“Rising Above”

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“Rising Above”

C&I 402 Unit Lesson Plan Kindel Kramer April 3, 2006 Brady – Spring 2006 University of Illinois-UC

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Unit Plan Overview
 Theme: “Rising Above” I see this as the opening theme for the year. I have never had these students before, nor do I know much about them or their educational background. I do know that I come into a fairly structured town. It‟s rural, so many people have deep roots there. This theme is intended to do more than teach them something, it is a way for me to break the ice into who the students are as people. I see this largely as an observation for me – and based on the results of this unit, I will know better where my students are academically and will hopefully have a more detailed picture of what to do next. Who? 7th grade – 27 students: 7 black, 7 white, 5 Latinos, 4 Asian, and 4 East Indian Academic Strengths and weaknesses: Overall, the class is average but lacks motivation. Some are a little ahead of the others in language arts, others are a little behind. Most kids have fairly good parent support, but most have seen real life up close and personal. There is a lot of baggage and hidden hurts. Reading and writing skills tend to be low because most are not interested in doing busy work and don‟t really see the point in English at all. Again, connection from class to the real world is hard for them to see. A few of them are interested in art and one is a very talented musician, but doesn‟t do anything with it really. None of them are excited about being in my classroom. Texts/poems/videos/etc: The books I am using are called “Tears of a Tiger” by Sharon Draper and “House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros. We will also view a video documentary on a classroom in the south that learned a very good and important lesson about race (“A Class Divided”). I use Mayo Angelou‟s poem about rising again. (“Still I Rise”). How long? This will be a 4 week unit meeting every day for 50 minutes. Goal for Unit:  Students will find meaning and purpose in school and in life.  Students will use their background experiences and opportunity in a formal education classroom to see how it can prepare them and relate to “real world” jobs.  Students will take initiative about their education through discussions, debates, interviews, poems, writing, and connections to the texts and themes in those texts.  Students will learn about peer relationships by working in small and large groups.  Students will become aware of the importance of literature and poetry in the world and in their own lives.  Students will make valuable connections between the assignments done in class and their world/cultures/contexts that they are immersed in through written and oral presentations.  Students will meet reading and writing requirements set up for them in the ISBE and NCTE standards for their grade level (specifically NCTE

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Kramer 3 standards 1, 3, 4, 11, and 12; and Illinois State Standards 1.C.3d, 1.C.3a, 1.B.3d, 1.B.3a, 2.B.3c, 3.B.3a, 4.A.3a, and 5.C.3b.). Cumulative assessment: At the end of the unit I will collect a portfolio, which will be a collaboration of the smaller assignments given through out the unit. Each small assignment will be a form of “checkpoint” along the way for me to see that they are engaged, being challenged, and keeping up. Ideas for activities:  I will do a “me-poster” – a poster all about them and what they like to do, what they don‟t like to do, what they want to do in life, special books, poems, memories, friends etc. It can be very artsy, or it can be mostly written, the students have freedom to decide.  Grammar worksheets/pretest: These will be intertwined with the other written responses and the letter. As we talk about rising above, and achieving goals in life, I hope to show them that learning how to write in a concise, purposeful way can benefit them in many ways for many different careers. Since this is the beginning of the year, I will give them a pretest to see where they are in their knowledge of grammar. The next unit can address their needs in this area.  Job interview assignment: Students will decide what career is the most likely to be their job in the future. Then, they are to interview a person from that profession. They will have to make a list of questions they want to ask their mentor on site, and then they will write a response about it for class. The students will give a short presentation on who they interviewed and what they learned. In a way, I will be introducing them to giving public speeches.  Book report: On overall thoughts and impressions and connections with the rest of class assignments and the book. Do they relate to any of the characters in the book? Who and why?  They will write a poem after we read Mayo Angelo‟s poem. This will be an introduction to poetry.  As mentioned before, we‟ll watch a movie and they will be expected to hold a discussion afterwards, as well as write a short response to it.



Layout for Unit Plan:
Week 1:
Day 1: Intro into Unit. Motivational talk/giving it back to the students – make this what you want. We are going to learn how school work relates and helps us in the real world. Do a writing exercise where students have to write for 15 minutes about their life, either past, present or future. If we have time, I‟ll hand out the book “House on Mango Street” to the students to begin reading. Homework: read introduction. Day 2:

Kramer 4 Give intro (frontloading) into the history, literary components of the book (i.e. the narrative/poetic/creative script, “rising above,” issues in life, etc.). Have a paragraph or two on Sandra Cisneros‟ life and read together. Take 5 minutes and ask the kids where they see themselves in 10 years. Create a list on the board of the fictional occupations/locations that students will be or want to be. Tie this in with Cisneros‟ life and background to the book. Begin reading aloud to the students as they sit quietly and listen. Read first chapter called “The House on Mango Street” then break the students up into different groups and have them draw the house (based on the description in the chapter) and then, on their own, draw the house of their dreams. We will share these in class when everyone is finished and briefly recap on why the author is talking as she is about her house, what it may mean for her. Ask for reflections on why students drew what they did and what their drawings or imaginations mean to them. Assignment for the night: read pages 7-38 („Hairs‟ through „Alicia Who Sees Mice‟). Day 3: (detailed lesson plan for today) Review and discuss issues of the text – what questions have come up? Students will be asked to write for 2 minutes at the beginning of class about something they learned or remembered about the chapter that stood out to them, or that they thought of while reading it, or even a question or observation that they have. This discussion will segue into an introduction to the first assignment. Handout assignment sheets of the details and requirements, rubric, and due date for this assignment. Have a sample of an idea for the students to see (do one myself?) Assign pages 39-69 („Darius and the Clouds‟ through „Papa who wakes up tired in the Dark‟) for homework (they might have time to begin reading in class, but then will have to finish for homework). Day 4: Today will be focused on reading. We will discuss issues and aspects of reading; answering questions of why do we read, what can it do for us, where does it put us etc. We will talk about the meaning and purpose of the book itself, why might the author have written it? What can we expect to come next? What questions do the students have so far, what do they like and dislike about the book? Are there any things they can relate to, or find interesting? A creative response will be assigned to be completed in class (5 min. maximum) to follow up reading lecture and instructions. (Provide handout on the worksheet/lecture on reading). Follow up on “Me-Poster projects” and answer any questions. They are due next Wednesday. Assign pages 70-100 („Born Bad‟ through „Rafaela who drinks Coconut and Papaya Juice on Tuesdays‟) for reading and a short answer sheet to complete during reading ---to check if they read). Day 5: We‟ll follow up and do more with reading, but today will be working on writing exercises. Why do we write? How can we use it to do things in life? What are ways that we write, in any given occupation? (Provide handouts for writing workshops). Brainstorm ideas for prospective occupational ideas (this will be used next week for giving the job interview assignment) have them do a quick write about what they want to be a certain occupation. Assignment for the weekend: read the rest of the book, pages 101-134 („Sally‟ through „Mango says Goodbye Sometimes‟).

Kramer 5 * Use model technique that uses information from the reading day to create a short essay on board – don‟t write the whole essay, just give topic sentence demonstration or prompt so that students can see what they are to do and are given an idea of what they are to do.

Week 2:
Day 1: (detailed lesson plan for this day) Conduct a discussion on socio-economic status and religion (as appropriate) based on the book. How does it play a life in Esperanza‟s life? How are they different or similar to her? Where are places in the text to support these answers? Break up into groups and have the students create answers to these issues. Assignment for tomorrow: work on “Me-Poster.” Day 2: Follow up on discussion from yesterday. Ask a few questions about reading, see if any of the students have comments or questions. Do an activity on location/ideal houses. This will lead into a discussion about how what we do now, in school, affects where we get (and where we live and what house we will have) in the future. Let the students use the rest of the period either for reading or for asking me questions about their “Me-Poster.” Homework: finish “Me-Poster” and prepare to share them tomorrow. Day 3: Presentations of “Me-Posters.” Homework: finish book. Day 4: Watch movie “A Class Divided.” Assign response for homework if they don‟t have time to finish in class.

Day 5: Big discussion/wrap up day of the book and the movie from yesterday. This will give us a good basis for discussing race. Students will make a creative response to our race discussion for homework over the weekend. Information will be given out for the book report due next Friday (provide handout).

Week 3:
Day 1: Today I will introduce the Job Interview Assignment (provide handout to class). Then I will hand out the second book we will read for the unit “Tears of a Tiger” by Sharon M Draper. I will also provide them a handout for the criteria and expectations and format of their book report that is due on Friday. They will receive a handout on how to give a formal speech and we will talk about what might be good and bad things to do during a public speech. If we have time, I will begin reading the book aloud to the class, after

Kramer 6 giving a brief introduction on it. I will read to the end of the class period, students will continue reading pages 7-64 for homework. Day 2: (detailed lesson plan for today) Today students will be quizzed on the reading for the night before and we will go over this briefly afterwards. Transition into poetry. I will hand out copies of Maya Angelou‟s poem “Still I Rise.” Volunteers will be asked to read the poem aloud to the class. After reading it three times, I will hand out a sheet on poetry (provide handout). This will mostly be an informational/definition sheet that gives the basic aspects and characteristics of different types of poems. We‟ll talk about what type of poem this one is etc. For homework, the students will create a poem of their own on any subject (appropriate to the classroom) and write a paragraph on 1. why they chose the topic they did 2. why they chose the style/rhyme scheme/stanzas (or not) that they did, and what they learned/liked/disliked about this exercise. Day 3: Today we will do a grammar worksheet. Students will be given a pre-test to determine their knowledge and aptitude in grammar. This will take up the entire class period. Homework: reading TT – pages 65-91. Day 4: (detailed lesson plan for today) Another short reading quiz. Today I will try to explain and help the students see why we 1. learned about and wrote poetry and 2. took the grammar pre-test (and why grammar is important anyway). The class will be divided into groups and will use their prospective interviewee‟s occupation to help them complete the activity. They will be given questions that will make them think about all the skills they might need for that job – and how do you get those skills? Homework: finish book reports and prepare a speech formatted presentation tomorrow. Day 5: Book reports due today on “House on Mango Street.” Students will give presentations on their book reports. This will take up the whole class period. Each student will be given at least 2 other students to “evaluate” based on the speech criteria I gave them at the beginning of the week. This will not only help the other students pay attention, but it will be a sort of peer tutoring as they critique and help each other learn and develop their speeches. Homework for tonight is working on Job Interview Assignment due Wednesday.

Week 4:
Day 1: It‟s been a busy 3 weeks. The students will probably be tired and ready for a slower day. Today I will redistribute critiques and we‟ll talk about the speeches. I will hand out requirements for their unit portfolio. They will have to include all the work we‟ve done in this unit, including responses, poems and projects. This is all due on Friday. Then I will

Kramer 7 read TT for the rest of the class period. Homework: read pages 92-127 and work on Job Interview Assignment. Day 2: (detailed lesson plan for today) Today we will discuss the issue of tragedy, both in real life and in literature. What makes a tragedy? What can it teach us? How does the tragedy in TT affect the characters in the book? Students will work in teams to create a definition for tragedy. They will be expected to use proof from the text to state their case. A mini debate will follow – one side debating over the usefulness of tragedies in our lives while the other side argues against. Homework: finish job assignment and prepare speech/presentation for tomorrow.

Day 3: Job Interview Assignment due today. Students will give short presentations. The rest of the period will be devoted to answering any questions they have about the portfolio due, working on their reflection for it, and reading the rest of TT. Homework: finish book pages 128-162. Day 4: Wrap up TT book. Discuss the ending, how does it end, why does it end like that, how does this fit in with everything we‟ve done in the past 4 weeks? If (Andy) could have made a “Me-Poster” or write a poem, what would it look like? What would it include or not? Why did Andy do what he did? What was his dad trying to teach him on pages 130136? What was Andy trying to tell his dad? Who would he interview for a job? How can we use this story to teach us something about life, school, friends, and the choices we make even right now junior high? Day 5: End of unit! Collect portfolios. Do a wrap up of “Rising Above” and supply a snack. Segue into next unit. Offer a chance for students to tell what they learned about themselves, their lives, their education, their direction in the future from this unit to the class. A sense of bonding, encouragement and celebration will be promoted.

Week 1, Day 3
Objectives: By the end of class today, students will:
    Be able to analyze a chapter of the text and relate it to personal experiences/feelings Be able to respond creatively to ideas in text Work together with other group members on a shared assignment Begin thinking deeper about the contents and meanings of the text and how it might connect to their own lives and goals in the future.

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Materials Needed:
    Book “House on Mango Street” Construction Paper, colored yarn, glue stick, markers. Handout questions for small group work Notes on assigned reading

Take Attendance/Welcome Students to Class (2 minutes) Students will be assigned to desks, so teacher must look at seating chart (that was made on the first day of class) to quickly scan and check to make sure everyone is present. Begin this process even before final bell rings. Greet students are they are coming in. Make sure to smile and make genuine contact with students. Review material: (10 minutes) Teacher will say: “Raise your hand if you like this book so far.” Students will respond. Then teacher will ask reasons why or why not the students liked the book. Teacher will ask pointed questions to check the overall comprehension of the book. “What do you think of Cathy, the queen of cats?” and “How would you like someone to say to you „If you give me five dollars I will be your friend forever?‟ Would you be there friend? What is happening in this chapter called “Our Good Day”? Ask if there are any questions or concerns or comments about the book. Answer each question trying to relate back to the book as much as possible. Make sure to wait at least five whole seconds before moving on if no one has a question or comment. Small Group Work: (25 minutes) Break students up into five different groups by counting off 1-5, there will be two groups of 6. Hand each group a question that is taken from five different chapters in the book. Each group will be required to read their chapter together and then respond to their prompt. Each group will have a different method to respond.  Group 1: This group will read the chapter called “Hairs.” Their response will be to create each of the types of hair as best you can using paper, yarn, markers, and your book‟s description. They will be given six piece of paper for the six different people. Then, they must write one (each student will do their own work) paragraph explaining why they think Esperanza likes her mother‟s hair. They must also include personal connections, telling if they can recognize their mothers hair/smells or not and why or why not that may be important to them.  Group 2: This group will read the chapter “Boys and Girls.” This group will be given two pieces of construction paper, one for the boy list and one for the girl list. They will need to write down everything they can think of that boys may like to do, talk about, be when they grow up etc. Then they will do the same thing for their girl list. After they have brainstormed for these two lists, the students will respond to the interesting image that Esperanza uses at the very end of the chapter. She describes herself as a red balloon tied to an anchor. Students will write (each individually) what

Kramer 9 they think she means by this and why it is important to them to have a close, best friend to be able to talk with and who will “understand their jokes without having to explain them.”  Group 3: This group will read the chapter called “My Name.” Students will each be asked to create a description of their name with one description beginning with each letter of their name. For instance, if their name was May, they could write something like: May means merciful, athletic and young. After they do this, they will write a paragraph about the meaning of their name (if they know they were named after someone etc.) and why or why not a name may be important to a person.  Group 4: This group will read the chapter called “Those who don‟t.” Then, as a group, they will draw (on construction paper given to them) what their neighborhood looks like. Some students may not live in the same part of town, so the group will be given a couple pieces of paper. Then, they will talk about what makes others afraid of their neighborhoods and what types of neighborhoods they are afraid of too. Then, after their short discussion, they will each write a one paragraph response to their discussions/thoughts on neighborhoods.  Group 5: This group will read the chapter called “Alicia who sees mice.” This group will brainstorm ideas about what the meaning of this chapter may be: does Alicia really see mice or does that represent something else? If she does see mice (or thinks she sees mice) what could that mean about her? Why does Alicia pay so much attention to school? What is the benefit to that? After they answer these questions the students will independently write a one paragraph response to the questions. They will also be required to think about their own study habits and whether they are good or not and why. What would be the benefits of studying? What are the drawbacks of not studying? Do you think Alicia is scared of life is she doesn‟t study (and thus the connection with seeing mice?) Written Reflection: Students will each be writing a short reflection according to what group they are in for the small group work. These will be collected at the end of the period before the students leave the classroom and graded on depth of insight and participation.

Wrap-Up: (13 minutes)
The students will be called back to a whole group discussion. Each group will be given 2 minutes each to share their thoughts and ideas about their group work/discussions. Before each group goes, the teacher will take 10 seconds to brief the rest of the class on which chapter they were looking at and what the overall gist of the question was that the group was working with. Group 1 will share their lovely hair-dos; group 2 will share their boys and girls lists as well as ideas about the red balloon description; group 3 will share their name descriptions and why names may or may not be important; group 4 will share their drawings of neighborhoods and why we may be scared of other neighborhoods; and group 5 will close the discussion with ideas about studying and why it may be important

Kramer 10 in life, but also how we may “scare” ourselves into thinking it is too much or unachievable. The teacher will conclude by recapping briefly on all these “presentations” and emphasize the importance of knowing who you are and working hard to be who you want to be.

Formative Assessment:
    Assessment of analysis of chapter will be based on two things: the responses written by the students and their oral responses during the “presentations” in class and how they draw personal experiences/connections to it Assess students‟ ability to think abstractly and creatively about the images portrayed in the text through their written and oral responses. Assess students‟ involvement in the classroom and with their peers by creating different activities for each group and requiring “presentations” from each group at the end of class. Assess depth of thinking and meaning making of text by their level of participation and thinking in their presentations and written responses.

Standard met:
NCTE Standard 1: Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works. Illinois State Standard 1.B.3d: Read age-appropriate material with fluency and accuracy. Illinois State Standard 1.B.3a: Preview reading materials, make predictions, and relate readings to information from other sources.

Week 2, Day 1
Objectives: by the end of class today students will:
    Understand the meaning of socio-economic class Engage in a critical discussion/activity that deals with the issues of socioeconomic class, both for them and for the world

Materials Needed:
Play money from monopoly

Kramer 11       Name tags – one for every student that tells them their race, gender, socioeconomic status and occupation. Paper clips Papers for “fines” Rubber or stick glue Items for the four stations around the classroom Paper with cut up shapes (for making houses for 4th station)

Warm up: (10 minutes) Students will take their seats and be told what we will be talking about for the class period. They will be asked what socio-economic class/status is, how it applies to them (or if they don‟t feel like it applies to them and why). Then, the teacher will read out the list of rules for the main part of the activity. These rules are as follows:  You are to assume the role that your name tag gives you.  If you are a from the elite group, you must move to the front of the classroom. If you are from the business class, you will sit just behind the elite, and if you are a worker you will be behind all the rest, although you will need to pay $5 if you want a desk, otherwise you can sit on the ground.  You can share, lend, or give money if you want. No stealing is allowed.  You can earn more money if you can write an explanation for why Esperanza would want to move up in class, and explain how hard/easy you think it might be for her based on your identity. This can only be done during the four stations and turned into the teacher before the last station change is made. You will be paid $10 for it (which you can use to either buy an early dismissal or pay off any loans you may have).  There will be four stations around the classroom. Each station has a different requirement. You will only have about 6 minutes at each station, so watch your time. If you do not complete your task in the given amount of time you will be fined a minimum of $5. o The first station: Here you must find 5 different references to socio-economic issues in “The House on Mango Street” and write down the page number and one sentence of explanation (i.e. how does this affect Esperanza?) o The second station: Here you will reflect on your status. Do you like who you are? What would you change? Why? If you like who you are, why do you like it? o The third station: For each class, there are different items they will need to buy. If they do not have enough money for this, they will have the option to “buy a loan” which will be an additional writing prompt based on “The House on Mango Street.” (The prompt will be: What does Esperanza think of her current status on Mango Street? How does that relate to where you are?) The students will not have enough time to write all of this before their time limit is

Kramer 12 up, which may mean they will owe more money and if they don‟t have it they will be given a “fine” which is another piece of paper. Those with fines at the end of class will not be able to leave until later than others. o The fourth station: Here they will be given a piece of paper with cut up shapes. They must make a house out of the shapes and glue them to their paper. For each class, they will be given a different number of shapes, so the elite will be able to make a bigger, better house out of their shapes. Then they will each be handed a “name tag” that gives them an identity. Each name tag will have a certain amount of play money attached to it (according to the status). Students will be given a minute to look over their identity and prepare for the next part of the activity. Main Activity: The Real Life of Business: (30 minutes) There will be four stations and students will count off by four to determine which station they start at. There will be written explanation of what to do at each station if the students forget. The teacher will also keep a timer of about 6 minutes for each station. The teacher will let kids know when to switch from station to station. Wrap-Up: (10 minutes) The first 6 minutes: Students will all take their original seats (before the name tags were handed out). They will be asked how they enjoyed the activity. What did they learn about socioeconomic class/status. How did the elite class feel? How did the business class feel? How did the workers feel? The last 4 minutes: For those who can pay $10, they may “buy” and early dismissal of 1 minute for every $10. For those who have debts, will be held until the bell. We will continue discussing how they feel, those who can‟t leave and what that means through the end of class. They will be told by the teacher that socio-economic class is a huge issue for personal mobility and personal fulfillment. They need to be serious and purposeful about making something out of their lives – which starts now, in school.

Formal Assessment:
From each station, students will have to come away with some type of written work. These four things will be put together with paper clips and turned in with their name tags and extra money. These will be graded only for participation grade, although they will have to save this work as a response entry in their cumulative assessment at the end of the unit.

Standards Met:
NCTE/IRA Standard 11: Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

Kramer 13 Illinois State Standard 1.C. 3d: Summarize and make generalization from content and relate them to the purpose of the material. Illinois State Standard 4. A. 3a: Demonstrate ways that listening attentively can improve comprehension.

Week 3, Day 2
Objectives: by the end of class today students will:
  be familiarized with basic aspects of poetry (stanzas, rhyme scheme, imagery, and personal emotions/connections to poems) find connections between two texts that use poetry for different reasons and understand why poetry is important/used

Materials Needed:
   quiz on reading copies of Maya Angelou‟s poem “Still I Rise” handout on basic aspects of poetry

Review Quiz: (10 minutes) Students will be given a short quiz on the reading from the night before. This will be the first thing they are given as they walk into the classroom, so there will be less chaos and confusion. The quiz will cover basic comprehension skills on the chapters, so the students should have no trouble finishing within 5-10 minutes. If students finish early, they are to turn their quiz upside down on their desk and sit quietly until everyone has completed the quiz. Quizzes will be collected at once. The teacher will ask, “Does anyone have any questions about the quiz, a question that they did not understand or know?” This follow up on the quiz should be very brief, 30 seconds or so. Poetry Introduction: (15 minutes) Teacher will hand out poems by Maya Angelou while informing students on where they are going now. Because the quiz was on part of the book that contained poetry, students will be asked to open their books to those pages. Students will be asked to volunteer to read the poems out loud to the class. If no one volunteers, students will be selected randomly. Then, a student will be asked to read Maya Angelou‟s poem “Still I Rise.” This poem should be read out loud three times (teacher needs to explain that it is best to read poems three times before doing anything else). Students will break up into small groups. Then a discussion will follow initiated by the teacher who asks the students what they notice about the poem (referring to poetry sheet: what do you notice about the stanzas? Or the rhyme scheme?), what they like about the poem (what images do they get from it, how? Use lines from the poem to support), what they don‟t like about the poem

Kramer 14 (use lines from the poem to explain and support why), what they think the poem means (what imagery do you see? How can this mean something?), and if they can relate to the poem or learn something from it (personal connections/emotions to poem and why). Most of these answers will be expected to come from the handout on poetry. This is a way to review and reiterate the basic aspects of poetry I want the students to learn from this lesson. Answers should be given as much grace as possible, the point is not to discourage them in this learning/thinking process, but to encourage thinking and attempts at understanding the new information. Writing Poem/Reflection Activity: (15 minutes) Students will be asked to take out a piece of paper. After the large group discussion and reading of poetry, students will be asked to write their own poem. This poem can be on the (appropriate) topic of their choice. Teacher will write a few ideas on the board to help prompt students to think of topic ideas (i.e. school, family, sports, feelings, bf/gf, something that makes them happy/sad/mad/excited) and/or write a short poem on the board to demonstrate how they can do it. Students will be reminded of the basic aspects of poetry on their handout sheet. This can also be used as a guide to help those who are “without ideas.” After about 10 minutes, if there are students who look like they are done, then volunteers will be asked to read their poems. No one will be required to read their work, especially because it could be related to very personal issues.

Wrap-Up: (10 minutes)
Teacher will get the attention of all students by going back to the text (both “Tears of a Tiger” and “Still I Rise” and reading a stanza or two from either or both. Then, teacher will ask the final, summarizing question, “What have we learned today about poetry?” “How does Maya Angelou use it?” “How do the kids in Tears of a Tiger use it?” After waiting for a response/comment to those questions, the teacher will end with “We have learned that poetry is a real way to relate to circumstances and issues in our lives. We can use poetry to let out emotion or express feelings that are hard to express.”

Formal Assessment:
Assessment of understanding of basic aspects of poetry during discussion and then also in the application of it when they turn in their own poem.  Assessment of connections in text will be visible through their own writing of poetry. If poems show a connection to their own life experiences they will met this goal. (The review quiz is a type of assessment that checks the students‟ comprehension from the reading. It is a quick way to keep the students on task with their reading. Really, it will show those who have and have not read.) 

Standard met:
NCTE Standard 4: Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

Kramer 15 Illinois State Standard 5.C.3b: Prepare and orally present original work supported by research.

Week 3, Day 4
Objectives: by the end of class today students will:
   Understand why they were asked to write poetry a few days before Understand why they had to take the grammar pretest Make connections between these two assignments and their job interviews that are in progress – this will connect real-life jobs to the classroom activities.

Materials Needed:
    Small pieces of paper with 7 different types of stickers on them. (One sticker per paper, but there will only be 7 different types for the 7 different groups). Review quizzes on reading Questions for small groups Construction Paper and markers/crayons

Review Quiz: (10 minutes) Students will be handed a quiz on the reading from the night before as they come in the door. Immediately they will be required to take it while the teacher is doing administrative work. This quiz should only take students a few minutes. When they are done, they will need to turn their papers over and wait quietly until everyone else is finished. Quizzes will be collected altogether once everyone is finished. Small Group Activity: (25 minutes) Part 1: (13 minutes) Students will be given a piece of paper with a sticker on it. Depending on what sticker they have, students will make groups of 4, with one group of 3. Teacher will give instructions to pull out their information about the person they interviewed for the job assignment. Then, the teacher will hand out slips of paper with 5 questions on it. These questions will be answered by each member but they must discuss their answers with their group members and share ideas/questions/concerns. Questions: o What is the occupation of your interviewee and what types of skills does this person need to have in order to fulfill their job requirements? o If you were going to be working at this job, how would writing and reading skills enhance your work performance? o We wrote poetry the other day, why did we do that? How can the skill of writing/reading/using poetry be beneficial to this job?

Kramer 16 o Sometimes it is hard to find connections between the job and the things we do in class. Create a scenario in which the person who works at your desired job will run into a situation where they need to use some sort of reading or writing skill that we have been talking about in class. o Write a paragraph about your knowledge of the job position you interviewed. Please reflect on any thoughts or comments you have about this job and how your education can help you perform at your greatest level in that job. Part 2: After discussing and writing these questions out (since the written work will be collected) each group will design a short advertisement either by drawing it on their piece of construction paper (these will be handed to each group) or by creating a short drama advertisement or a combination of the two that will cater to workers of one of their interest. The focus of these advertisements will be for students to make learning acceptable and purposeful. Presentations of Advertisements: (10 minutes) Each group will be asked to come up in front of the whole class (every member of the group needs to participate somehow) to share their advertisement. The job must be clear to the class and the group needs to explain/present their advertisement and then explain why they chose what they did and how it can be effective for their assumed audience.

Wrap-Up: (5 minutes)
Teacher will have all students get back to their desks and thank each of the students for participating in the class activities. A sentence such as “And now we can see that learning in even an English class can be beneficial and useful in all sorts of career positions.” Then the teacher will remind the students of the homework for the night (finish book reports and prepare a speech formatted presentation tomorrow) and ask for any other further questions about those assignments.

Formal Assessment:
   Assessment will be made on their participation in the small group work by observation as the groups work together, both in discussion and on their own (writing responses). Assessment on their cognitive connection will be made through the written responses to the five questions. Assessment of understanding and connection through the presentations of the advertisements. Participation will be expected.

Standards Met:
NCTE Standard 4: Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes. NCTE Standard 12: Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes.

Kramer 17 Illinois State Standard 3.B.3a: Produce documents that convey a clear understanding and interpretation of ideas and information and display focus, organization, elaboration, and coherence.

Week 4, Day 2
Objectives: by the end of class today students will:
   Discuss issues of tragedy in life, in the text, and how it affects both. Engage in a text-based debate where they use the text to prove a point of view Cooperate with other classmates in a debate format, learning to listen to another point of view, even if you do not agree with it.

Materials Needed:
  Candle and matches Newspaper – obituary section

Opening Activity: (7 minutes) Start class with all the lights out and a single lit candle in the middle of the room. Begin reading the obituaries of younger people from the newspaper of the day before. Also, if there is a current story of the death of a teen (i.e. due to drunk driving, violence, or anything else) then read that as well. Let the kids sit in the dark in silence and listen to the names, the farewells, the histories of those who have passed on from this life. End with “We want to make the best of our lives because we don‟t know how long we have here on earth. From the book we have been reading, the students have been dealing with a tragedy of their friend dying in a car accident. Today, we are going to discuss issues of tragedy. I know many, if not all of you, have experienced some type of tragedy so I want everyone to be respectful and considerate of your classmates‟ feelings. We are going to have a debate today, on whether tragedy in life can give us the courage to stand up and face life with determination or if it causes us to shrink back and give up. We are going to be basing our arguments on the text; think of Andy‟s life, what he went through, what he was dealing with, and how he might possibly respond to this situation.” Small Group Discussion: (10 minutes) Students will be broken up into two groups, one group debating for a positive reaction to tragedy and the other debating for negative responses. They will need to base their argument on references in the text. Large Group Debate: (23 minutes) Students will be directed by the teacher to give opening statements (one from each side) and then supporting arguments. Each side should be given equal talking time and the

Kramer 18 teacher must facilitate the discussion, especially because of the sensitive nature of the material.

Wrap-Up: (10 minutes)
After the debate, the teacher will ask all students to take their seats and reflect on the activity they just engaged in. Here are some questions to ask the students: How did you feel about the topic? How did you feel about defending your side of the argument? Did you agree or disagree? What is one thing you learned from the opposing side? What did you learn about tragedy? How does tragedy relate to our lives today?

Formal Assessment:
   Students will be evaluated on their level of participation in the discussions that we have both in small groups and in large group after the debate. Students must include text references in the debate. Points will be marked off their participation grade if they do not meet this requirement. Students must show respect to their peers. Listening to the other side‟s debate and being respectful of different opinions and feelings will be assessed through the overall way the students handle themselves and by what they say during the debate and discussion.

Standards Met:
NCTE Standard 11: Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities. NCTE Standard 3: Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features. Illinois State Standard 1. C. 3a: Use information to form, explain, and support questions and predictions. Illinois State Standard 2.B.3c: Analyze how characters in literature deal with conflict, solve problems, and relate to real-life situations.

Kramer 19 WRITING HANDOUT: How to write? ASSIGNMENT: Write a persuasive essay which clearly states your opinion on a contemporary issue. Support your opinion using personal experiences, anecdotes, statistics, evidence from every day life, novels, magazines, TV, movies, etc. In this essay, also focus on tightening your sentences and using active verbs. CRITERIA: Attach this sheet to your essay. 1. THESIS STATEMENT: Stated or implied. Write it in the space below. 2. INTRODUCTION: What kind of introduction did you use? Question Quotation Anecdote Wake-up call 3. EVIDENCE: Prove your point. Check which of the following types of evidence you used below. On your essay – mark each type of evidence with a different color: Personal Experience: Evidence from your daily life Anecdotes: Stories you‟ve heard that illustrate your point Statistics/Facts Examples from novels, magazines, TV, movies Other_____________________________ 4. CONCLUSION: What kind of conclusion did you use? Summary Circle back to the beginning Possible solution Restate and emphasize thesis Further questions to think about 5. TIGHT WRITING: Active verbs Lean language Metaphoric language Sentence variety 6. GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION, SPELLING CHECKED AND CORRECTED Meeting NCTE/IRA: Standard: 11: Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities. Standard 12: Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes. Meeting Illinois State Standard 3.B.3a: Produce documents that convey a clear understanding and interpretation of ideas and information and display focus, organization, elaboration and coherence. *Activity taken from Reading, Writing and Rising Up (2000) Christensen, 79-80.

Kramer 20 Still I Rise By Maya Angelo You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I‟ll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? „Cause I walk like I‟ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I‟ll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops. Weakened by my soulful cries. Does my haughtiness offend you? Don‟t you take it awful hard „Cause I laugh like I‟ve got gold mines Diggin‟ in my own back yard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I‟ll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I‟ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history‟s shame I rise Up from a past that‟s rooted in pain I rise I‟m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise. Into a daybreak that‟s wonderously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.

Kramer 21

Poetry Handout
Rhyme scheme: Correspondence in final sounds of words or lines of a verse. Example: Roses are red Violets are blue Honey is sweet And so are you. Verse: A line in poetry. Stanzas: divisions in a poem consisting of 2 or more lines (see first example) Emotion: Strong feeling; a particular feeling, as love or hate. Imagery: Mental pictures/vivid figures of speech conveying (having) mental pictures. Personal Connections: How does the elements/ideas/emotions in this poem relate to events/feelings in your own life?

Kramer 22

READING HANDOUT: How to read, when it seems impossible.

TEA PARTY ROLES: House on Mango Street In your groups, have each member chose a character and read the description first to yourself and answer question number 1. Then read aloud to the rest of your group. Take notes on each character under question number 3. Esperanza: I‟m a girl who has a lot of dreams. I see things differently than how other people see them. I want to be something when I grow up and live in a really nice house. I have a lot of weird friends, but I like them all in different ways. (read “My Name”) Darius: I don‟t like school. Some people say I‟m dumb, but I don‟t care what they say. I like to chase girls with firecrackers or a stick. I will touch a rat just to hear them scream. (read “Darius and the Clouds”) Minerva: I‟m a little older than Esperanza. I have two kids and my husband already left me. I cry a lot because of that. The only thing I can find to do is write poems on little pieces of paper. That‟s all I have to write on and that‟s all I have to do to make me feel better. Make me feel worth something. (read “Minerva writes poems”) Sally: I have eyes like Egypt. I am very beautiful and all the girls know it and all the boys want me. I just have to find the right one to marry. That is what you gotta do as a girl, find some boy to love you and then marry him quick so he‟ll take care of you. If I got my stockings muddy, I‟d scream. (read “Linoleum Roses”) Alicia: My mother is dead. I go to school because I don‟t want to be stuck working in a factory the rest of my life. I‟m afraid of a lot of things, especially mice. I see them all the time when I am up late at night studying for a test. I have to study a lot if I want to be somebody. (read “Alicia who sees mice”)

After reading your role, answer the following questions in complete sentences. 1. Write the key points about your character in the space below.

2. Write some questions or thoughts you have about your character after reading the description.

Kramer 23

3. Write about each of the other four characters you meet in your group. Write notes as the person introduces him or herself to you. 1st Character Name:______________________________ Description:

2end Character Name:________________________________ Description:

3rd Character Name:_________________________________ Description:

4th Character Name:________________________________ Description:

4. in the space below, draw a diagram, graph, tree, picture, or some kind of visual representation that shows the connections between the characters. Feel free to add other words into your creation.

Kramer 24

5. write an explanation of your “visualization.”

6. Think of House on Mango Street. Esperanza goes through some of her own struggles in life. Pick one character from the book and write down four questions you have about that character.

Kramer 25

7. Write three predictions that you have about the book House on Mango Street, what do you think she‟ll talk about next, or what do you expect to see or not see happen? Will Esperanza pull herself out of her situation? Do you think she will ever “rise above” her circumstances? Why or why not?

8. Complete the K-W-L chart below about reading. Fill out the first two columns. Fill out what you know about reading, what you know about the book (so far) what you know about the context that the book is talking about.




Kramer 26

*Meeting NCTE/IRA Standard: 1: Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works. Standard 2: Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions of human experience. Standard 3: Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features. *Meeting Illinois State Standard 1.B. 3a: Preview reading materials, make predictions and relate reading to information from other sources. Standard 1. B. 3c: Continuously check and clarify for understanding. Standard 1.C.3a: Use information to form, explain and support questions and predictions. Standard 2.B.3a: Analyze how characters in literature deal with conflict, solve problems, and relate to real-life situations. *Activity idea taken from Reading, Writing, and Rising Up (2000) Christensen, 117-120.

Kramer 27

Cumulative Assessment Rubric:
All written responses (10) Poem -does it have a rhyme scheme? -does it have stanzas? -does it have emotion? -does it have personal connection? -does it have imagery? Me-Poster Response/Summary -does it reflect on the experience of completing this project? -does it find connections between class and life? Job Interview -does it contain all the requirements (according to the handout)? -does it show effort, thoughtfulness, and creativity? -does it show connections made to class/ understanding of the importance of education now? Grammar pre-test -did the student really try to do well? Reading Reflection -does it contain connections to the readings and personal experiences? -are specific instances/characters in the text included? Writing Essay - does it have few/none grammar errors? - does it contain an idea that /50 /10






Kramer 28 is organized throughout the essay? - does it have an obvious goal (with a good intro and conclusion)? Critique on Speeches -do they meet the requirements of being respectful to their peers? -do they offer useful critiques? Final Reflection on Unit - does it tell what they learned about themselves, their lives, their education, their direction in the future from the unit etc? TOTAL




All work must be gathered into a portfolio binder. Students should have a cover letter/title page with a name (going along with theme of “Rising Above” ) for their portfolio and their name, class name, time and date. The overall portfolio will be graded on the completion of all assignments required – some of this work will already be checked (i.e. responses etc) but their presence and completion in portfolio will give them full credit. Reflections will be graded on completeness, thoughtfulness, and demonstration of acquired knowledge. Grammar and spelling will be taken into consideration in the grading process. All written work must be typed, 12pt. font, and double spaced. The object of this assessment is to meet: - NCTE Standard 5: Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes. - Illinois State Standard 3.B.3a: Produce documents that convey a clear understanding and interpretation of ideas and information and display focus, organization, elaboration, and coherence. - Illinois State Standard 3. C. 3b: Compose narrative, informative, and persuasive writings for a specified audience. - Illinois State Standard 5. A. 3b: Design a project related to contemporary issues using multiple sources. Students will be challenged to develop their cognitive reading and writing skills. All comments made on portfolio will be positive and constructive. Keeping with the theme of “Rising Above” students will be encouraged to take what they learned in this unit and use it as a “stepping stone” on their road to personal success and confidence.

Kramer 29 Rationale I have a few practical and a few pedagogical reasons why I have chosen this theme and unit plan. First and foremost, I have considered my students. They are a very diverse group of individuals who live in a rural town. These kids do not have much academic motivation because life to them consists of getting out of high school and working at the local factory (which supports the majority of the townspeople). Their parents often will encourage them to “do well in school” but many don‟t see that value lived out, so the words seem empty. Motivation is a hard obstacle to overcome in the classroom. How do we make students excited about learning literature and writing an essay? I have designed this unit plan called “Rising Above” to motivate, inspire, and demonstrate (in a tangible way) to the students that there is great value and purpose in reading and writing. I have designed a series of activities that incorporate in and out of school participation. For my students, I need to not only bring the world into the classroom, but I need to bring the classroom into the world. I will do this by assigning tasks such as a job interview where the students will be required to pick an occupation and follow that person around for the day (preferably an occupation other than the one their parents have). They will be given a set of questions to use (although they are not limited to them) which will help guide their interview. The students will be required to write a 2-3 page summary response to this assignment. Another reason why I designed this unit the way I did is because I want students to find personal connections with themselves and their community. The students will complete a “Me-Poster” project that explores who they are as people. The “Me-Poster” will provide a way for the students to look at themselves, recognize strengths and weaknesses, but also provide them a safe opportunity to share about themselves with their peers (and I hope this will encourage a better classroom environment as well as closer relationships between students when they see similarities between themselves and their peers). Relationships between students are important to cultivate for a safe, effective learning environment. After considering that my students are very diverse (and thus they might have prejudices or other preconceived ideas about those who are outside their group of friends) I designed this specific assignment to address this issue. I also put it as the very first assignment in my unit to immediately create and encourage a sense of community among my students. The first text that my students will be reading is called “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros. This text was chosen because it is easier to read (short, concise chapters) and it addresses issues of “rising above.” My students are not very motivated to read and some struggle with it more than others. I want to use this first text to kind of “get their thinking and reading brains” into gear. It will be a good, easy, yet thought-provoking text to start off the unit and the semester. I have also chosen to use Maya Angelo‟s poem “Still I Rise” because it is something my students may be able to relate to (or get good advice from). It also is a good way to introduce poetry to the students while maintaining the theme of “rising above” and succeeding in life. The last text I use is called “Tears of a Tiger.” This will be an interesting book to read with my students since it can be very personal and very pertinent to their situation in school and life with friends. I chose this book because it introduces and uses student essays, letters, and poetry to tell the story. It shows the connections that students make between life in

Kramer 30 and outside of school. It also brings in the topics of race, peer pressure, parent pressure, friendship, and inner pain/struggle. Overall, I think it is an excellent book for teaching middle school students. I organized this unit by starting off with “simpler” things (and also more community building assignments) to help students get settled down into the class, into school, and into each other. I incorporated some more “academic” activities (such as the grammar worksheets and writing and reading lessons) to balance out the more “practical” applications of texts to real life. I build upon what we‟ve done throughout the entire unit, hoping to keep unity, consistency, purpose, and meaning for my students. I want to show them, throughout the assignments, activities, and unit that there are good reasons for doing what we do in school that will be beneficial and useful in their jobs/careers in the future. This unit plan speaks of my educational philosophy. I am dedicated to teaching the “basics” of literacy while encouraging culture and diversity. I myself see valid connections and uses for “academic work” in the “real world” and am passionate about helping others see that too. School is a place where the world is brought to the classroom, but I fully intend to see my students take initiative (as I believe that the only real way to teach is to demonstrate, instruct, and then step back and observe) of their own goals in life and do something about their future. There will be those who fail, and though I do not want my students to fail, I also understand that not everyone can excel to what we think is “normal.” Yet, those students are still successes in my mind if they take their gifts, talents, and passions, and make a difference in the world. What is teaching? Why do I create such a unit plan? Simply because I see the value and importance of training the next generation to step up and be all they were created to be, one life at a time. Reflecting on My Unit This unit has been a real enjoyment for me to do. I have really learned a lot from completing this assignment. I have learned that there is a lot of “behind the scenes work” that goes into making a lesson plan because it is a projected idea that is carefully knit together over many weeks. I have learned how to bring in texts, poems, writing and reading assignments, and group and individual activities. Overall, I like my entire project. I am really excited about the books that I am going to be using because they fit nicely into the theme of “rising above.” I was really excited to find a new text (“Tears of a Tiger”). I was also surprised and fascinated to find how well the text fit into the other aspects of English that I was aiming at for this unit (i.e. poems, personal writing, connections between life and school). I have learned that ideas can change as you write them out. I have done this many times with this project. There were times when I would think I would do it one way, but by the time I got to writing it out, I realized I needed to change it or modify it. Other times I would create a totally different idea. I worked on this lesson plan in a weird order. For instance, the day that I talk about socio-economic status I had no idea what to do for it so I let that day “sit” for a while. I worked and completed the rest of the lesson plan before going back and creating a lesson for that day. I think after completing the rest of the lesson plan I had more ideas and a better idea of where I was going with this unit. Even after I did this, I went back to

Kramer 31 a few other days and changed some things slightly. I re-evaluated my goals and assessment to make sure they were complementing each other. My ideas for this unit kept coming. At first it was hard to harness all of them into a four week unit, but after narrowing in on what I was going to do, what texts I was going to use etc. it was easier to work with the four weeks. I think this unit has strength in meeting the reading and writing requirements of literature. I am not sure how strong it will be for critical analysis and evaluation of the texts, although I hope that it will be fairly strong in this area too. One concern I have is that my students will not be able to totally keep up with the unit, since I have put a lot of expectation and effort into making this something they need to really “step up” to. Yet, my thinking on this is that I will be encouraging them to “rise up” and take initiative of their education and life just as the unit‟s goal was for them. I believe that if you lower the expectations of your students before you even start a unit (i.e. in the planning process) then your students may never reach for a higher level of performance and may never be challenged as much as they either should or need to be. The assignments that I really like are the “Me-Posters,” the job interview, and the movie viewing and discussion. These are “different” types of assignments that will engage my students in ways that will not seem as “academic” although they will still be doing academic things within the assignments. I do not know how the discussion of why we are writing poetry, taking grammar pre-tests, and writing book reports will go, and perhaps these things are some of the more “weak” assignments I have included in this unit. It is hard to incorporate “fun” in with “work” as defined by a seventh grade student. Above all, I am proud of this work. I know it is a beginning for me. My unit plans will grow from here. I also know that when/if I ever get to implement this unit, or a variation of it, I will make even more changes and modifications. That‟s ok with me because I know and am learning more and more as I complete assignments like this that teaching never ends. I learn and then teach what I know, only to learn some more, change my approach, and teach again.

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