Ideas for teaching “The Fun They Had” by Isaac Asimov.

One idea for a lesson plan on “The Fun They Had” is to have students come up with their own technological advancement to include in a short story, one that might be commonplace in the future. Then, they could analyze their ideas and inventions in various ways. You could then have them synthesize these elements by creating their own short story or elements of it.

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In this story by Asimov, his main character, Margie, has a mechanical teacher who must be adjusted and modified because the robot teacher is handing out assignments too quickly.

Although it’s now 2021 and students are learning remotely with instruction delivered online (sometimes with no teacher present), it is still...

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In this story by Asimov, his main character, Margie, has a mechanical teacher who must be adjusted and modified because the robot teacher is handing out assignments too quickly.

Although it’s now 2021 and students are learning remotely with instruction delivered online (sometimes with no teacher present), it is still odd to think about a robot as a teacher. Consider what readers in 1951 thought about this idea. Better yet, have students consider what future technological advances might seem impossible right now.

The following could be a lesson plan for this novel:

1. Discuss Asimov’s novel and how readers in 1951 reacted to the science fiction idea of a robot teacher. Then brainstorm and discuss what ideas seem far-fetched presently or even impossible. You could have them work in pairs to generate ideas quickly. List the ideas on the board as the class discusses whether they’re even plausible or not. You can give them possible topics, such as Flying Cars, Life on Mars, Robot House Help (making meals, cleaning home), Order Organs Online, Driver-Less Public Transportation, or Underwater Cities.

2. Tell students to create an idea for a short story in which they present a technological advancement (idea) that seems far-fetched to us currently. Their audience will be people who read the story decades from now and have the sci-fi idea/invention you have chosen. They will be surprised to see your idea in a story from 2021. Again, the idea/invention cannot be humanly impossible but must require some imagination to take place.

3. After students have chosen their idea, they must complete the following requirements:

a. Explain why they chose your topic/idea and how it could be possible.

b. Describe the personal, moral, and social impacts of their idea upon society.

c. Analyze how and why future generations would welcome their idea/invention.

d. Analyze how technology can impact society both positively and negatively

5. Have students create their own short story. Or, if time in your unit does not permit the process of writing a whole story, you could require students to choose at least two of the following to complete:

a. Create a detailed and imaginative cover for their short story.

b. Write the first two pages of their story.

c. Write the last two pages of their story.

d. Create a detailed list of the characters in their story and their importance in their story.

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