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Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
April 2001

Discussion Questions for Selected Books

Ender's Game

1. How would Valentine and Peter act in battle school? Was the military right to assume they wouldn't be beneficial to the project?

2. In Ender's Game, how did Ender change and mature as the story progressed?

3. Even though Ender was never told that he had killed Stilson and Bonzo, he had some subconscious feelings to that effect. How did these feelings affect how Ender acted throughout the book?

4. During Ender's Game, the administration of the battle school tossed away the rules of the battle room as they applied to Dragon army. How did this affect the students, both in and out of Dragon army?

5. Discuss the various tactics used in the battle room situations. Can you think of any more good ideas for use in the battle room?

Speaker for the Dead

1. If you were traveling at "relativistic" speeds, the effects of space travel would cause you to age more slowly than the people you communicate with and than friends and family that you left behind. How would this make you feel; how would you deal with the separation and differences in our lives?

2. Why did Card choose the title Speaker for the Dead for this novel? What significance does this title have? Can you think of a better or more appropriate title?

3. What affect would it have on you if someone like Jane listened in to your thoughts at all times?

4. How has Ender grown and changed to this point?


1. Was it right or wrong to control the genius mind of the people of Path by genetically engineering them to have obsessive-compulsive disorder?

2. How do the names of the chapters relate to the rest of the story? What effects do the beginning pieces of chapters, for example e-mails and conversations between the Queen Bugger and Piggies, have? What do you think Card's goal was in using this technique? Did he accomplish this goal?

3. Why did Card choose the title Xenocide for this novel? What significance does this title have? Can you think of a better or more appropriate title?

4. What changes took place in the character of Ender during Xenocide?

Children of the Mind

1. How important in a person's life is his or her physical body? How did gaining a new, functional body affect Miro? How did Jane change after gaining a body?

2. Ender said that he was putting his family firs tat all times. When Ender's trip into space produced a young Jane and a young Peter, what does this say about his statement that all he cared about was his family? Is that statement untrue? Were the versions of Jane and Peter he produced the result of truly subconscious thought?

3. How did Ender finally growing old change him? How much has he truly matured?

Parallel Series

1. How would meeting the older Ender affect Bean, who was a friend when they were young?

2. Is it possible, in your opinion, for a very bright child to become a world leader? How do you think today's countries would react to such an occurrence?

3. Do you believe that Sister Carlotta should have kept secret the fact that Bean was genetically different and considered by some to not be human?

4. How do you feel about the moral issue of taking a child away from his or her family? Is it abuse? Is it detrimental? How would the child be different? When is it okay and not okay?

Suggested Activities

Original Locke and Demosthenes

  1. Direct students to use the internet, the library, and other resources to find information relating to the original Locke and Demosthenes.

  2. Lead students in a discussion of the following questions:

    a. What effect(s) did they have on the cultures that they lived in?

    b. Why might Orson Scott Card have chosen Locke and Demosthenes?

    c. Why might it be unusual that Locke was chosen for Peter and Demosthenes for Valentine?

Create your Own Species

  1. Divide the class into groups of three to five students. Tell the students that each group will create a new species. Direct each group to discuss the following aspects of its species' life and community:

    a. Appearance

    b. Form of communication

    c. Technological advancement

    d. Transportation

    e. Weapons

    f. Form of government (if any)

    g. Society

    h. Daily life

    i. Culture

    j. Religion

    k. Careers

    l. Social stratification

  2. After each group has had ample time to create the species, ask each group to pair up with another group and compare their species: e.g., how are their species similar or different; if they were in a war against each other, who would win and why. Direct the groups to discuss how the species would react in different situations such as:

    a. Being at one species' home planet or the others's

    b. Being in outer space

    c. Being on land, sea, air, etc.

    d. Being in an environment of fighting -- acid rain, fog, dark, light, etc.

    3. Allow the groups to share their species and outcomes with the class.

    4. Conclusion Questions:

    a. What characteristics were the most important to your species' success in a war?

    b. What were the most unusual things that each group came up with?

Communication Through Adversity

[Note to Teacher: This activity should be done outside.]


Place the following items on a table: banana slices, a jar of peanut butter, cucumber slices, honey, butter, bread, cheese, various deli meats, any other food suitable for making sandwiches, condiments, ice cream, and ice cream toppings.


  1. Divide the class into pairs

  2. Direct one student in each pair to request, without speaking, that the other student make him or her a particular sandwich (a peanut butter and banana sandwich or any other sandwich of his or her choice). Tell the students that verbal signals are now allowed.

  3. Next, cover the eyes of all students. Direct one student in each pair to ask the other student to make him or her an ice cream sundae.

Conclusion Questions:

  1. How did it feel to be unable to communicate with another person?

  2. Did you succeed in communicating with the other person in the group? If so, how did you accomplish this goal?

Live Chess


Find a large open area. Outline a normal chess grid on that field with tape or squares of paper. Each square should be at least 1 yard by 1 yard.


  1. Select two students to be the chess players. Assign the rest of the students the roles of chess pieces (these students will move just like the chess pieces they are assigned to represent).

  2. As a class, set a point value for each piece.

  3. Proceed through the game as you would a regular game of chess, with the student chess players telling the student chess pieces how to move.

  4. The winner receives the points (specified earlier) for each person in his or her army of chess pieces who remains standing at the end of the game.

Conclusion Discussion:

  1. What affect does assigning a value to each person have on the play?

  2. Is it more useful to give specific or general commands in such a setting?

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