Subject Area: Language Arts, Social Studies Subject Area: Language Arts
Reading Level: 5.9
Do you ever wish you could turn younger instead of older? Melly and Anny Beth, two elderly women living out their final days in a nursing home, were granted that impossible wish. Chosen to participate in Project Turnabout, they were given a shot to reverse the aging process. Growing younger each day, they must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of discovering the fountain of youth. When they learn that the final injection — the one needed to stop their "unaging" — is actually lethal, the 15-year-old girls escape Project Turnabout and learn to look after each other. But what will happen when they are too young to even care for themselves? In Turnabout, award-winning author Margaret Peterson Haddix creates an extraordinary sci-fi thriller that explores our society's fascination with youth and desire for immortality.
Students will explore and deeply understand a major theme in the novel. They will accomplish this learning goal by writing persuasive arguments based on textual evidence and by participating in a group debate.
Standard: Writes persuasive compositions
Ask students to write in their journals about the following:
Would you ever want to be younger? Why or why not? If so, how young would you want to be? What would be the best and worst parts of being this age again? Be detailed and explain your responses fully.
- Invite students to share and discuss their ideas. Focus on the advantages and disadvantages of being younger. For example, a student might choose to be a baby again because he/she is cared for completely, but then realize that babies mainly spend their time eating and sleeping, which seems very boring.
- How do the characters in Turnabout feel about the "unaging" process? Based on their experiences, what are the advantages/disadvantages of growing younger? As the discussion continues, ask students to give specific examples from the text to prove their points.
- Explain that the class is going to participate in a Project Turnabout Debate. Divide students into two sides: Pro-Turnabouts and Anti-Turnabouts. They can choose their side based on personal preference. However, you may want to select the teams in case the sides are unevenly numbered. The Pro-Turnabouts will support the unaging process, while the Anti-Turnabouts will oppose it. Give students this question to consider: Should people be allowed to reverse the aging process?
- Once students choose their sides, they will each write a persuasive argument based on personal opinions and textual evidence. They should copy it on an index card for quick reference during the debate.
- With the class's input, set up a list of rules or guidelines for the debate. For example, "One person speaks at a time" or "Always give evidence to support your point." This will help with the management and organization of the activity.
- Start the debate. Students will debate the issue by presenting ideas from their individual persuasive arguments. Be sure that each side has equal time to present. Choose two students to give closing arguments. If you want to foster competition, ask an impartial judge to determine a winner. If not, emphasize that both sides performed well in the debate, and these discussions will continue in the future.
Discussion Guide (to follow the Turnabout Debate Activity)
- What did you enjoy most about the debate? Least? Why?
- Which argument did you find most convincing? Why?
- Did you ever change your mind about your original position? When? Why?
- How does this debate change/affect your responses to the Warm-up Activity? Explain.
- What did you learn about the advantages/disadvantages of Project Turnabout?
Another Story About Immortality
by Natalie Babbitt
In this classic fantasy and adventure story set in the 19th century, a young girl meets a family of humans who can live forever.
Other Books by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Hidden
Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey
Running Out of Time
Teaching Plan written by Lauren Gold.