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The City of Ember

The City of Ember


by Jeanne DuPrau
A Literature and Film Guide
for Educators

Created and Compiled by Melissa A. McCleary

The City of Ember

Getting Started
Synopsis
When mankind is about to come to an end, a group of scientists decide to create and
populate a city deep underground. The city of Ember is to last for 200 years after which
its inhabitants are to retrieve from a strong box of instructions to return to the surface.
Over time however, the message is lost and life in Ember is rapidly deteriorating. Their
power supply is failing and food is being rationed. It's left to two young adults to unearth
the secret of Ember and to lead the way out.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0970411/plotsummary
Target Audience/Grades:
5th 7th
Vocabulary
Endeavor
Strewn
Lurk
Egress
Convoluted
Catastrophe

Raucous
Kiosk
Turbulent
Crevice
Saunter
Ochers

Disreputable
Rivulet
Mottle
Amble

Discussion Questions for the Book/Movie:


Before Reading
1. What sort of problems are there in the environment today?
2. How can a crisis bring out the best on some and the worst in others?
After Reading
1. What different reactions may there be in Ember when they discover the surface
with Lina and Doon?
2. Does power corrupt?
3. What does ember mean? How is this a fitting name for the city?
4. How is light versus dark symbolic in the story?

The City of Ember

Cross-Curricular Activities
ENVIRONMENTAL CARE: Before the City of Ember
Description:
Students answer the question, What do you think happened before the City of Ember
was built? To do this, students will research current concerns regarding pollution,
environmental care, etc. to create their own theories.
Adaptations:
n/a
Final Product/Assessment:
Students create a one page newspaper with information explaining why the city was built.
Columns/articles can include current statistics and facts about pollution, quotes from the
builders, and concerns about the human population in general.
Rationale/Motivation:
Students can explore current events and concerns regarding the environment in the
context of this futuristic and fictional society. Students will also begin to understand
cause and effect relationships.
Resources:
n/a
PDE SAS Standards:
4.5.3.A: Identify resources humans take from the environment for their survival.
4.5.7.C: Explain how human actions affect the health of the environment.
1.4.6.B: Write multi-paragraph informational pieces (e.g., letters, descriptions,
reports, instructions, essays, articles, interviews).
o Use relevant graphics (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, tables, illustrations,
photographs).
o Use sources, as appropriate, to task.

The City of Ember

UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT: Checks and Balances in Ember*


Description:
In Ember, we discover the mayor has become corrupt. Students will explore the very
different structure of the separation of powers in the U.S. government and apply it to the
City of Ember. The students will be split into three groups and each will research one
branch of government (executive, judicial, and legislative). Students will then work
together as they represent their branches of government to find solutions in Emberite
scenarios.
Adaptations:
For larger classes, students can be split into six groups (two groups for each of the three
branches) and work in two sets instead of one when the scenarios are presented.
Final Product/Assessment:
Skits in solution to various scenarios presented. Students must enact various checks and
balances in the context of the City of Ember.
Rationale/Motivation:
A connection to United States Government as well as further exploration of the world of
the Emberites. By taking the fictional story into a new context, students can further
understand the value of reading between the lines.
Resources:
Checks and Balances Research http://www.socialstudieshelp.com/Lesson_13_Notes.htm
http://regentsprep.org/Regents/ushisgov/themes/government/checks.htm
PDE SAS Standards:
5.3.C.A: Examine the process of checks and balances among the three branches
of government, including the creation of law.
5.3.5.A: Describe the responsibilities and powers of the three branches of
government.
5.2.5.A: Identify individual rights and needs and the rights and needs of others in
the classroom, school, community, state, and nation.

*Lesson Plan for UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT: Checks and Balances in Ember activity at the end
of packet

The City of Ember

MAPPING: Where in Ember in Lina?


Description:
Use the map of Ember to follow Linas path in the book Students can use these maps to
write up their own directions and then quiz each other to try to lead a partner to the
proper destination. Make sure students use terminology such as North, blocks, and street
names). Students can do the reverse of this: teachers hand out a starting and final
destination and students must find the quickest way there.
Adaptations:
What is different about the movie? Are some things in different places? Draw your own
map of the City of Ember. Put in the most important places and use a legend to depict
certain regions and places.
Final Product/Assessment:
An activity where students attempt to trick each other with map directions and find out
the puzzle of someone elses map
Rationale/Motivation:
Resources:
Map of Ember
http://www.mce.k12tn.net/reading52/map.htm
PDE SAS Standards:
7.1.5.A: Describe how common geographic tools are used to organize and
interpret information about people, places, and environment.
7.1.5.B: Describe and locate places and regions as defined by physical and
human features.

The City of Ember

SYMBOLISM: When is a Moth not a Moth?


Description:
As the story progresses, Doon watches the progress of a worm, but soon discovers that
it is actually a moth. Point out the symbolism of the moth and its representation of
transformation and why the moth is appropriate as a symbol for this. Connect the
moth symbol with other stories Challenge your students to find other symbols in the
novel and the movie.
Adaptations:
Students may select one element of symbolism they found in the movie/book and
research it more deeply. What other literature does it appear in? What is its
significance? Can it represent other things?
Final Product/Assessment:
A list of symbolism from the movie and book
A report or poster about one other symbolic element in the film/book. The report
should include the symbols meaning, where it appears in the book, and what
other works of literature the symbol appears in.
Rationale/Motivation:
Reading into the text can bring new awareness and interest to the novel, especially for
students who may have previously read it. As it becomes more popular, chances are you
will have students in class who have read the novel will need an extra challenge. Finding
hidden symbols can be a rewarding activity for them.
Resources:
Hunger Games Ch. 21, p. 289 The last thing I remember is an exquisitely beautiful
green-and-silver moth landing on the curve of my wrist.
Animal symbolism
http://www.whats-your-sign.com/animal-symbolism-moth.html
PDE SAS Standards:
1.3.5.D: Describe how the author uses literary devices to convey meaning (e.g.,
personification, simile, alliteration, symbolism, metaphor).
1.3.6.C: Compare the literary elements within and among texts used by an author,
including characterization, setting, plot, theme, and point of view.
R6.B.1.1.1: Identify, explain, interpret, compare, describe, and/or analyze
components of fiction and literary nonfiction.

The City of Ember

INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES AND MANAGEMENT


LESSON PLAN FORMAT
Name: Melissa McCleary
Title of Unit: The City of Ember
Title of Lesson: Checks and Balances in Ember
Grade Level(s): 5th 7th

Goal: Students will apply the information from an outside culture in order to
create impromptu solutions to possible problems. Students will learn and apply the
checks and balances of the U.S. Government.
Objective(s):
TSW: Explore the corrupt society of Ember and apply the principles of the U.S.
branches of government in order to formulate solutions.

Standards/Assessment Anchors:
PA State Standards:
5.3.C.A: Examine the process of checks and balances among the three branches of
government, including the creation of law.
5.3.5.A: Describe the responsibilities and powers of the three branches of government.
5.2.5.A: Identify individual rights and needs and the rights and needs of others in the
classroom, school, community, state, and nation.

Content Knowledge
Procedures:
Lesson Beginning (Include Review and Introduction Procedures)
Introduction:
1. Review the mayors crime (stealing food from the Ember food stores, as well as
giving food to Lizzie to sell in the store) in Ember by reviewing Chapter 12, A
Dreadful Discovery. Discuss the behavior of the mayor as an official of the city.
2. Ask students if this could happen if the mayor had not had so much power. What
would have happened if someone had a check on the mayor?
Lesson Body (Instruction, Practice/Feedback, Student Involvement)

The City of Ember

Activity Intro:
1. Teach or review the checks and balances of the U.S. government. Note that there
are three branches of government (legislative, executive, judicial) and how none
of them can function as completely independent of one another and, thus, not one
can gain too much power.
2. Pass out a worksheet so students may take notes on each branch. During the
lecture and during small group work.
3. Explain the activity:
a. Students will break into three groups to represent the three branches of
government. They will closely research their own branch and then present
a short oral report on their powers, and checks and balances on the other
two branches.
b. Students will present an oral report on their branchs information so all
students will be aware of what powers the legislative, executive, and
judicial branches have.
c. Physically separate groups and allow them to create a sign with their name
and a pictorial representation of themselves.
d. Groups will then be presented with short scenarios (see Appendix B). The
group members will then need to work with other branches in order to
solve their scenarios. After each scenario, students should present their
solution using a short sketch (time pending)
e. The teacher should act as a guide and a devils advocate. The teacher will
remind students of powers and the society of Ember when necessary, but
will ultimately leave decisions up to the class.
4. NOTE: Creative classes may be able to come up with their own scenarios relevant
to Ember and the society/government. If possible, allow groups to write down
these scenarios to be approved by the teacher for use.
Lesson Ending (Review/Closure; Preview of Next Lesson)
1. After the scenarios, the class will come together. Discuss the following questions:
a. What did having checks and balances do with each scenario?
b. Is this an effective way to prevent corruption?
c. Would this form of government have altered any events in Ember?
2. Open the floor for any other discussion questions the students may want to
address regarding government and the society of Ember.
Materials:

Checks and Balances Worksheet (see Appendix A)


Pencils
Scenarios (See Appendix B)
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Projector and computer (optional)
Space for Acting
Paper

The City of Ember

Art supplies (for signs)

References:
http://www.socialstudieshelp.com/Lesson_13_Notes.htm
http://regentsprep.org/Regents/ushisgov/themes/government/checks.htm
Special Adaptations:

For larger classes, students can be split into six groups (two groups for each of the
three branches) and work in two sets instead of one when the scenarios are
presented.

Anticipated Difficulties:

Students may have difficulty working on two scenarios at once (the one they are
presented with and the one another branch must work with them on). To alleviate
this, pair students up from each branch before handing out the scenarios. This
will save students a step as they will not need to decide what branch holds a check
over them and will allow more time to be put in to the skits.

The City of Ember

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Appendix A

Three Branches of United States Government


Separation of Powers Checks and Balances

Legislative Branch Powers


______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

Executive Branch Powers

______________________________________

______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

Judicial Branch Powers


______________________________________
______________________________________
Directions:
Fill in each branchs powers on the lines provided. Write
the branchs checks and balances over other branches
within the correct arrows.
Do your research!

______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

The City of Ember


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Appendix B
Ember Scenarios
Cut up each slip and present it to the proper group. Create your own or allow students to write
their own as well!

You are the Legislative branch of government, but one branch cannot survive on its own! Find
out who you need to work with to complete your scenario and what checks and balances need to
be used.
You are working on a bill that will allow Emberite children to select their job when they
turn 12. Who do you work with to make this bill? Pair up with some people from this
branch and create a short skit.

You are the Judicial branch of government, but one branch cannot survive on its own! Find out
who you need to work with to complete your scenario and what checks and balances need to be
used.
You need a new judge since one of yours has become lost in the Unknown Regions of
Ember. How do you go about getting one? Pair up with some people from the branch
you need to work with and create a short skit.

You are the Executive branch of government, but one branch cannot survive on its own! Find
out who you need to work with to complete your scenario and what checks and balances need to
be used.
You wish to pardon a man convicted of breaking into the greenhouses to steal food for
his family. Who do you need to work with? Pair up with some people from this branch
and create a short skit.