Seventh grade students at Hartselle Junior High School are participating in The Hunger Games for the rest of the year. Instead of fighting in an arena to the death like teens in Suzanne Collins’ books, the students are learning skills they need to survive in the intellectual world.
Seventh grade English teacher Sarah Wiley is in her second year of teaching at HJHS. She said she read The Hunger Game books while in college. She used the first book last year as a way to bring English to the students in a relatable, interesting way, she said.
This year, the teachers decided to use the book to bring all the core seventh-grade classes together.
“It’s taught in every core class. It shows students that English, science, math, social studies – they all go together,” Wiley said.
The Hunger Games is the first in a series of three books, the second called Catching Fire, and the third Mockingjay. The book follows teen heroine Katniss Everdeen as she maneuvers through a North America that has been destroyed, divided into 12 districts and run by a corrupt Capitol. To remind the people that they are in control, the Capitol has already obliterated a “rebellious” thirteenth district and holds a the nationally televised Hunger Games each year. On the Day of Reaping, 24 children, or tributes, are selected to fight to the death in an arena set with deadly traps. One boy and one girl from each district is selected, and Katniss goes for District 12.
Tribute escort Effie Trinket is responsible for drawing the tributes’ names during the reaping ceremony. “Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor,” Effie says as the Hunger Games tributes are selected.
All teachers at HJHS who teach core classes decorated their doors to represent one of the districts. Each district in the Hunger Games produced something different for the Capitol. For example, District 12 produced coal, District 4 was responsible for fishing, District 8 produced textiles and Districts 11 was agricultural.
Social study teachers use the arena scenes from the Hunger Games to bring the history of the Roman gladiators and Greek mythology to life. Math teachers use the reaping ceremony to relate to the principle of probability in statistics. Then science teachers use the genetically-mutated animals in the arena of the Hunger Games to talk about genetics.
“My favorite part was the games in the arena. That’s where the climax is,” seventh grader Zak Wood said.
Classmate Aunikka Pershin said her favorite part of the book was when mutant mutts attacked in the arena.
“We learned it’s possible to actually mutate animals and make a different mutant,” she said.
The action of Katniss dodging fireballs in the arena was classmate Divan Patel’s favorite part, he said, but he also liked learning about odds and statistics using the Reaping ceremony.
“[The students] love it — maybe not every part of the book, but there’s something they like in it for everyone,” Wiley said. “Most have gone on to read the second and third books.”
Sheila Reeves is teaching eighth graders from the second book, Catching Fire, in her English classes, Wiley said.
The students will hold a theme day in the spring when the junior high will hold their own version of the Hunger Games, intertwining all of the core subjects.
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