Writing for Change Unit Plan

As a teacher and a writer, I'm not interested in just producing books, and I'm not interested in just reproducing class after class of people who will get out, become successful, and take their obedient places in slots that society has prepared for them. What most of us must be involved in—whether we teach or write, make films, play music, act, whatever we do—has to not only make people feel good and inspired and at one with other people around them, but also has to educate a new generation to do this very modest thing: change the world. —Howard Zinn

Your "Writing for Change" unit plan should focus on an area where you and your students can change the world.

The idea is to address a topic important in their lives, in their community, in the country, or in the world that your students could learn about and where they could, at least in part through writing, endeavor to make a difference.

Go way beyond having students simply write to their political representatives -- instead how might they engage in direct action in their school, community, country or world? Possibilities include engaging in service learning by supporting, collaborating, educating, and/or protesting.

Your unit should incorporate reading (literary or non-literary), research, and other activities to inform your students about the topic. Your unit should last 4-6 weeks. You should pick a specific grade level, 6-12, and a specific school population (let's take 12 grade AP English off the table -- challenge yourself to work with younger students and those struggling in school!).

Your unit should be based in a literacy practices curriculum approach, and include a variety of writing activities relevant to accomplishing the learning and social goals of your unit consistent with what you have learned in English 4790 about best practice for the teaching of writing.

Rather than painstakingly linking specific aspects of your unit to individual items in the Common Core Standards, your unit should clearly show high and meaningful expectations and exceed the standards.

Your unit plan should include the equivalent of at least 15 pages of your own writing, be published on the Teaching Secondary Writing Wiki, and include:

1) A title and one sentence description following your name on the Summer 2013 page. (For format see the Summer 2012 page.)

2) A more detailed description of the topic you have decided to focus on and why that topic is important.

3) A list of learning objectives for your students.

4) A description of the reading, research, events, and activites students will engage in to learn about the topic and take action.

5) A description of how at least three different writing assignments/ activities will be integrated into your unit. Don't simply import to your unit ready-made writing assignments you have learned about elsewhere, but develop writing activities that emerge meaningfully out of the content and activities of your unit.

6) An explanation of how your unit will engage students in reading challenging texts, undertaking outstanding and important writing, accomplishing more, exceeding the standards, and having more learning and impact than they would have thought possible.

7) A short list of a few of the most important Common Core Standards that your unit will address. [Here is a PDF version and here is a Word version (the Word version is 6-12 from NY State; specific NY standards are highlighted).]

8) A general outline of how the unit will proceed with at least brief comments on activities for every day.

9) A set of specific documents that will serve as resources for any teacher that would seek to use this unit. Could include specific lesson plans, assignment descriptions, reading and resource links, handouts, rubrics, tests or exams, etc.

10) Links to relevant on-line resources, images, videos, digital texts, related sites, activities, etc. so that your unit plan attractively and richly illustrates your ability to use and integrate the Internet into instruction.

Published on this wiki your unit plan will be a valuable resource to teachers all over the world. Include your email so that teachers can ask you questions.

Samples can be found elsewhere on the website. You might look at Sara Carrol's Migrancy in America, Will Mathews' Environmental Issues, Jodi Kiplinger's Tracking Our Youth into Prison, and/or Irene Mayfield's Marketing and Consumerism.

Created by: allen.webb@wmich.edu
Revised Date: 5/13