“Rising Above”

Document Sample
“Rising Above” Powered By Docstoc
					                             Kramer 1

“Rising Above”

 C&I 402 Unit Lesson Plan
     Kindel Kramer
      April 3, 2006
   Brady – Spring 2006
 University of Illinois-UC
                                                                                  Kramer 2

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
    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
          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
                                                                                      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

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

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 130-
136? 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
       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.
                                                                                 Kramer 8

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
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 socio-
       economic 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, socio-
       economic 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
             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

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 socio-
economic 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

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

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

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.
    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

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

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?
         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
         Personal Experience: Evidence from your daily life
         Anecdotes: Stories you‟ve heard that illustrate your point
         Examples from novels, magazines, TV, movies
    4. CONCLUSION: What kind of conclusion did you use?
         Circle back to the beginning
         Possible solution
         Restate and emphasize thesis
         Further questions to think about
         Active verbs
         Lean language
         Metaphoric language
         Sentence variety

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
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           Into a daybreak that‟s wonderously clear
With your bitter, twisted lies,            I rise
You may trod me in the very dirt           Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
But still, like dust, I‟ll rise.           I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
                                            I rise
Does my sassiness upset you?                I rise
Why are you beset with gloom?               I rise.
„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.
                                                                             Kramer 21

Poetry Handout

Rhyme scheme: Correspondence in final sounds of words or lines of a verse.
           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.

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
                                                                               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:______________________________

       2end Character Name:________________________________

       3rd Character Name:_________________________________

       4th Character Name:________________________________

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.

          KNOW                           WANT                          LEARN
                                                                               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)       /50
Poem                              /10
-does it have a rhyme
-does it have stanzas?
-does it have emotion?
-does it have personal
-does it have imagery?

Me-Poster                        /10
-does it reflect on the
experience of completing
this project?
-does it find connections
between class and life?
Job Interview                     /40
-does it contain all the
requirements (according to
the handout)?
-does it show effort,
thoughtfulness, and
-does it show connections
made to class/
understanding of the
importance of education

Grammar pre-test                  /5
-did the student really try to
do well?
Reading Reflection                /15
-does it contain connections
to the readings and personal
-are specific
instances/characters in the
text included?
Writing Essay                     /15
- does it have few/none
grammar errors?
- does it contain an idea that
                                                                                 Kramer 28

is organized throughout the
- does it have an obvious
goal (with a good intro and
Critique on Speeches                                     /5
-do they meet the
requirements of being
respectful to their peers?
-do they offer useful
Final Reflection on Unit                                /10
- does it tell what they
learned about themselves,
their lives, their education,
their direction in the future
from the unit etc?

TOTAL                                                   /150

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


         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
         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.

Shared By: