In tandem with developing a shared reading and conversational experience for students, the One Book Program also encourages a collaborative teaching community. Learn more about the themes and experiences described in the book.
In addition to the Teaching the One Book Program Brown Bag offered by the Center for Teaching and Learning, we have collected ideas from faculty across campus to offer a launching pad to generate ideas for your courses below.
The following are a few resources to go beyond the book, including discussion questions, classroom resources, links, and cultural resources.
If you create an assignment that proves to be effective for your class and would like to share it, please send it to Hellen Lee at email@example.com. We'll post it among the resources below!
Also, please check back on this page regularly since more information will be added as materials are developed and become available.
In the Classroom
Paper Topic: Storytelling
Full Body Burden demonstrates the importance of different kinds of storytelling as means to get to a truth, such as reporting, oral stories, and visual methods.
- Storytelling as investigating/examining personal histories: Investigate a personal story in your own life and write about it in a journalistic style, trying to be objective and free of personal bias. For example, some family practices, or "traditions," evolved over time and we have forgotten where they came from. Choose one from your own family and interview friends and family members to find out more about it.
- Storytelling as investigating/examining political histories: Follow up on a political event and see what you discover. For example, Iversen describes several public demonstrations and they are given different meanings and values over the course of the narrative. Choose a recent public event to investigate more deeply and write about your experience of discovery and what you find.
- Storytelling as investigating/examining society and cultural values: Take a cultural story (or so-call urban legends) and find out how it began and why we continue to tell those stories. For example, the idea of the happy, middle-class, suburban family--where does it come from? How did it get started? Why do we keep referring to it?
- Alternate forms of storytelling: In one scene in the book, the family is asked to draw pictures of "home." Each family member draws something different. Ask students to draw a picture of a topic or issue that is relevant to the class. Ask the students to write a quick, informal essay explaining why they chose to focus on what they did. Use the drawing and the essay as a catalyst for discussion.
Classroom Activity: Small Group
Full Body Burden offers a vast array of topics that can be pursued by students in small groups. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Discussion Topic: Poetry and Politics. The poem at the end of the book, “Plutonian Ode” by Allen Ginsberg, was written on the occasion of the 1978 Rocky Flats protest and specifically refers to Rockwell, Rocky Flats, and other nuclear weapons facilities. In it, Ginsberg describes plutonium as a “dreadful presence,” a “delusion of metal empires,” and as “matter that renders Self oblivion.” Why then does he call the poem an “ode”? How does the poem reinforce the message of the book?
- Discussion Topic: Science, Ethics, and Governmental Transparency. During the Cold War, an impenetrable veil existed between the nuclear weapons industry and the general public. The U.S. government considered this secrecy necessary for national security. Do you think there is any way the government could have communicated more to the general public without jeopardizing the nation’s safety?
- Discussion Topic: Communications v. Secrets. We live in the era of FaceBook, Twitter, and other forms of social media, as well as organizations that seek transparency in government, such as WikiLeaks. Do you think the level of secrecy maintained by the DOE and the operators of Rocky Flats during much of the plant’s history could be maintained today?
Classroom Activity or Paper Topics
Some topics might be best developed through multiple modes. Here are some topics that can begin through either writing or discussion and then further investigated or developed through another mode of learning.
- Do you live near a nuclear site or nuclear power plant? If so, has your state or local government informed you of the potential risks of living near such a facility, or about emergency response plans in the event of a serious accident involving radioactive contamination?
- Full Body Burden contains many surprising facts about Rocky Flats and about radioactive contamination, such as the fact that a single microgram of plutonium is a potentially lethal dose (p. 24) or that in 1970 there was no emergency response plan to protect the public in the event of a major disaster at Rocky Flats (p. 67). What fact made the deepest impression on you?
- From Fluffy to Tonka to the wild rabbits and deer at the Rocky Flats site to the deformed chickens, animals are a constant presence in the book. What role do animals play in the storyline?
In the Community
Service Learning Activity
Sac State Serves is a community service program open to the campus community. Faculty, staff, students, and alumni are invited to take part in local, single-day service projects throughout the year. Please contact the Community Engagement Center for assistance.
- Building on the connection between science and environment described in Full Body Burden, create a service learning project that connects students to a local non-profit organization in the community that need volunteers. Follow up with a paper asking students to write about the experience.
- Building on the political activism surrounding national policy described in Full Body Burden, create a service learning project that connects students to a local non-profit organization in the community that need volunteers. Follow up with a paper asking students to write about the experience.
- Building on the theme of family dynamics described in Full Body Burden, create a service learning project that connects students to a local non-profit organization in the community that need volunteers. Follow up with a paper asking students to write about the experience.
- Building on the attention to political activism surrounding health described in Full Body Burden, create a service learning project that connects students to a local non-profit organization in the community that need volunteers. Follow up with a paper asking students to write about the experience.
- Building on the correlation between poetics and politics raised in Full Body Burden, create a service learning project that connects students to a local non-profit organization in the community that need volunteers. Follow up with a paper asking students to write about the experience.
Other Links and Resources
Here are a few links to get you started in developing your classes and lesson plans. If you come across other helpful links, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can add them to the list!
Resources available at the University Library
For more information
The following sites contain further information on Rocky Flats, including maps, timelines, graphs, images, and other content. The One Book Program does not necessarily endorse, support, or disagree with any of the sites included below. They are provided only as a point of departure for your own research as you prepare your classes.
Radioactivity and Rocky Flats
- Full Body Burden
- NPR Interview, "Under The 'Nuclear Shadow' Of Colorado's Rocky Flats"
- Fallout Report
- The Rocky Flats Cold War Museum
- Rocky Flats Virtual Museum
- Colorado Department of Public Health, Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division: Rocky Flats
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Rocky Flats
- U.S. Department of Energy, Legacy Management Sites: Rocky Flats
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge: Rocky Flats
- The Atlantic: "A September 11th Catastrophe You've Probably Never Heard About" by Andrew Cohen
- Google images for "Rocky Flats plutonium contamination
- Sacramento State University, Department of Physics
Health and Family Issues and Topics
- Sacramento State University Alcohol, Tobacco, & and Other Drug Education Program
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fast Stats: Alcohol Use
- Sacramento State University, Department of Child Development
Full Body Burden is also available in accessible formats from the office of Services to Students with Disabilities High Tech Center (SSWD) through Bookshare.org (free membership for all U.S. students with qualifying disabilities). Please contact SSWD at email@example.com or (916) 278-6955 or (916) 278-7239 (TTY) for assistance.