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Curriculum Unit

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Christian LaForge

on 18 July 2013

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Transcript of Curriculum Unit

Curriculum Unit
based around
"To Kill A Mockingbird,"
& Institutional Injustice

Student Texts

This unit should be paced around the class's reading of TKAM, but should not comprise the entirety of the class's work with TKAM.

More ELA & Literacy Standards could and should be applied to these exercises. Some activities focus more on the thematic links between the texts and in that way support the summative assessment I describe. These activities involve skill sets not all encompassed by the 3 aforementioned standards.

ELA Writing 8.1
Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence
Introduce claim(s), acknowledge and distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.


literature analysis, topic, theme, claim, injustice, institution, metaphor, symbol, jury, trial, verdict, racism, ethnicity, tone.

Distribute copies of "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings." Student volunteer reads to class.

Students fill out "One Word Response Sheet" individually.

Students discuss their responses and opinions in pairs and then groups and then as a whole class (as outlined on the sheet).

Responses can be expressed in English or Spanish (as outlined on the sheet).

See Resource 1

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (M. Angelou)

To Kill A Mockingbird (H. Lee)

Thugnotes: TKAM (youtube)

Wikipedia: The Shooting of Trayvon Martin

CNN interview of G. Zimmerman Juror (youtube)

Catching Fire (S. Collins) [pg. 18-22]

*all texts can be found online, see last slide

Distribute "Think Through Socratic Questioning" Sheet.

As a class, watch Thug Notes: TKAM on youtube. Stop at the beginning of the "Analysis" section.

Students complete only the "Opening Q" section of the Questioning sheet.

Hold a discussion based on the Questions they develop. Focus on topic and theme related questions.

See Resource 2
Distribute copies of TKAM.

*As mentioned earlier, this curriculum unit does not cover all the standards and topics that would go along with TKAM. The summative assessment this unit builds up towards is most concerned with the "trial section" of TKAM. The following steps would begin as the class began Ch.15.

*Check out
For additional ideas of "what to do with TKAM." This was created by who knows who, but it's got tons of ideas.
Students fill out "Focus Q" section of "Think Through Socratic Questioning" sheet. Hold the corresponding discussion.

Distribute "Final Assignment" Prompt Sheet & "Letter/ Journal Writing: Justice for All?" Rubric so that students know what the expectations are.

See Resources 3 & 4.
Distribute and have students complete the "Guided Questions for Discussion" sheet in pairs as the trial section of TKAM progresses.

Students should be encouraged to fill out the sheet as they read and also given in-class time to work in duos.

Change partners for each of the 5 sections of the "Guided Q" sheet -- ID, Lawyers, Evidence, Summation, Verdict.

Duos share out, collect after each section as formative assessment for claim development and as a tool for checking for reading comprehension

See Resource 5.
Distribute "Thinking Sheet" as first official claim development exercise. Encourage students to add on to it as the writing process progresses.

Use the "topic" section of the "Thinking Sheet" to transition students into the first step of the "Silent Auction" activity.

Students discuss and provide feedback for each other's initial claims via the "Silent Auction."

See Resources 6 & 7.
Students are given in-class time to officially begin their final assignments.

After first drafts are completed, peer review using "Believing and Doubting" sheet.

See Resource 8.
As students finish the novel, they'll complete the "Branching Out Q" portion of the "Think Through Socratic Questioning" sheet.

As a model for connecting and analyzing outside material, use the P.L.A.N. activity with "The Shooting of Trayvon Martin" Wikipedia page. They should only be required to read the first section as they analyze the infographics, headings, and subheadings on the page.

See Resource 9.

Students fill out "Critical Media Literacy" sheet individually (only the first 2 broad questions).

As a model for the final project, students will watch

"CNN interview of George Zimmerman Juror" on Youtube. This can be shown earlier on in the unit if needed, but at this point it can be a smooth transition from the outside connection presented by the instructor (The Shooting of Trayvon Martin) back to the final project.

Students will then work in groups of 4 to verbaly respond to the other 3 questions on the "Critical Media Literacy" sheet.

See Resource 10.
As another example of an outside connection, present "Catching Fire" pages 18-22.

Re-use the "Think Through Socratic Question" Sheet to encourage students to discuss the implications of challenging institutional injustice.

*This is an interesting text to bring in at this point for it is a popular novel with today's youth. If enough interest is expressed, you may want to base your next curriculum unit around this novel.

Students turn in final assignment.

Extended Learning option for students looking to do more/ who finish early: a possibly condensed version of the final paper based on the Zimmerman trial or any other appropriate outside connection they brought up earlier.
Rationales and Theories behind the Curriculum Unit. (Teacher Use)



analysis, interpretation, inference, details, rubric, revision, outlining, editing, content, collaboration, presentation, organization, accuracy, journal, opinion.

Probst, R. E. (1994) "Reader-response theory and the English curriculum."

This paper presents theories that support the strategies used to promote critical reading.

We must try, first of all, to respect the natural influence of literary texts upon readers. A teacher's influence should be 'an elaboration of the vital influence inherent in literature itself.'"

This unit is almost entirely based around scaffolded question asking. The teacher's role is to not identify themes, claims, or topics. The teacher's role is to prompt the students to respond to increasingly difficult questions before, during, and after discussions and Socratic seminars.

Lee, O & Fradd, S. (1998) "Science for All, Including Students from Non-English-Language Backgrounds."

This paper presents theories that support the strategies used to promote vocabulary development.

"To mediate the nature of academic content with students’ language and cultural experiences to make such content accessible, meaningful, and relevant.”

If you work with Spanish speaking EL students (as I will be when I teach this lesson) the option to express initial ideas in Spanish is a big help when it comes to building up those Tier 1 and Tier 2 words towards those Tier 3 vocabulary terms (as described by Unrau).

Students practice all the "Brick and Mortar" vocabulary terms, as outlined earlier, using the unified protocols of the curriculum unit -- guided reading and prompting, group discussions, peer review and questioning, peer review. It's not enough for the students to just be told the definitions of the terms, they will be pointed out and defined but the acquisition of the terms comes as a result of multiple modality usage -- They respond to simple brainstorming prompts that involve both Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary. They verbalize their responses. They collaborate and discuss the terms while simultaneously providing individual interpretations. And as they go through this process and turn their understandings into academic essays, they identify situations "outside" the text sets (aka "real world" practice).

Oakes, J & Lipton, M. (1999) "Teaching to change the world."

This paper presents theories that support the strategies used to enhance student comprehension.

“Children are born with the drive – the curiosity – to construct new meanings. Learning or constructing new knowledge is the result of the mind's work, not an outsider's manipulation."

When students don't see reading comprehension as their final assessment it eases nerves and gets them to see reading comprehension for what it really is, a collection of processes. Almost every task in this curriculum unit begins with student's own ideas -- predictions, first impressions, "opening questions." They then realize that what they're being asked to do (in order to satisfy class requirements) is to build upon these ideas. Simple comprehension of plot points becomes a group process negotiated and through continual challenging of each other's opinions (most plainly evidenced with the "Silent Auction").

Paulo Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" presents theories that support this unit's use of group work.

This curriculum unit very much aligns with what Freire called "a discussion based classroom" (as opposed to a classroom based on the "banking model").

The same Socratic seminars and discussions this unit uses to prepare students for their summative assessments are dually purposed to promote engagement. The unit incorporates some heavy ideas that must be discussed amongst peers in a safe space. I believe that the issue of institutional injustice not only provides a thematic connection between all the texts but also gives purpose to a student's experience in the classroom. Students not only identify issues in fictional realms but practice empathy and critical thinking.

I also believe the students can better internalize the lessons of an academic text when they are "striving" (as Freire calls) towards resolving issues that they can come to realize impact their own lives.

"Striving so that these hands -- whether of individuals or entire peoples -- need be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world."
Singer, A. J. (2003) "Literacy: How can teachers encourage student literacies."

This paper presents theories that support the strategies used during the students' writing process.

The students writing process is scaffolded and supported with each activity via the use of modeling, freewrite, think-pair-share, and peer review. All the while the students are "constructing meaning differently because they come from a variety of cultural contexts with differing sets of assumptions,” and so it is important to allow students the freedom to express the way that their cultural constructions shape their literary interpretations. This sense of ownership combined with having to explain their stances via multiple modalities helps students who may feel intimated just by the idea of academic writing.
all texts can be found online







I know why the caged bird sings
Thug notes: TKAM
TKAM (complete)
"The Shooting of Trayvon Martin"
CNN interview
"Catching Fire" (complete)
Full transcript