Variant

K5vjbo7m9o0z t

Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.

Curriculet Details
87 Questions
90 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for middle school students contains interactive videos exploring tone and mood and textual evidence and inference, as well as annotations describing key vocabulary, plot and character development. Students will explore the themes of determination and trust. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

The curriculet is being added to your library

Chapter One

Variant, by author Robison Wells, is the story of 17-year-old Benson Fisher, who grew up in the foster care system. He is thrilled to begin boarding school at Maxfield Academy, where he plans on changing his life for the better. However, he soon discovers that life at Maxwell Academy is not at all what he expected. Are you familiar with the concept of a boarding school? What prior knowledge do you have about boarding schools?  
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Benson's life in the foster care system can be described as __________.  
Think of time when you didn't fit in at school, on a team, at extra-curricular activities, etc. How did you feel? Do you think it's wise of Benson to make up a good story instead of telling the truth about his background?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
Which best describes the tone of the highlighted passage?  

Chapter Two

As you read, you will be asked to cite textual evidence to support your analysis of what the text says,both explicitly and when drawing inferences. The following video will explain this standard.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
Explain why Benson believes that Becky and the other students are playing tricks and mind games with him. Cite textual evidence as you explain what the students have done to make Benson believe he is being tricked.  
The highlighted passage is an example of how the story's plot is unfolding in a series of episodes. What have you learned about Maxfield Academy so far?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Which of the following statements describes how Maxfield Academy is different from other schools?  
In what ways is Maxfield Academy like a prison? Have you noticed any good qualities about the school?  

Chapter Three

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Why has Benson decided he will not obey Becky? 
Who is the narrator of the story? As you read, think about how the author develops the narrator's point of view.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.5
Think about the things you have learned about Maxfield Academy so far. In what ways is the school sinister? How does the word "sinister" affect the tone of the story?  
Why do you think that no one has tried to climb the wall to escape? Do you think Benson will be able to get out by climbing the wall?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
It can be inferred that detention is _______.  
Think about the ways in which the highlighted passage contributes to the developing plot and tone of the story.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
How is Benson feeling when he grabs Becky?  
A labor union is an organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members' interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions. Many occupations have unions such as teachers, nurses and firefighters.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
Read the highlighted sentence. Which of the following words best describes the tone of the sentence?  

Chapter Four

As you read, you will be asked to analyze the impact of the author's word choice on meaning and tone. The video clip below will explain how to determine meaning and tone.  (This annotation contains a video)
Have you read or are you familiar with the book, Lord of the Flies, by William Golding? Lord of the Flies is a 1954 dystopian novel about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results. The term "dystopian"refers to a community or society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening. It is the opposite of a utopia. Such societies appear in many novels, particularly in stories set in the future. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a severe decline in society. Variant is also considered a dystopian novel. Think about the ways in which Variant and Lord of Flies approach a similar topic.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
According to Isaiah, explain how the "society" is different from the other "gangs" at Maxfield.  
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. He is one of the most famous leaders and champions for justice in the world. His principals and firm belief in non-violence has been followed by many other important civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela. He is often just referred to by the single name, Gandhi.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
The term "havoc" means widespread destruction. How is that name fitting for Oakland's "Havoc" gang?  
Benson was being pressured by both Oakland and Isaiah to join their respective gangs. However, Benson did not give into peer pressure from either of them. Think of a time when you were peer pressured into doing something. How did you respond to the pressure?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
Read the highlighted passage. Based on the description of "Havoc's row" and "Society's place" which of the following statements is true?  
The term "variant" means a form or version of something that differs in some respect from other forms of the same thing or from a standard. How is "Variants" a good name for Curtis's gang? Why do you think Robison Wells titled the book "Variant" as well?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
Do you think Benson made a wise choice by joining the V's? Why or why not? Support your answer with textual evidence.  

Chapter Five

The highlighted paragraph reveals Benson's regret about going to Maxfield. Think of a time when you made a choice that you later regretted. What advice would you give to Benson? Do you think he should learn to make the best of it, or try to escape and face punishment? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Benson and the V's have a contract for maintenance and janitorial. Why does Benson wish he had the security contract instead?  
After meeting Iceman in Chapter Five, think about how the plot is unfolding. What are your thoughts on Iceman? Who do you think he is and what is his role in the grand scheme of things at Maxfield Academy?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
How do points and punishments make the "school go round" at Maxfield?  
Benson noticed that Jane seems truly happy at Maxfield. Do you think the school has some good qualities? Do you think some kids can thrive in the Maxfield environment and it is the best place for them?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
What can you infer about Benson's feelings toward Jane?  

Chapter Six

Have you noticed a theme or themes emerging in the story? The video will explain the concept of emerging theme.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Based on the highlighted passage, which of the following statements is true?  
Do the gangs at Maxfield school remind you of any groups or cliques that have formed at your school? Are you part of a specific group or clique at school?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Which of the following adjectives best described Benson?  
The highlighted passage reveals the random nature of the scheduling at Maxfield. Why do you think those in charge of Maxfield are so strict with rules, but relaxed with scheduling? What advantages do "those in charge" gain by not having the students stick to a schedule?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
What do Benson and Lily have in common?  
Why do you suppose the Society is so strict with enforcing the rules? What do you think would happen if all of the students joined together to try to escape?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
Describe the character of Becky. Do you think she is fake or genuinely nice? Support your answer with evidence from the text.  
Are you surprised that Benson is already trying to escape? Do you think this a good idea?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
Which of the following best describes the mood of the description of Benson's escape attempt?  
What does the highlighted passage reveal about how the V's help each other? Think about the ways in which the passage contributes to the developing theme and plot.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
How has Benson's first attempt to escape helped him to plot a more effective escape next time?  

Chapter Seven

Are you familiar with the movie Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks? Cast Away is the story of a man's struggles to survive after being stranded on a deserted island for many years. Watch the movie trailer and think of the similarities between the plot of the movie and the Maxfield students being stranded outside.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Which of the following is not one of Benson's ideas for survival while being locked out in the cold?  
Have you ever played paintball? Paintball is a game in which participants simulate military combat using air guns to shoot capsules of paint at each other. Why do you suppose the students of Maxfield are forced to play paintball? The image below shows paintball combat.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
Read the highlighted sentence. What can you infer about Maxfield before the gangs were in place?  
Special Forces are military units highly trained to perform unconventional missions.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Which of the following is not a paintball technique that Benson has learned from Lily?  
A ghillie suit is a type of camouflage clothing designed to resemble heavy foliage. Typically, it is a net or cloth garment covered in loose strips of burlap, cloth or twine, sometimes made to look like leaves and twigs.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Which of the following adjectives best describes Lily?  
The phrase a "staccato of shots" means that the shots were intermittent and separate from the previous ones.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.5
 Analyze how the details in Chapter 7 contribute to the development of the setting of Maxfield Academy. Include descriptions of the setting of the paintball "field."  
Why do you think that Benson lied to the ref and said that Oakland did not keep shooting him after he called "hit?" What advantage was Benson trying to gain?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Which member of the V's had the greatest impact on their paintball victory?  

Chapter Eight

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 movie about two Western bank/train robbers who flee to Bolivia when the law gets too close. The following image is the movie poster.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
How doe Benson feel after learning about the graves?  
Read the highlighted passage and notice how it contributes to the development of the plot. Now Benson realizes how dangerous Maxfield Academy is, and he is more determined than ever to escape.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
What is the meaning of the phrase, "stepping up to the plate?" 
Think about the imagery in the highlighted sentence. Can you imagine how loud the pounding is?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Which word best descibes the Society kids who are laughing and gloating as they take Walnut to detention?  
Can you recall a time when you wanted to help someone but you couldn't? Can you relate to Benson's feelings of uselessness?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Explain why Benson left his room the night that Walnut was taken to detention. What was he trying to accomplish?  
What do you think of Becky? Do you think she knows more than she lets on?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Why were the Society guys who dragged Walnut to detention howling with glee?  
Think about the meaning of the highlighted phrase. Why do you suppose Becky ignores logic and reason over obedience?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.5
How does the highlighted passage contribute to the development of the plot?  
The highlighted passage reveals Benson's determination to find out the reasoning behind Maxfield Academy. Do you think this is a wise endeavor?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
How does Benson feel about going to the dance?  

Chapter Nine

As you read, look for examples of figurative and literal language and analyze the impact of specific word choice on meaning and tone. The following video will explain this concept.  (This annotation contains a video)
An incinerator is an apparatus for burning waste material, especially industrial waste, at high temperatures until it is reduced to ash.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Describe the developing relationship between Jane and Benson. What do they have in common?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Which of the following best describes a difference between Curtis and Benson?  
Why do you think the school is so big? What plans do you think those in charge have for Maxfield?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
What does the term "hacker" mean?  
What do you think of the idea of a school dance at Maxfield? Do you think it's crazy or a good idea?  

Chapter Ten

Field surveying is the science and art of determining relative positions of points above, on, or beneath the surface of the earth, or establishing such points. Do you think this would be an interesting subject to study?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
Explain the ways in which Paintball can help Benson plan his escape.  
Do you think the Society is still trying to recruit Benson? What advantage could he give them?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
In what way will Joel's squad have a noble paintball death?  
The highlighted sentence contains a simile, which is an example of figurative language.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
In the highlighted passage, Isaiah is trying to _____ Benson.  
In the highlighted passage, do you agree with Isaiah's points? Should Benson be grateful for the good things the school provides? Is he crazy for wanting to escape to go back into the real world where he has nothing?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
How does Jane feel about paintball?  
The highlighted passage reveals that Isaiah's words bothered Benson and he is now trying to not be selfish. Do you think Benson is selfish?  
Quiz 1  

Chapter Eleven

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Benson often goes out alone at night. Which word best describes this behavior?  
What is your prediction as to what happened to Lily? Do you think she tried to escape?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
In the highlighted passage, Mason accuses Benson of not caring about Lily. Do you think Benson is selfish and uncaring? Or, do you think his determination to escape can ultimately help everyone at Maxfield? Support your answer with evidence from the text.  
Read the highlighted passage. What do you think Benson wishes he could have said to Lily?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
How is Mason feeling when Lily is missing?  

Chapter Twelve

Do you think Lily really got hit by a car or do you think the school is lying?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
Which of the following best describes the mood of Chapter 12?  

Chapter Thirteen

Do you think the dance should be cancelled due to the death of Lily?  

Chapter Fourteen

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Explain why the banner for Lily is a major source of controversy.  
Have you ever attended a school dance? Think of the ways in which the Maxield Academy dance is similar to and different from a typical school dance.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
What can the reader infer about Becky and Benson based on the highlighted passage?  
After reading the highlighted passage, think about Benson's personality and character traits. What type of job do you think he is well suited for?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Which of the following best describes Jane's attitude toward Maxfield Academy?  
Do you think Benson should stay away from Jane so she won't get hurt when he tries to escape?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.5
Describe the ways in which the attack scene contributes to the development of the plot.  

Chapter Fifteen

The term delusional means someone has false or unrealistic beliefs or opinions. In what ways is Jane acting delusional?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
Which of the following best describes the tone of the highlighted passage?  
What important revelation is indicated in the highlighted passage?  

Chapter Sixteen

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Benson's discovery about Jane is making him feel _______.  
Read the highlighted passage. Think of a time when you felt mislead by someone that you trusted. Can you relate to Benson's feelings of betrayal, confusion and distrust?  

Chapter Seventeen

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Do you think other students at the school are robots like Jane? Why or why not?  
What do you think happened to Dylan and Laura after the attack?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
What is happening to the order and structure of "society" at Maxfield?  

Chapter Eighteen

Pay attention to the highlighted passage. Which of Benson's assumptions about Maxfield's intentions do you believe to be correct?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
What is Benson trying to figure out by determining how long the students have been at Maxfield?  
Do you think Isaiah is an android? Why or why not?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
Which character is portrayed with the most negative language?  

Chapter Nineteen

Cayenne pepper is pungent hot-tasting red powder prepared from ground dried chili peppers. The following image shows you what it looks like.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Compare and contrast each of the three gang leaders, Oakland, Isaiah and Curtis. What similarities and differences do they possess?  
A streambed is the channel occupied or formerly occupied by a stream. What could've happened to the water that used to run through the streambed at Maxfield?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Why is Benson making grenades?  
A culvert pipe is a standard, steel-corrugated pipe,used for protecting pipelines located under roadways to minimize damage from the weight of passing vehicles.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Which theme in the story is revealed by Benson's plans to escape?  

Chapter Twenty

As you continue to read and reach the climax of the story, think of the ways in which the characters have changed over the course of the story. The following video will explain the concept of character development.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Explain why Benson feels he can't confide in anyone at Maxfield to reveal what he discovered about Jane.  
Think of a time when you felt alone and couldn't trust those around you. Do you notice a theme emerging in the story?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Why does Benson feel so alone when he is surrounded by other students?  
Are you surprised that Benson mentioned to Isaiah that Jane is an android? Why do you suppose he did this?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
What important information did Isaiah reveal to Benson?  
What do you think about Rosa? Do you think she is an android?  
Quiz 2 

Chapter Twenty-one

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
What can you infer based on Becky's interactions with Benson?  
Analyze the highlighted sentence. Think of all the ways in which things at Maxfield Academy aren't what they seem.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
Read the highlighted passage. Do you think there is any significance to the pipe from 1893? Why or why not?  
What consequences do you think Benson will face for bidding on the security contract? How can the security contact help his cause?  

Chapter Twenty-two

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Why is Benson in such trouble for bidding on another gang's contract?  
Pay attention to the highlighted passage. Think abut how Benson's point of view is revealed.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
Curtis can be described as ________.  
Think about the highlighted passage. In what ways has Benson been a pain? How has he been stupid and stubborn?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
Describe the ways in which Curtis is like the father of the V's. Support your answer with textual evidence.  
The gang leaders have decided to talk about the situation instead of immediately going to war. What does this reveal about order and societal obligations at the school?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
The mood of the highlighted passage can be described as ______.  

Chapter Twenty-three

A crowbar is an iron bar with a flattened end, used as a lever. The following image will show you what a crowbar looks like. Do you think it will be an effective tool to get the incinerator door open?  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Why is Benson trying to break down the incinerator door?  
After reading the highlighted passage, what do you think of Rosa? Do you think she is an android? Make a prediciton.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
Which of he following best describes the tone of the highlighted passage?  
As you read the highlighted passage, how does it make you feel? Scared? Anxious? Who do you suppose was in there tinkering with Jane?  

Chapter Twenty-four

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
What do you think the students should do now that they have learned about the androids?  
Are you surprised that Dylan was an android like Jane? Why do you suppose an android would attack another android?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
How did the presence of Dylan destroy Benson's theory about the androids?  
When Benson broke into the incinerator to show the other students about Jane, he had hoped that the revelation would convince all of the students to escape together. Did his plan work?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
What is Isaiah's plan for dealing with the android revelation?  
Based on the highlighted passage and other events in Chapter 24, do you notice a theme of the story being revealed?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Summarize the important plot developments in Chapter 24.  

Chapter Twenty-five

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
What does the term, "pop culture" mean?  
The Maxfield students have a variety of theories as to their purpose at Maxfield. What is your theory?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
Based on Rosa's revelation, what can the reader infer?  
Think of a time when someone tried to bribe you. How did you respond?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Which of the following is a theme or central idea in the story?  
Do you think Becky is real? Why is Benson convinced that she is not an android?  

Chapter Twenty-six

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4
What is the mood of Chapter 26 so far?  
Now that you are approaching the climax of the story, watch the trailer for Variant. Think about how the experience of watching the trailer is different from reading a summary of the story.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Describe the members of the Society. Why are they so determined to follow school rules instead of trying to escape?  
Havoc and the V's are now working together against Society. Think of a time when you befriended someone who was once your enemy. What prompted you to change your mind about them?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Why does Isaiah blame Benson for the chaos at Maxfield?  
What consequences do you think Isaiah will face for shooting Curtis?  

Chapter Twenty-seven

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
How can Curtis prove he is not a robot?  
Do you think the deer is really a security camera?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Why are "tingles of panic" forming in Benson's stomach?  
Marmots are stocky, coarse-furred, burrowing rodents with short legs and ears and short bushy tails. Marmots are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
Which of the following characters can be described as the leader of the escape group?  
A hacksaw is a fine-tooth hand saw with a blade held under tension in a frame, used for cutting materials such as metal or plastics.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Describe the ways in which Becky has changed since the beginning of the story.  
Pay attention to the highlighted passage and how it contributes to the plot.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2
In Chapter 27, we learned that Ms. Vaughn________.  

Chapter Twenty-eight

Are you surprised to learn that Mason is a android? Did you notice any characteristics that indicated he was an android?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
How does Benson feel when he learns Becky is human?  

Chapter Twenty-nine

Benson and Becky are the only two Maxfield students who have been able to continue the escape effort. In what ways do they make a good team?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
Describe the ways in which Benson has grown and changed since the beginning of the story.  
What do you think about the ending of the story? Are you anxious to read the sequel titled Feedback, by Robison Wells? Watch the following book trailer for a sneak peak.  (This annotation contains a video)

Acknowledgments

Quiz 3