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Lessons You Can Use!


Feel free to make a copy of any lesson and use in your own classroom. Please email me and let me know how it goes! These lessons are posted on ShareMyLesson as well, where you'll find them aligned to Standards and searchable by grade level, Standard, and topic. You can visit my Partner Page here

Can a Cartoon Teach Social Justice? (Yes! Zootopia Can) 
This is a mini-unit to teach social justice to younger students. I show Zootopia, stopping to discuss the many social justice issues in the movie. This lesson contains a teacher's guide (so you'll know when to stop and why), a student viewing guide, and an "Easter Egg" viewing checklist for students to use as they follow along. 
SEL Matters: SEL in a Squiggle

1) Distribute a "squiggle" to each student. 

2) Distribute the same materials to each student (pencil and crayons, markers, etc). Everyone should have the same tools. 

3) Let kiddos turn their squiggles into whatever they like. Give them a set amount of time. I give 30 minutes, but that is because I'm using the time to talk to students while they color to gather information. ("What's your favorite color?" or "What made you turn this into a cat? Do you have a cat?" 

4) Ask everyone to line their drawings up. Have students discuss how the squiggles all started off the same, but they evolved into something personal and meaningful. Allow time to share. 

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CREDO: This I Believe with Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl

This is a writing assignment that I use instead of a memoir with my 8th graders.
We complete the essay and presentation after we read Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl.
We will have discussed identity in our Rotating Chairs, which you can find here. 

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These lessons are "tried and true." Some I use every year, like The Outsiders, but I change things up often, so check back. 

The Outsiders  by S.E. Hinton

I always tell my students that if this book was set in the current time period, no one would let me teach it. The fact that it is set in the 1960s, allows us to talk about tough topics like family, dysfunction, gangs, identity, teen pregnancy, "suicide by cop," socio-economic bias, bullying, and the like. These are intense topics, and students are more than willing to dive into some very serious conversations about them. 
Every year I do things a bit differently. I love to adapt the material,  so I'll include a bit of everything below. The items in teal, I'm doing this year. Feel free to make copies and use them with your students! 
Pre-reading 1960's Webquest (compliments of my amazing co-teacher, Laura Klein) 
Quiz on 1960's Webquest 
Commercial Analysis Entry Ticket 
1960s commercials to use as Conversation Starters
Rotating Chair Discussion Prompts
Dream Ticket
Dream Ticket

Credo Essay: "This I Believe

Fox with Balloons

The Credo Essay is a great alternative to a memoir. I've found that some students don't have a great "defining" moment that they can put their finger on. The Credo Essay allows students to zero in on a belief, but if they have a story to go with that belief, they are encouraged to share. This is always really enlightening. Usually this is an October activity, but this year has slowed everything down and caused major changes. Nevertheless, here it is.

Credo Assignment Sheet​

Credo Schedule

Credo Grading Checklist

Credo Brainstorming and Brain Dump

Example Credo Slideshow

Exemplar Student Credo Essays:

Exemplar Student Slideshows

Preview Links to the writing EdPuzzles I'll use:

Read what I've written about this unit:

Fox with Balloons

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

This is one of my favorite books to teach, as it allows for important conversations about difference, identity, and bullying. It is an "easy read," and I provide the audio for students as well. My objective with this novel is to make space for conversations about identity and build community before we begin writing our Credo Essay.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Amanda Gorman

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