will not bother with the reading either.

Related post: Anthem Reading Quizzes

Related post: Pros and Cons of Teaching Anthem

ANTHEM unit cover final - SMALLDOWNLOAD THE UNIT

Anthem unit plan conclusion

I hope that you have found some of this information helpful as you prepare for teaching Anthem.  If this is the case, please consider using my complete Anthem unit and teacher guide.

In fourteen years of teaching, I have found that many of the teacher guides out there are not very helpful.  I always wanted guides that had clear reading schedules, consistent lesson formats, standards alignment, a focus on citing the text, reading quizzes, collaborative learning, and flexibility for customization.  I also wanted practicality and efficiency in terms of materials and grading.

My teacher guides are based on having a weekly reading assignment, a weekly reading quiz, one main lesson per week, and ideas for additional / alternate lessons.  This works well since there are always other weekly demands on class time for grammar lessons, school-wide projects, test preparation, and so on.  Of course, you can simply accelerate the pace of the lessons if you choose.

In addition to lesson options, I wanted to provide a variety of culminating tasks including a bank of exam questions.  This method makes my Anthem unit plan a structure that you can follow strictly, follow loosely, or customize.