A high school teacher conducts a social experiment to teach his students about the atrocities of the Holocaust. However, the wave starts to spin out of control for Mr. Ross and the students of Gordon High School.
For this book, we offer a mix of literary and informational texts to support your upcoming novel unit. These lessons are designed to build students’ reading comprehension and engagement.
Introduction to the Holocaust
This informational text explains what the Holocaust was, who it affected, who carried it out, and how it ended.
Introduce this text before students read the novel to provide background information on Hitler, the Nazi Party, and the Holocaust — the historical source of inspiration for the social experiment that takes place in The Wave. Pair The Wave with “Introduction to the Holocaust,” and ask students to discuss if they believe the Holocaust could happen in today’s world. Ask students to use information from the text and history to support their answers.
The drive to conform to group norms is a powerful force in most people's lives. This informational text about conformity helps explain why people tend to match their beliefs and behaviors to those around them.
Have students read this text before reading Chapter 6 of The Wave in order to apply social theories to their character analysis. Pair “Conformity,” with The Wave, and ask students to consider how the three major types of conformity apply to the way the students at Gordon High conform to the new norms created by the wave.
The Blue-Eyed, Brown-Eyed Exercise
In "The Blue-Eyed, Brown-Eyed Exercise," third grade teacher Jane Elliot conducted a social experiment to teach her students about prejudice and discrimination.
Introduce this text after students have read the novel in order to generate discussion on the merits of social experiments within the classroom. Have students compare "The Blue-eyed, Brown-eyed Exercise" to "The Wave" at Gordon School. What were the intentions of Ben Ross and Jane Elliot in each experiment? In what ways were the experiments successful or failures? In what ways were the student responses predictable or unpredictable?
The Third Wave
The Third Wave was an experimental social movement created by high school history teacher Ron Jones in 1967 to explain how the German populace could accept the actions of the Nazi regime during the Second World War. While he taught his students about Nazi Germany during his "Contemporary World History" class, Jones found it difficult to explain how the German people could accept the actions of the Nazis, and decided to create a social movement as a demonstration of the appeal of fascism. As the movement grew outside his class and began to number in the hundreds, Jones began to feel that the movement had spiraled out of control.
Introduce this text after students complete the novel in order for students to analyze and compare fictional and nonfictional accounts of the same event. Pair The Wave and “The Third Wave,” and ask students to discuss the ending of The Wave and the outcome of the experiment. How does the novel compare to the actual account of the real wave experiment? Do you think this exercise was effective? Why or why not? Use evidence from the texts to support your answer.