As the students walked into class, it was clear that Thursday's class would be slightly different than usual.
Popcorn and candy sat at a stand by the door, and the environment looked more like a movie theatre than the traditional classroom.
But it wasn't simply movie day in Maria Pirani Aldrich's Sixth Grade Language Arts class.
The students just finished reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, and annotated different ways that the setting helped to develop the theme. Thursday's viewing of The Truman Show was to compare the movie and the book. In both, the lead characters' societies are not as they appear.
"Both characters live in societies that are supposed to be safe and secure," Aldrich said. "However, with that security comes a lack of individuality and freedom to make choices of their own. The director and the author use the setting to teach the theme that total security is not worth the absence of freedom."
For example, in the book The Giver Jonas said "If everything's the same, then there aren't any choices! I want to wake up in the morning and decide things!" Similarly, in the move Truman Burbank said "It feels like the whole world revolves around me somehow."
Starting next week, students will begin the summative task of writing a five-paragraph comparative analysis essay that compares how two works develop a common theme.
"My hope is that the students can analyze theme, not only within the novel we are discussing, but make connections across a variety of texts,” Aldrich said. “Through the writing and peer editing process, I hope they continue to grow as confident writers.”