Lord of the Flies-Surviving Sophomore Island

June 4, 2012 — 2 Comments


This is the bold notice at the top of each of five blogs that the grade 10 teachers organized for teaching William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies. This survival game is played in the English World Literature course at the end of the school year. The intent is to engage an entire grade level of 10th grade students in discussing a text without the limitations of the class schedule.

The game is simple: there are five teams (red, yellow, blue, green and orange) that are invited to a blog to respond to posts within a short period. Once the students are sorted onto teams (2 or three in each class period on one team), they respond to a post on their team’s blog using the comment box. Points are awarded on the percentage of team participants who respond to a blog post, and the winning team receives a 100% test grade.

The five posts on each blog are scenarios adapted from a number of similar activities I have found on the Internet. We used Blogger for our platform without much difficulty last year; this year their new interface has been glitchy, but since the game is about survival of the fittest, we have soldiered on! Each post deals with a scenario similar to the daily experiences of Ralph, Piggy, Jack and the choirboys, etc. The posts are uploaded over the course of a  two week period.

Post #1 deals with a list of 15-20 resources that were “recovered from the plane.” The post asks students to comment individually, “What do you do now?”

Post #2 poses the next complication suggesting that a giant storm seriously damaged their resources, “So, what happened to the supplies you gathered yesterday?” (ex: Bed Sheets: blew away in the storm last night; mosquito netting: large gashes/holes created by trees in the storm)
“What do you and your fellow survivors do now? What supplies do you have remaining? How are you using these remaining supplies?”

Post#3 Provides directions for shelter, fire and potable water. The post reads, “While you and some members of your group were building the shelters, digging the fire pit, and setting up the water supply; two (2) of your members decide that they are tired of working and want to go swimming instead. What do you do with the slackers in your group?”

Post #4 begins, “You wake up on the third morning to find that half of the food you had taken from the plane and gathered since is gone. Either some sort of animal has taken it, or one of your group members has taken it and hidden it for himself or herself. You start out the day suspicious of the other members of the group – and hungry!
• What sorts of rules/procedures are you going to put in place to make sure your food and water supplies do not get stolen or contaminated?
• Now that you are suspicious of your other group members, how are you going to act around them? Are you going to be able to continue to work together? What is your plan for discovering who took the food? What will you do with that person when you find him or her?”

Post #5 is the final opportunity for students to participate. The post reads, “A ship is in sight! You are going to be rescued! Now that rescue is in sight, how do you feel? What was your favorite part about being stranded? What was the worst? Compare your situation to the boys in Lord of the Flies. Who had it better? Why? If you had been stranded with the characters, what would you have done?”

This year’s comments were similar to responses from previous years with team members discussing suggestions for survival:

  • Nobody goes off exploring alone, pretty much NOBODY GOES ANYWHERE ALONE. We don’t know what’s on the island but if we stay together and work as one, unified, force; we will get off of this island alive. There’s no doubt in my mind that we WILL get off of this island. 
  • Water will be gathered by our “plastic bags” that we have laid out in a hole, held together by rocks. The water will be collected by nearby dewey grass etc. The rest of our plastic bags will be placed in a hole on top of a cup-or carved out fruit shell if cups are not available. 
  • The food has already been taken. Yes, it is maddening that one on our own team would have taken food from their own, but what can you do? I would move on, with a warning that if this ever happens again, whomever dared to steal twice will be exiled.
  • To deal with the ones that aren’t helping, we should put dead fish in their beds and then we’ll see who doesn’t wanna work then. 🙂 
  • Our slackers on the other hand will be banned from any rations of food caught by our hunters. The only way to become accepted is to find food elsewhere, and make sure (the slackers) they are able to feed the rest of the group.
  • To keep the fire going there should be a 2 person shift, and while one sleeps the other maintains the fire. The shift will be rotated i.e. 2 new people every night. 
  •  im surviving so as long as the slackers arent affecting me then they’re not my problem, if they were affecting me then id prbably end up killing them in a survival situation
  •  You never know who it could be so there’s always that feeling of suspicion while you’re near and working with the other group members
  • For the slackers, they can continue to eat the food and stay in the shelters. Karma will get em.
While Golding did not write Lord of the Flies as an adventure story that is in the same genre as Robert Louis Stevenson’s  Robinson Crusoe or Robert Zemeckis’s film Castaway with Tom Hanks, there are elements of survival that make the book appealing to 10th graders. Once they are placed on “Sophomore Island,” the Blogger platform lets them communicate their expectations as to what might happen in the unlikely event they were marooned with classmates. Not surprisingly, they often found themselves frustrated and caught in similar power struggles as those between Jack and the hunters and Ralph and Piggy. Once they are on “Sophomore Island” they discover Golding’s real reason for the novel, for the Lord of the Flies who challenges them by asking, “I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are the way they are?”  Their virtual experience on “Sophomore Island” helps them understand why Ralph would weep “for the end of innocence.”

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Lord of the Flies-Surviving Sophomore Island | Eleanore's Ramblings… - June 6, 2012

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  2. Why I Blog: The One Year Anniversary of Used Books in Class | Used Books in Class - July 3, 2012

    […] to increase student reading and writing collaboration. Our Lord of the Flies unit included “survival activities” on team blogs for 10 graders. The freshmen classes used a blog in different ways: to record […]

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