Life As We Knew It Unit- For the Teacher

  Project Overview


Name of Project:


Life As We Knew It Activities and Story Guidelines




Four weeks


Language Arts/ English Literature

 Teacher(s): For the public

Grade Level:

7th and 8th


Other Subject Areas to Be Included, if any:



Project Idea

Summary of the issue, challenge, investigation, scenario, or problem:

Students will read a novel and based out of the knowledge and information they gain from the story, they will perform daily activities to test their comprehension skills, such as crossword puzzles, and a summary assessment. They will complete assignments to test their collaboration, critical thinking, and writing skills to help them prepare for the future of the 21st century.

Driving Question

 How can we help students develop their depth of knowledge about a novel?

CCSS to be taught and assessed:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1                    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.5

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.10                    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.9

   CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.7                  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.6

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2                     CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3                           CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4                                            


Additional Standards to be taught and assessed:




21st Century Competencies to be taught and assessed:



Creativity & Innovation


Communication (Oral Presentation)


Multimedia knowledge


Critical Thinking


Analyzing skills



Major Products & Performances



Multimedia and summative project

Presentation Audience

Presentation Audience:

    Class

  School









Spring, summer, fall and winter formative projects, writing assessment, summative assessment, depth of knowledge questions, literary questions, nonfiction article questions, extra vocabulary assignments, and non-fiction article questions.







    Project Overview


Entry Event to

launch inquiry

and engage students:

 Predict: The title of the book, Life As We Knew It, gives you what kind of a mood or tone about how the story’s plot will unfold?



Formative Assessments

(During Project)



Practice Presentations


Dialectical Journal





Preliminary Plans/Outlines/Prototypes





Rough Drafts


Concept Maps








Summative Assessments

(End of Project)

Written Product(s), with rubric:

Writing assessment.




Other Product(s) or Performance(s), with

rubric: Dialogue, dialectical journal, formative, and multimedia assessments


Oral Presentation, with rubric


Peer Evaluation



Multiple Choice/Short Answer Worksheets





Essay Prompt



Other: N/A





Resources Needed

On-site people, facilities:

Language arts teachers, language arts department, schooloop


Video Editing, camcorder, ipad/laptop/computer, Microsoft word or powerpoint


Paper, pencil, pen, highlighter, Life As We Knew It book, graphic organizer charts, depth of knowledge question and literary elements chart, dialectical journal chart, CD, project management log, concept maps chart, and elements of literature chart, a matter of fiction, and depth of knowledge levels.

Community resources:


Reflection Methods

(Individual, Group, and/or Whole Class)


Journal/Learning Log


Focus Group



Whole-Class Discussion




Fishbowl Discussion



Multimedia Project



Dialectical Journal



Biography of Susan Beth Pfeffer (Author of LIfe As We Knew It)

 Born in New York City in 1948, Pfeffer grew up in the city and its nearby suburbs and spent summers in the Catskill Mountains. At the age of six, when her father wrote and published a book on constitutional law, Pfeffer decided she, too, wanted to be a writer; that year, she wrote her first story about the love between an Oreo cookie and a pair of scissors.  However, it wasn't until 1970 that her first book, Just Morgan, was published. She wrote it during her last semester at New York University; since then, she has been a full-time writer for young peopleShe now lives now in Middletown, New York. She has been writing since 1970, and has over sixty books to her credit. Her inspiration is very creditable and unbelievable. Without her dad, Susan wouldn’t be the woman she is today.

List of Characters With Descriptions

Miranda Evans: She is the main character, or protagonist, in the story. This 16-year-old teenage girl is described as skinny due to the lack of food, with green eyes and brown hair. The young adult lives with her two brothers, Matt and Jonny Evans, and her mom. Throughout the novel, Miranda clearly assesses the situations around her and is sensible about it. She cares about her family and goes through phases that normal teenagers don’t happen to reckon. Although she argues with her mom a lot, Miranda doesn’t complain about what she has and thus is a thankful child. She usually doesn’t loose her temper unless she is extremely concerned about someone or something.

Matt Evans: The 19-year-old teenage boy is described as muscular, tall, and skinny, also due to the lack of food. He is the oldest child in the family and was in college when the asteroid struck the moon. Known to be the “dad” of the house, he cares for his family, especially his little sister Miranda, and helps her with her problems. He rarely complains or whines and does several of the household chores, like cutting wood for kindling, for his family.

Mom (Laura; Mrs. Evans): She is a caring, deprived-of-food mother, who will even use her last source energy to nurture her children. She sacrifices her food for them and doesn’t like it when they bicker. She never gets mad at Jonny or matt, but mostly gets furious at Miranda for yelling at her.

Jonny Evans: Miranda’s youngest brother who dreams of becoming a baseball player. He doesn’t realize his family has full faith on him to survive the disaster, and becomes annoyed when he realizes they are starving themselves.

Ms. Nesbitt: An old lady who is considered to be part of the Evan family. She tended Miranda’s mother since she was a young child, and her love for the family has grown over the years. Before she dies of cold, she tells Miranda to strip her house of any items useful for survival and Miranda collects Ms. Nesbitt’s well water.

Dad: He is divorced to Mrs. Evans, Miranda’s mom. He remarried a young women named Lisa.

Lisa: Miranda’s stepmother who becomes pregnant. She and Miranda’s dad ask her to be the baby’s godmother.

Megan: Miranda’s overly religious friend. After their best friend Becky passes away, her interest towards Church increased. She begins to starve herself at the beginning of the moon incident because her pastor told her that God is punishing sinful humans and eventually dies, praying to go to Heaven.

Sammi: Another of Miranda’s friends who is a “player” and has had numerous boyfriends and tends to fight with her friend, Megan, frequently, who believes she is living an immoral life. Shortly after the incident, she leaves with her 40-year-old boyfriend George down to Dallas and gets pregnant.

Becky: Miranda, Megan, and Sammi’s best friend who dies of cancer and is the initial bond between the friends.  Miranda often pictures her in her dreams.

Peter: Miranda’s mom’s boyfriend who is a doctor. He works at the hospital saving people’s lives during the flue season, but dies alongside with them several months later.

Horton: The Evan family’s cat who adores Jonny and originally runs away when Miranda opens the front door. However, he returns home anyways.

Dan: Miranda and him have a short affair while they go swimming at the local pond, Miller’s pond. He leaves to California soon after discovering his sister, who lives there, is dead.

Brandon: An ice-skater, from their town in Howell, Pennsylvania, who is training for the Olympics. Miranda idolizes him and she follows him on his fan page. She meets him at the ice rink and skates with him shortly.

Reverend Marshall: The pastor at Megan’s church who tells his Congregation that for God to sustain them, they must repay him with food to thank him for his preaching, which is a completely false notion. This angers Miranda, since he has more food to eat than anyone else. 

Information about the Setting

The book, Life As We Knew It, takes place in northeastern Pennsylvania or in a city called Howell. Miranda and her friends mainly live in a suburb-like town. Everything turns upside down because of one asteroid. The streets were filled with laughter and joy. Schools had lots of people. Even the neighborhood had a swimming pool. The days are getting shorter, and the city town is only giving out little portions of the food.

Life As We Knew It Book Summary

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is a riveting novel where, through diary entries, we learn how a girl, Miranda, and her family learn to survive after a major catastrophe hits the earth. The story begins anti-climatically with Miranda simply describing her workload and school, one thing that she mentions that is important is that an asteroid will be hitting the moon soon. The actual event is almost like a festival, but when the asteroid hits the moon, something goes wrong. The astronomers had incorrectly predicted the size and weight of the asteroid and the effects are disastrous. The asteroid hit the moon, causing it to go off kilter and come much closer to the earth causing tsunamis and irregular weather patterns.

Right after the asteroid incident, Miranda does go to school, but soon the school loses power and a huge storm breaks out. Miranda's mom come to pick Miranda up from school where with Johnny and Ms. Nesbitt, a family friend, they go on a crazy shopping trip where they buy  multitudes of food,water and other necessities since Mom has been worried about the ever increasing power outages and disaster. Soon after Miranda and Johnny's (her brother) school ends since they can no longer provide for the students. Through the summer nothing really eventful happens other than Matt, Miranda's older brother, comes back from college. Toward the end of the summer, another catastrophe strikes, the moon's increased gravitational pull causes volcanoes to erupt, and though Miranda and her family are not near any volcanoes, the eruptions are so large that the ash pollutes the sky, clouding out and blocking all sunlight. The weather goes from a hot, indian summer to temperatures that are more like fall weather. Since Miranda and her family have a limited supply of food Miranda, Matt and, Mom start to cut down on their diet since there is no guarantee of food arriving.

When Miranda’s father arrives he brings with him much more food to add to their stockpile as well as a few other vital items. Dad leaves within a few days in order to try to drive south which many inhabitants of the town, including one of Miranda’s friends, do. Everyone works to bring more wood in from the nearby woods since the natural gas is expected to run out and the temperature has steadily been dropping into the negatives. Miranda started to make regular visits to Ms. Nesbitt’s house after the first snows began to fall, and one day when she arrives she finds that Ms. Nesbitt has died in her sleep. Luckily, Ms. Nesbitt, who was already old, knew that she was not going to survive so she had a lot of food left over that Miranda took to her family.

Everything seems to have taken a turn for the better, especially during christmas when it turns out that everyone did get a present and there was plenty of food left in the pantry. Unfortunately, soon after New Year’s Day disaster strikes. A deadly flu rages across the town and Miranda is the only one in her family that has not caught the flu and therefore has to take care of them. When Miranda seeks help from the hospital she learns that Dr. Peter, a close friend of Mom’s has died and that there is nothing that can be done about the flu. Miranda keeps on trying to save her family and one night as she is nursing them back to health, the room begins to fill with smoke and Miranda is forced, with the help of a sick Matt, to drag the rest of her family out of the sunroom into the kitchen, where they stay until Miranda deals with the problem.

Miranda’s family does recover, but one day as she goes to check in the pantry she realizes that there is barely any food left and that if there is any hope for any member of her family to survive, she has to die. Miranda skis out into town knowing that she does not have the strength to come back, only to find that her city hall is passing out food for free among the citizens of the town. Miranda concludes her journal on her 17th birthday saying that she was happy to be alive.