Savvy educators are known to seize on a current event the Egyptian revolution, the inauguration of Americas first black president to enliven a lesson and make it real for students.
Eighth-grade teachers at Saluda Trail Middle School in Rock Hill are taking that notion further.
They banded together and latched on to the pop culture phenomenon that is The Hunger Games, crafting lessons and activities that have captivated students and united the entire grade level.
It made school more interesting, Chris Smith, 14, said. It made us sad when class was over. If they would do it more, it would get students more involved. I would recommend the book to every middle school.
From essays and reading assignments in English class to probability lessons in math to archery in gym, teachers built much of the semester around the young-adult novel that Bloomberg Businessweek magazine called the new Lord of the Flies.
Weeks of work culminated with a field trip to see the film followed by the schools version of The Hunger Games, which teachers orchestrated as a field day of competitive games.
The experiment was an unparalleled success, which the teachers said they hope to replicate.
Were trying to get away from sit down, take notes, take a test, be bored, said Jason Hunsinger, who teaches language arts and math.
With the explosion of adolescent fiction following the blockbuster Harry Potter and Twilight series, educators are capitalizing on hype surrounding such books to turn teens onto reading.
But its unusual for teachers across subjects to come together like those at Saluda Trail did, said Robert Prickett, a Winthrop University assistant professor of English education.
Their work is encouraging and should be copied, Prickett said.
Whats amazing to me is the number of teachers and size of the group, he said. Were pushing that cross collaboration (among teachers). This is a prime example.
Hunger Games is an amazing book, said CorTionna White, a 13-year-old Saluda Trail eighth-grader. It has so much spirit and culture.
Saluda Trail English teachers Angie Creagh and Jean Stillman were chatting about basing a novel study on The Hunger Games nearly a year ago.
With all the attention the book received, plus the film, they saw an opportunity to spark interest in a book that fit perfectly in the curriculum.
The book is just rich with literary devices we are responsible for teaching, Creagh said.
Ive never had 86 kids engaged, begging to read, Stillman said.