Guide to Curriculum Units
by Fellows of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

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In March 2002, sixty-two teachers from twenty-nine New Haven Public Schools became Fellows of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute to prepare new curricular materials for school courses. Established in 1978, the Institute is a partnership of Yale University and the New Haven Public Schools, designed to strengthen teaching and improve learning of the humanities and the sciences in our community’s schools. Through the Institute, Yale faculty members and school teachers join in a collegial relationship. The Institute is also an interschool and interdisciplinary forum for teachers to work together on new curricula. The Institute has repeatedly received national recognition as a pioneering and successful model of university-school collaboration that integrates curriculum development with intellectual renewal for teachers. In 1998 it launched a national initiative to demonstrate that the approach the Institute had taken for twenty years in New Haven can be tailored to establish similar university-school partnerships under different circumstances in other cities.

Teachers had primary responsibility for identifying the subjects the Institute would address. Between October and December 2001, Institute Representatives canvassed teachers in each New Haven elementary, middle, and high school to determine the subjects they would like the Institute to treat. The Institute then circulated descriptions of seminars that encompassed teachers’ interests. In applying to the Institute, teachers described unit topics on which they proposed to work and the relationship of these topics to Institute seminars and to courses they would teach in the coming school year.

Six seminars were organized, corresponding to the principal themes of the Fellows’ proposals. The seminar entitled “Survival Stories” was led by Amy Hungerford, Assistant Professor of English and of American Studies. Between March and August, Fellows participated in seminar meetings, researched their topics, and attended a series of lectures by Yale faculty members.

The curriculum units Fellows wrote are their own; they are presented in six volumes, one for each seminar. A list of the 155 volumes of Institute units published between 1978 and 2002 appears on the following pages. Guides to each year’s units, a topical Index of all 1392 units written between 1978 and 2002, and reference lists showing the relationship of the units to school curricula and academic standards are available from the Institute. An electronic version of these curricular resources is available on the Institute’s Web site (

The units that follow contain four elements: objectives, teaching strategies, sample lessons and classroom activities, and lists of resources for teachers and students. They are intended primarily for the use of Institute Fellows and their colleagues who teach in New Haven.

The DeWitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund and the National Endowment for the Humanities have provided the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute major grants in the form of both endowment and program support. In addition, a number of individuals and foundations, notably the William Randolph Hearst Foundations, the Zimmerman Foundation, and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, have made gifts and grants toward the Endowment Fund for the Teachers Institute. The 2002 Institute was supported also by grants from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The New Haven Public Schools, Yale’s partner in the Institute, has supported the program annually since its inception. The materials presented here do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies.

James R. Vivian

New Haven

August 2002

I. Survival Stories

Introduction by Amy Hungerford, Assistant Professor of English and American Studies

The curriculum units in this volume grew out of a seminar that focused on American survival narratives, both fictional and non-fictional. The narratives we read together, representing stories of survival from the seventeenth century through the twentieth century, invited us to consider how telling stories becomes part of what it means to survive great hardship. The readings were divided into three sections. In the first section we compared narratives from English settlers held captive by Native American tribes during King Philip’s War with an autobiographical account by Olaudah Equiano, an African held as a slave in England and the West Indies. The second section examined American slavery and its literary legacy, both in slave narratives and in the writing of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Richard Wright and Ishmael Reed. The third section gathered together twentieth-century fiction that responds to war and survival--be it World War I, the Nazi concentration camps in World War II, or the Vietnam war. This final section included work by Ernest Hemingway, Art Spiegelman, Cynthia Ozick, and the poet Simon Ortiz.

Taken together, these readings presented a variety of ways that writers used fiction, poetry and non-fiction genres like autobiography or personal narrative to shape and give meaning to the experience of loss, hardship or discrimination. In many of the early narratives and the nineteenth-century novels, writers used Christian scriptural tradition both to make sense of their experience and to shape the way their story is told. Olaudah Equiano, for example, combines a secular tale of self-improvement--which shares much in common with Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography --with the form of spiritual autobiography or confession. Unlike Franklin, Equiano does become a Christian and so his story of surviving by his wits also becomes a classic spiritual salvation narrative. That tradition--of using the Christian story to shape one’s own personal story--is evident in the narratives of Puritan settlers in New England as well as in Stowe’s famous Uncle Tom’s Cabin . And resistance to the Christian story becomes, for later writers like Wright and Reed, yet another way to speak of survival. In these cases, rejecting the Christian precepts of meekness and faithful suffering allows the writer to imagine a powerful and artistically assertive black male voice.

The twentieth-century narratives might be said to substitute the narrative of art itself for the Christian narrative. Hemingway’s stories of World War I and its aftermath in In Our Time sometimes seem more like stories of dissolution than stories of survival, but the fact that the war experience can be made into literary art becomes a way of redeeming that experience. Equally, Cynthia Ozick’s The Shawl details the ways a woman does not survive the murder of her baby in a Nazi concentration camp, yet finds a kind of remnant of life in the act of writing--in the woman’s act of writing letters to her dead daughter. While Art Spiegelman’s graphic novels Maus I and Maus II offer a more traditional survival story with a generally happy ending, following (as Spiegelman himself has said) nineteenth-century narrative conventions, the self-consciousness and irony of his cartoon medium allows him to interrogate the problems raised by those narrative conventions. For Simon Ortiz, art--or poetry, to be more precise--holds out the possibility of healing the layered wounds of war suffered by Native American Vietnam war veterans. It does so both by giving history back to the Native American people in a kind of cathartic truth-telling, and by using poetry’s flexible language to stitch together wounds Ortiz presents as belonging to all Americans.

Against the backdrop of these readings, the members of this seminar explored many other kinds of survival in their own research and writing. The first four units in this volume focus on particular historical moments of difficulty and the life stories of individuals who survived those times. Dina Secchiaroli builds her unit around readings about the Holocaust that blur the line between fiction and non-fiction. In choosing such readings Secchiaroli allows students to exercise their critical faculties and to explore how both truth-telling and imagination can become part of the effort to survive. Virginia Seely also uses different genres to bring students to a personal and humane understanding of history and survival--in this case, the history of slavery and the survival of young people caught within that “peculiar institution.” Marlene Kennedy’s unit, engaging the history of the Great Depression and Pearl Harbor, relies on fiction (novels and films) to teach children how imagination can not only help young people to survive difficult times but also how it can help us come into closer contact with history. In a unit written for very young students, Jean Sutherland uses a variety of materials, including film, diaries, and biography, to show how young people have survived their culture’s discrimination. Her focus on Anne Frank, Ryan White, and Ruby Bridges takes fourth-graders to different places and different moments in history to observe how three exceptional children drew on the resources of family, friends and education in order to make a meaningful life in the face of prejudice. Because students can easily identify with the young narrators and protagonists of the literature these units include, the curricula promise not only to teach reading, writing, and history, but also to encourage students to use their imagination, living into the historical predicaments in which each story is set.

The next three units in the volume take up the idea of cultural survival. Waltrina Kirkland-Mullins, in her “Middle Passage,” frames the story of the slave trade with a rich, hands-on exploration of Ghanaian culture prior to slavery and its survival in the lives of slaves and their free descendants in the Americas. Yolanda Trapp focuses on how a person’s native language can survive as part of that person’s life and self-worth when she or he moves to a new place with a new language. Using beautiful bilingual books--most in Spanish and English--Trapp shows how appreciation and celebration of linguistic diversity can coexist with students’ need to learn the language of their new home. Sandra Friday, though she also discusses cultural survival, takes a slightly different tack in her unit. Rather than concentrating on how certain cultural practices can survive dislocation and challenge, her unit shows how new cultural practices--especially in visual art, music and poetry--blossom when individuals and groups are challenged with prejudice, poverty or other kinds of adversity. Friday’s materials include poetry by Robert Hayden, Nikki Giovanni and others, Jacob Lawrence’s paintings, and rap by the African American philosopher, Cornell West. These materials show how art in its various forms communicates both public and personal history.

The last three units in the volume look at survival with an eye towards the contemporary application of survival lessons taken from literature, film and music. Kevin Inge uses a variety of readings--historical, autobiographical, and fictional--to explore different instances of survival, asking his students to think and write about what helped characters in the stories to cope with the troubles in their lives. Amber Stoltz aims also to give students survival resources they can use in their own lives, appealing to their sense of identity as teenagers by assigning readings, films, songs and creative projects that take up problems most teenagers encounter. The unit allows students to read and write about family difficulties, the issues of peer pressure and sex, the challenges of school, and the question of race. In the last unit of the volume, Geraldine Martin takes survival lessons to the very youngest students using the stories of Faith Ringgold. Through creative puppetry, art, and writing activities, Martin asks first graders to think about how family, friends, and the escape provided by imagination can help a person to weather difficult times and to accomplish seemingly impossible things.

While these last three units are devoted to analyzing and applying the lessons one can learn from stories of survival, this is not to say that the other units included in the volume do not also offer students ways of translating the stories and history they read about into their own thoughts and actions. Almost every unit in this volume includes at least one activity in which students are invited to make that leap from academic work to personal expression. This is perhaps why survival stories have remained a staple of American writing since those narratives of captivity written by settlers and slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The survival story provides a ready form for transforming private pain into culturally recognizable meaning.

Amy Hungerford

Synopses of the Curriculum Units


The Holocaust: Survival Stories

by Dina Secchiaroli

Guide Entry to 02.01.01:

This unit explores survival stories, both fiction and non-fiction, from the Holocaust. We will look at the psychology behind survival stories. We will read and analyze two narratives of survival, both works that challenge the divide between fiction and non-fiction. Fragments: Memories of a Wartime Childhood , by Binjamin Wilkomirski, is a memoir about his time in various concentration camps as a young boy. Wilkomirski claimed to be a Holocaust survivor writing his memoir, but it appears he made up his story. Maus I and Maus II , by Art Spiegelman, tell the story of his father's survival during the Holocaust and of his own survival as the son of a Holocaust survivor. This is a "graphic novel"--a novel in comic book form. We will also read …I never saw another butterfly… , a compilation of children's drawings and poems from Theresienstadt Concentration Camp during the years 1942-1944, We Are Witnesses: Five Diaries of Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust by Jacob Boas, and Children in the Holocaust and World War II: their secret diaries by Laurel Holliday (an anthology of children's diaries written during World War II). We will continually look at how these survival stories are told and compare the different texts.

(Developed for English 2 World Literature, grade 10; Recommended for English Literature, History, and Photography, grades 7-12)


Looking at Human Struggle Through The Language Arts Curriculum: The Faces of Slavery

by Virginia Seely

Guide Entry to 02.01.02:

This unit introduces students to the concept of slavery in America and puts a human face on this tragic period in American history. Students will read three books, one fiction and two nonfiction. Two of the readings tell the story of individuals who were kidnapped from their African homeland and forced into slavery in America. The other reading teaches students about the Amistad incident, which captured the American public's attention in 1839 -1840. Through this incident the American justice system took up the question of whether slaves had a legal right to be free. These three stories allow students to explore how individuals coped and survived within the confines of enslavement.

Other lessons in this unit provide students with an initial understanding of how and why the slave trade arose in Africa and America. They also provide students the opportunity to explore historical documents pertaining to the slave trade.

The activities in this unit were designed for the sixth grade, however, they may be modified for the upper elementary grades and for high school. Lesson plans are included, which align themselves with the New Haven Public Schools Language Arts and Social Studies curriculum. This unit will take between six to eight weeks to teach.

(Developed for Reading, grade 6; recommended for Language Arts, Reading, and Social Studies, Upper Elementary through High School grades)


Jewels of Endurance

by Marlene H. Kennedy

Guide Entry to 02.01.03:

Students will read two historical novels about children living in America during the Great Depression of the 1930s and the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. These novels, survival stories featured in a language arts unit aimed at sixth graders, have been selected to offer students an opportunity to respond to literature and to engage in a process in writing that results in publishable text. Both novels are integrated with the social studies curriculum, which focuses on American history from the period after the Civil War to the present day. "Jewels of Endurance" will teach children the importance of persevering, despite hardships. Children will learn the true jewels of endurance are the stories of the human condition that go beyond the limits of time. Such stories transcend all barriers to give hope to those who follow. In addition to the two featured stories, children will be exposed to a variety of picture books, companion novels, and non-fiction texts appropriate to the time periods. They will also compare their novels to two films about each of the decades, listen to old time radio shows, produce their own radio dramas, and they will have an opportunity to engage in several artistic endeavors.

(Developed for Language Arts, grade 6; recommended for Language Arts and Social Studies, grade 6)


Surviving the Struggle: Ruby Bridges, Ryan White, and Anne Frank

by Jean Sutherland

Guide Entry to 02.01.04:

Through a variety of activities, "Surviving the Struggle" will allow students to examine the lives of three young people who stood against tremendous odds during much of their lifetime. The obstacles which they faced could easily have defeated the spirit of those much older and seemingly better equipped to cope. In their own way, each of these young people managed to survive and triumph. These individuals are: Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White. The thread of each life will come from books we will read together: The Diary of Anne Frank , The Story of Ruby Bridges , and Ryan White: My Own Story . A film on each survivor's life is also included.

Through reading, both individually and as a class, students will study the lives these young people lived. They will research background information on the Holocaust, the Civil Rights movement, especially school integration in the South, and facts concerning the disease AIDS. Students will see Anne, Ruby, and Ryan as unique individuals, but also as people who shared a great deal in common.

Though designed for a fourth grade class, this unit could easily be taught to third through eighth grade students. It emphasizes the standards of literacy in the areas of reading, language arts, social studies, science, art, and social development.

(Recommended for Reading, Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Social Development, grades 3-8)


Middle Passage: A Journey of Endurance

by Waltrina Kirkland-Mullins

Guide Entry to 02.01.05:

In the 21st century, as has held true in the past, misconceptions about Africa and her people are embraced on a widespread basis: many students at all grade levels continue to associate Africa past and present with Tarzan, dark-skinned people, primitive villages, jungle, and wild animals. Little attention is focused on Africa today, a land fused with modernization and traces of the past. Little correlation is made with the existence of great African empires rich in culture and social structure prior to and including the onset of European exploration and slavery. Middle Passage: A Journey of Endurance has been written to examine these aspects of African heritage with emphasis on Ghanaian culture.

Divided into three sections, this interdisciplinary unit includes Ghana, Pre-Slavery (taking a glimpse at the ancient Ghanaian empire); The Treacherous Slave Trade (where students "experience" the dehumanizing journey from Ghanaian shores to the Americas; and Traditions Embraced (generally highlighting African traditions embraced today). Targeted at students in Grades 1 and 2, Middle Passage can be modified for use with upper grade students.

Middle Passage: A Journey of Endurance is an adventure in learning, one that sparks engaging dialogue, an understanding of people across cultures, a celebration of diversity, and a respect and appreciation of the strength of people of African descent. Experience the journey!

(Developed for Social Studies, Language Arts, and Social Development, grades 2-4; recommended for Language Arts, Social Studies, and Social Development, grades 1-5)


Our Children are Learning to Survive

by Yolanda U. Trapp

Guide Entry to 02.01.06:

The purpose of my unit is to explore the growing linguistic diversity in our society and schools, in order to propose a different and more productive way of approaching the issue. I will use children's literature that focuses on stories of survival in a symbolic way. Even if the characters of the stories, fictional or non-fictional, must die, the stories and the ways the protagonists think are eternal. With children who come to the United States without the English language, rather than continuing to view linguistic diversity as a problem to be corrected, we must change our thinking and consider it an asset for our classroom and for society in general. I explore this in two languages: Spanish and English, introducing English as a second language but also honoring and preserving their first language.

(Developed for Language Arts, Reading, Writing, Social Studies, and Science, grades K-4; recommended for Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science, grades K-4)


His Story, Her Story, Our Story / Narrating History Through Art

by Sandra Friday

Guide Entry to 02.01.07:

This unit, which I will implement in an English class for the duration of a marking period could also be implemented in a history class. It explores art as the narrative of both public and private history, or art as the memory holder of history, much of which is a narrative of survival stories. It is designed for my at-risk high school students whom I have found respond favorably and open up creatively when studying and creating art, where they least expect it : in an academic class , as part of their learning experience, in a school that offers a basic curriculum: English, Social Studies, Math, and Science.

Hence this unit explores how various mediums of art: short stories, children's storybooks, non-fiction, paintings, murals, videos, poetry, rap, CD's, and drama narrate the events of history and the survival stories of individuals, groups, movements, and whole cultures, often in highly imaginative and creative ways that lead the viewer to a new understanding. The ultimate goal of this exploration is to lead the students to discover and participate in, individually and collaboratively, their own creativity in these artistic mediums. Each student will select from the menu they have sampled the medium they would like to use to narrate a public or private event in history or a survival story: theirs or someone else's. The class as a whole will design and paint a mural spanning a wall in the school cafeteria.

Because this is an English curriculum, it also incorporates visual literacy with the writing process . At the end of the unit, students not only will have the art they have created, but, detailed in my lesson plans, they will also have a portfolio in which they have relied on their skills in visual literacy to create a five-paragraph essay , another skill that is one of the cornerstones of the classes I teach.

(Developed for English and World Literature, grades 9-12; recommended for English and World Literature, grades 9-12)


Child Survival Stories: Hope to Cope

by Kevin P. Inge

Guide Entry to 02.01.08:

My Child Survival Stories: Hope to Cope was created to give students positive direction and motivation to succeed in life. The unit explores areas that include captivity, slavery, racism, poverty, gangs, and education. Sociology and character building are major components. Our youth today are faced with many challenges. They are often unclear to what they are surviving or how to cope with it. In my unit students will explore how other children overcome tremendous obstacles to succeed in life.

This unit was designed with middle school students in mind. It can be adapted to meet the needs of any students. The books I've selected for this unit tap many of the struggles inner-city students facetherefore giving them interest and motivation. The students will engage in art, drama, games, poetry, writing, reading, pen pals, science, history, sociology and problem solving skills.

(Developed for History, Language Arts, Science, and Social Development, grade 5; recommended for History, Language Arts, and Science, grades 5-7)


Survivor: Not Just a TV Show -- An exploration of the character traits of survivors of the teenage years

by Amber Stolz

Guide Entry to 02.01.09:

My 'Survivor' Curriculum was developed after watching a student in crisis. After discussing his problems, he picked up a notebook and proceeded to write a rap. Writing allowed him to express the emotions that were overwhelming him. I realized this inciden t could be expanded upon to help students experiencing similar emotions.

I realized that students could learn from examining characters in current forms of media. The material for this curriculum will be a collection of songs, movies, television shows, poems, short stories, and comic strips, many of which students are familiar with. Through these accessible materials, students will analyze the effectiveness of the character's choices, their traits, and the value of the medium for telling the story.

After students are led through the process of character analysis, they will turn the process inward. Students will have frequent writing assignments; the final assignment will be a project in which students work together to create their own survival story . Students will select the form their story will take.

This curriculum could be modified for any age group. I will be teaching it at a high school level. The skills that will be focused on are analytical thinking as well as proper writing techniques.

(Developed for Mandatory Enrichment Program, High School grades 9-10; recommended for English and Character Education, Middle and High School grades)


Willie and Friends: Overcomers in the Land - Stories by Faith Ringgold

by Geraldine Martin

Guide Entry to 02.01.10:

In my unit I use strategies in which the stories of Faith Ringgold and the art of puppetry can be integrated to help children look beyond their struggles, problems, and surroundings so they can become exceptional young people by facing the challenges in their daily lives. The unit, whose primary emphasis is literature, will also integrate various art forms such as writing, music, drama, and crafts.

Willie (a classroom puppet) will assist the teacher in introducing and reading Faith Ringgold's stories such as Tar Beach , Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky , The Invisible Princess , Dinner at Aunt Connie's House just to name a few of the books found in the unit. A culminating activity includes a drama production based on the story If a Bus Could Talk .

The unit includes activities suitable for children in kindergarten through third grades with an emphasis on literacy for the first grade child.

(Developed for Reading and Language Arts, grade 1; recommended for Reading and Language Arts, grade 1)

II. Exploring the Middle East: Hands-On Approaches

Introduction by Ellen Lust-Okar, Assistant Professor of Political Science

The terrorist attacks on September 11th brought the Middle East to the forefront of American consciousness. Students of all ages had questions: Why did it happen? Who did it? Why do “they” hate us? This placed teachers in the position to answer these questions, but many had few answers themselves.

These units developed from a seminar intended to address these questions. The seminar focused on contemporary politics of the Middle East. It was intended not only to help teachers understand the “high politics” of the region -- the battles between elites that have led to the establishment of borders, wars and peace, and changes in political regimes, but also to allow them to examine how these politics affected individuals’ everyday experiences. In addition to using conventional academic materials, it used contemporary feature films from the Middle East, memoirs, and novels to explore the attitudes and concerns of the people in the region. After exploring this material, teachers returned at the end of the seminar to the questions of what motivated the attacks on September 11th, and how the US could respond.

In their units, the teachers chose to focus on the question, “who are the people in the Middle East?” The first two units, those by David Howe and Angelo Pompano, explore the societies, languages, customs, religions and geography of the region. David Howe’s unit does so cross-nationally, comparing Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Saudi Arabia, while Angelo Pompano’s unit explores diversity within a single case, Lebanon. The third unit, by Judith Zurkus, also gives teachers and students an opportunity to examine the religion, culture, lifestyle and materials in the region, although in this case with an emphasis on Islamic Art.

In writing their units, these teachers grappled successfully with the question of how to teach children about “the other.” They pay particular attention to the diversity within the Middle East and to the extent to which the lives for children in the Middle East are similar to those of their students. Recognizing the diversity in the region and giving students the capacity to see how their experiences match those of children in the Middle East help to counter the tendency to stereotype the people in the region. As Angelo Pompano writes, “By seeing the diverse Arab subcultures within the Lebanese culture, it is hoped that the students will understand that it is impossible to make generalization about Arabs just as it is impossible to make generalizations about any group.”

The units also provide fascinating hands-on learning experiences for elementary and secondary school students. Each teacher gives students the opportunity to be creative while exploring the region. David Howe provides students with the opportunity to create a game, establishing the rules of play, the style of the board, and other features of the game in addition to gathering the information on the Middle East. Angelo Pompano establishes a framework through which a team of teachers can work together, combining learning experiences that culminate in a traditional Lebanese festival. Finally, Judith Zurkus provides an intriguing way for students to recreate Islamic art, focusing on textiles, metalwork, calligraphy and miniature paintings. In each case, the emphasis is on allowing students to explore their own creativity as well as the region.

These complementary units, which teachers may wish to combine in various ways, thus provide excellent introductions to studying society and culture in the Middle East. They give students an opportunity to be creative, gain self-esteem, and develop skills in language, history, art, music and social studies. They also allow them to learn about a region that is becoming increasingly important to students today. As the Middle East continues to be at the forefront of US politics, and students are ever more aware of this region, such introductions that allow them to understand the region through experiences that are fun, creative and informative will be increasingly important as well.

Ellen Lust-Okar

Synopses of the Curriculum Units


"Desert Fever": A Student-Centered Approach to Learning About the Middle East

by David Howe

Guide Entry to 02.02.01:

This unit will expose students to the Middle East, an area of the world they may have limited knowledge of and that is very different from home. In particular, this curriculum unit focuses on Egypt, Iraq, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. These countries have just enough in common, and provide just enough contrast, to make for a unit that is sure to be both educational and entertaining. Each student will learn about a specific aspect of life in one of these countries as they contribute information to their small group. (This unit lends itself to individual, small group, and large group assignments.) In the end, each small student will have played a role in the development of the class's board game. If, after the initial playing of "Desert Fever", the class deems it a success, the game can be shared with other classes. These students will have learned about other cultures; other worlds that aren't always so different from their own.

(Developed for E.S. Language Arts and Social Studies, grade 4; recommended for E.S. Language Arts and E. S. Social Studies, grade 4)


A Bash in Baalbeck: Creating a Lebanese Festival

by Angelo J. Pompano

Guide Entry to 02.02.02:

This unit explores the culture of Lebanon premised on the belief that students understand different cultures best when they are compared with their own. It culminates in a "street festival," based on a combination of a market place, the Muslim and Christian religious festivals, and the Baalbek Festival. Our festival has music, arts and crafts, foods, and displays of students’ projects. The intent of the unit is to promote diversity by discussing Arab culture as it relates to Lebanon, a country that is Arab but in which many of the Arabs are Christian. That coupled with a strong influence from the Western cultures and varying degrees of socio-economic status renders Lebanon a non-typical Arab country. The unit covers what the term Arab means and teaches a few basic Arabic words. However, the main emphasis is on Lebanese children. It discusses home life, school, food, religion, and recreation; giving the students the skills to celebrate the diversity between their culture and that of the children in Lebanon. By seeing the diverse Arab subcultures within the Lebanese culture the students will understand that it is impossible to make generalizations about Arabs just as it is impossible to make generalizations about any group.

(Developed for Social Studies, grades 3-4; recommended for Social Studies, Art, Music, Language Arts, and Across-Curriculum Unit, grades 1-6)


Islamic Art; Exploring the Visual Arts of the Middle East

by Judith Zurkus

Guide Entry to 02.02.03:

This unit is intended to be an interactive and a meaningful area of study for new arrival students in English as a Second Language program. These students arrive with various degrees of proficiency in English, but need continuing support in order to succeed in the classroom. This unit allows the students to acquire English skills by using art, which is a cross-cultural experience. This unit shows how some of the traditional arts of the Middle Eastern region can be brought to life for students through hands-on projects that can readily be done in the classroom. This unit explores the background of Islamic art- what it is, how it developed and was shaped by the Islamic faith and the Arab expansion. Its defining features are delineated. Five characteristic media are specifically discussed: Calligraphy, miniature, painting, carpets, and metalwork. This unit is also appropriate for use by all students, including native English speakers, as we become increasingly aware of other cultures. Attention is given to the development of English language skills. The unit is aligned with the New Haven Language Arts Standards.

(Developed for ESOL, grades 5-7; recommended for Social Studies and ESOL, grades 5-8)

III. War and Peace in the Twentieth Century

Introduction by Bruce Russett, Dean Acheson Professor of International Relations

This was a very lively and active seminar in which we looked at the experience of major international conflicts in the past century. It was in part a historical overview, but not in the sense of history as just one damned thing after another. We tried to be analytical, asking why the conflicts occurred, and in what ways they shaped later events. The purpose was to use knowledge of the past to deepen our understanding of current and future conflicts in international relations, and enable us to share that understanding with our students. It was therefore a forward-looking enterprise. Some of the fundamental questions we wanted to cover included:

How did use of the atomic bomb against Japan, and then reliance on nuclear weapons for deterrence, affect all international relations?

What purposes can justify decisions to go to war, and what restraints on the use of violence in war may be possible or necessary?

What contributes to the rise of international terrorism, and how can it be dealt with?

What are the times and areas of the world where peace has been maintainedfor example between prosperous democraciesand why?

This general orientation led to a variety of individual class sessions. Some were devoted to specific events, and others to more general issues of why wars happen and how they are fought, using several events as illustrations. Topics were, in order:

Is international politics different from politics within countries?

World War II: Why did it happen, and how did it end?

The Cold War begins: How and why?

Nuclear deterrence and the rise of limited wars: Korea and Vietnam

The shockingly peaceful end of the Cold War

Gulf War: In defense of oil and sovereignty

The ethics and morality of war and deterrence

Civil Wars: Enemies inside and out

Terrorism and how to fight it

The United Nations: What is it good for?

A hope for peace: Some countries don’t fight each other

What can fellows take from our seminar back to their own teaching conditions?

The fellows’ own projects, to compile teaching units for their classes and perhaps for adoption in whole or part by other teachers, reflect this mix of focus on single events and more general phenomena. Most of the units are intended for use as subunits of more general courses for students in grades 9-12, though the last two units clearly are intended for younger children. I am impressed by the ingenuity that most of the unit writers employed in finding films, videos, websites, simulations, and other non-traditional educational matters to supplement readings and discussions.

John Buell’s unit, “Just War Theory and the Wars of the 20th Century”, opens the collection. While addressing the origins and development of just war theory in general, he recognizes that its interest to students will depend on its plausibility as non-sectarian principles and on concrete applications to particular wars about which students may initially know little. So he contrasts the just war principles with a purportedly “realistic” morality in which countries’ military and political leaders must and will do whatever it takes to win, and encourages students to take positions in this age-old debate. He then asks students to apply their principles to three historic events in United States history: the decision to use atomic bombs to end the war with Japan; the decision to enter the Korean War and to fight it as a limited war; and the difficult and still-contested decisions about how to fight the war in Vietnam against an enemy where the distinction between soldiers and civilians was often very hard to make.

Russell Sirman’s unit, “Questions of War and Peace: Using Case Studies to Teach American Foreign Policy”, also reflects this desire to stimulate vigorous discussion among students by asking them to debate and argue the merits of difficult choices. Sirman also uses President Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb in 1945 as a case; explores the Kennedy-Johnson decisions to escalate its military involvement in Vietnam at the early stages of that war; and finally considers the choices faced by the Bush and Clinton administrations in using American troops to support humanitarian relief efforts in Somalia. His emphasis is on the information and uncertainties faced by decision-makers at the time.

In “Investigating Conflict Resolution Through the United Nations”, Ralph Russo follows a more topical than event-oriented approach, though he certainly gives attention to a variety of concrete examples. Basically he is concerned with giving students a broad picture of what the UN can do to help resolve violent conflicts, and the limits to its abilities. He introduces them to a variety of concepts and agencies, with some focus on UN peacekeeping efforts. One of the strengths of this unit is its attention to role-playing and simulation, especially through materials available from the very popular Model UN exercises.

David DeNaples, “Ethnicity and Conflict in the Early 20th Century”, gives students of European and world history a valuable background to the ethnic wars that have plagued much of the world in subsequent decades. He focuses on the British, Russian, and Ottoman empires in the years preceding World War I. His discussion of nationalism in the Balkans proves enlightening, as do events during World War I, such as the Armenian genocide in Turkey and the bitter experience of Lawrence of Arabia in encouraging Arab leaders to seek independence from the Ottomans, only to find themselves subjugated again by British and French imperial ambitions in the Middle East.

These first units were designed by history teachers largely for courses in American, European, or world history, or in social studies classes. By contrast, the next two were devised by teachers of primarily for use in their own courses on French language and culture. They nevertheless have a lot of potential for use in wider history courses. Elisha Danford, “Debating the Future of Indochina in 1945: Making Your Case”, is, like the other others, concerned with sharpening students’ analytical and expository skills, but does this in the context of decisions by the Vietnamese leaders, pursuing their own interests against those of involved great powers (China, France, the United States) at the end of World War II. At that time, Japanese occupying troops were just being withdrawn, and other powers were moving into a situation resembling a power vacuum. She provides a variety of resources for students to play the roles of these leaders, forcing them to justify the policy positions they adopt. This unit may prove especially attractive to teachers whose classes include many students from families originating in Indochina.

Kristi Shanahan’s unit, “Expression under Suppression: The Artistic Response to the Occupation of France during World War II”, reflects her special interest in art history, as well as in French language and culture. She combines a history of French art (including that of refugees to France, such as Jews from Nazi occupation in Central Europe and Picasso from war-torn Spain) preceding and during the years of the Vichy regime) with methods of teaching students how to interpret a painting and to understand the intent of the artist. The paintings she uses for illustration, along with her text, give a vivid picture of the artistic as well as political struggles between artists who identified themselves with the resistance and those who followed a more collaborationist line.

In his unit, “African-Americans and the Military”, Burton Saxon confronts two conflicting perspectives on African-Americans’ experience of racial discrimination in the U.S. military, and in American society as a whole. In a critical review of several writings, Saxon traces the history of discrimination, from the days of sharpest segregation to the contemporary degree of equality, asking the degree whether the military followed or led the wider society. On the whole, he concludes that the military largely preceded other institutions in lowering racial barriers, and that consequently the military now offers relatively strong prospects of advancement to African-Americans. On the other hand, a high degree equality of opportunity in the military also means exposing African-Americans disproportionately to the risks of becoming wartime casualties. Saxon’s attempt to confront this problem in teaching and advising his own students provides material that should interest many others.

The two final units are addressed to younger students. Pedro Mendia-Landa offers a unit, “History and War: What About the Children?” for possible use in elementary classes. In it he addresses the effect of war on children, using as a springboard three Dr. Seuss stories, and a focus on the experience of his own ethnic group, the Basques, in their struggle for greater independence from French and especially Spanish control. It is a sensitive effort to address children in a way that will engage but not disturb them.

Finally, Joyce Bryant, “How War Changed the Role of Women in the United States”, focuses on societal changes wrought by the need for female labor in the factories during World War I and again during World War II, and how women’s employment outside the home helped to empower them. It also addresses opportunities opened up for women in the military services, and how that changed the military, women, and the whole society.

I hope readers and users of these units will enjoy them as much as I enjoyed leading this seminar and helping to shape the units.

Bruce Russett

Synopses of the Curriculum Units


Just War Theory and the Wars of the 20th Century

by John Buell

Guide Entry to 02.03.01:

"For as long as men and women have talked about war, they have talked about it in terms of right and wrong." This quote from Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars is an excellent starting point for a high school unit on the ethical considerations of war. The objective of the unit is to keep that conversation going by creating a framework which students can apply to specific wars and specific events within wars thus enabling them to make reasoned moral judgments. One of the central tenets of Walzer's book is that despite the vast range of human culture and diversity (often well represented in the urban American classroom) human beings share a remarkable commonality on basic moral questions. By establishing basic criteria securely founded upon the values we all share it is possible to entertain questions and take defensible positions on issues of war and peace on a deeper critical level than found in most high school history text books. High school students are particularly interested in moral questions and any intellectual exercise that calls upon them to apply their own judgment in this area is usually met with enthusiasm.

(Developed for 20th Century History, grades 9-12; recommended for U. S. History, grades 10-11, and World History, grade 9)


Questions of War and Peace: Using Case Studies to Teach the History of American Foreign Policy

by Russell Sirman

Guide Entry to 02.03.02:

The unit plan is designed to provide teachers with a set of resources and strategies for using case studies to teach students about the history of American foreign policy. The unit uses a case-study approach to examine three controversial issues in American foreign policy in which U.S. policy makers had to make important decisions regarding questions of war and peace. The specific cases discussed are: the decision whether to use atomic weapons to end the Second World War against Japan; the decision whether to escalate the Vietnam conflict by committing American combat troops; the decision whether to deploy American troops to support humanitarian relief efforts in Somalia.

The unit plan begins with a discussion of teaching strategies with a particular emphasis on using case studies as a tool for teaching analytical writing skills in accord with Advanced Placement standards and with the standards recently developed for the interdisciplinary segment of the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT). A modified CAPT grading rubric is provided to help teachers assess student writing.

The unit plan continues with a discussion about the choosing of cases for investigation. All three proposed cases were chosen because they provide a snapshot of decisions taken during three distinct time periods of American history in the twentieth century. The atomic bombings case captures policy decision-making at the moment the United States is emerging as a global superpower. The decision to escalate the conflict in Vietnam falls squarely within the postwar context of the bipolar international system marked by superpower rivalry between the United States and The Soviet Union. American military support for humanitarian relief efforts in Somalia in 1992-93 illustrates the complexities and dangers of foreign policy decision-making in the early phases of the so-called "New World Order" in international politics.

Next, the unit plan discusses the sources used to support each case study. The sources designed for student reading receive the bulk of the analysis; however, there is also a discussion of the reading list for teachers. Alternative classroom resources such as videos, films and on-line resources are discussed as well. The unit plan next moves on to a specific discussion of teaching methods. The Somalia case is highlighted with a set of four sample lesson plans that teachers can adapt and modify for their own needs. I conclude with an annotated list of reading and classroom materials.

(Developed for United States History, grades 11-12; recommended for United States History, grades 10-12)


Investigating Conflict Resolution Through the United Nations

by Ralph Russo

Guide Entry to 02.03.03:

Synopsis: This unit addresses the peacekeeping role of the United Nations as a model for resolving inter-group conflict. The unit contains activities aimed at increasing the awareness of the general purpose and function of the United Nations. A cooperative learning lesson about the Peacekeeping operations of the United Nations is included as is a simulated United Nations activity for the class. The unit is being designed for ninth grade World History Class but would be equally if not more appropriately used in a current events class or in a class of modern world history. The unit contains references to online sources, online class activities, and primary source material.

(Developed for World History and History, grades 9; recommended for World History, History, Social Studies, and Contemporary Issues, grades 9-12)


Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in the Early 20th Century

by David DeNaples

Guide Entry to 02.03.04:

The purpose of this unit is to find what role ethnic identity and nationalism have played in the conflicts of the 20th century.

"Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in the Early 20th Century" is to be used in a course entitled Modern World History. This course will be offered at Wilbur Cross High School to college bound students in the eleventh and twelfth grades. Although this unit was written to teach college and honors level students, with the appropriate modifications it can be used in any World Civilizations course taught at any level.

To understand the potential civilizational fault lines of this new century a student of history must: know the ethnic composition of the last century; comprehend the fundamental differences of those groups; analyze what role identity (ethnic or national) has played in the century's major wars and what effects those wars have had on conflicts of today.

The primary teaching method of this unit will be lecture/discussion, with analysis of primary and various secondary documents. Some primary documents will include eyewitness accounts of the horrors of the Balkan wars and WWI. The class will analyze such secondary sources as a standard history textbook, but also Armenian poetry and the classic film Lawrence of Arabia.

The assessment will consist of three exams and an essay. My goal is to model this class closely to an undergraduate college class in order to prepare the students for what they are about to face in an actual college history course.

(Developed for Modern World History, grades 11-12; recommended for World History, grade 11, Western Civilization, grade 9, and Global Studies, grades 9-12)


Debating the Future of Indochina in 1945: Making Your Case

by Elisha Danford

Guide Entry to 02.03.05:

This unit uses the brewing conflicts in post-World War II Indochina as a basis for developing persuasive skills. The unit blends history with student creativity as students use facts to develop and support a position on the fate of the former French colony. It was developed for use in a middle school French class, complementing the world language curriculum, but the unit is easily adapted to (and perhaps even better suited for) middle or high school history classes dealing with the 20th century. It could work especially well in a team-taught environment that blends social studies and world language.

One of the benefits of this unit is its lack of dependence on extensive outside resources. While outside sources can certainly enhance the unit, I developed it to be self-contained. Teaching in an urban environment has engrained in me the fact that not everyone has access to perfect libraries and media centers, so for this unit all the teacher absolutely needs is the unit, a classroom and students. This allows room for creative embellishment on the part of the teacher, so it can be easily adapted to particular student populations and class levels.

Classroom activities include reading a brief overview of the regional history of Indochina, developing a proposal, and role-playing (playing the parts of various countries) in a debate to determine the fate of French Indochina in 1945. Assessments include several writing tasks to focus the students' understanding of the points of view involved in the debate.

(Developed for French, grade 8; recommended for 20th Century American History, 20th Century World History, and French, grades 7-12)


Expression under Suppression: The Artistic Response to the Occupation of France during World War II

by Kristi V. Shanahan

Guide Entry to 02.03.06:

The expression of art, of visual art, has always played a key role in the understanding of a culture. In the twentieth century, the forces of two world wars and their aftermaths magnified this role. How was this influence manifested in art? How can art inform us about our strengths and weaknesses? How does art contribute to our ultimate survival? More specifically, how did the culture and tyranny of Nazi Germany affect the lives of the artists living in France, before, during and after the Occupation?

In my curriculum unit I plan to study several painters, with a focus on Picasso. They refused to leave France, even when it was dangerous to stay. We will hear of others, as well, who fell under the heading of "collaborator" with the Nazi Regime. What made each one act? How was their art affected, changed, received? If it is true what Ezra Pound said in 1934, that "artists are the antennae of the race," then what was the effect of censorship on the art produced by French and foreigner artists living in France at the time of the Vichy regime? These are some of the thoughts I will pursue in my unit. I hope that students will be enriched not only by the beauty and power of these artists' úuvre, but by their thought, their courage and will. Furthermore, it is my hope that this unit will be valuable to not only art history courses, but to history courses which focus on European history of the 20th century as well. In terms of lesson plans, students will learn how to "read" a painting, a sculpture or other object of art, in ways that help them to learn about a different culture as well as their own. And, since war has been and continues to be a real presence in the impressionable lives of our young, we will investigate the influence of war on the visual arts of this country.

(Developed for Art History and French IV, High School grades; recommended for Art History, World and 20th-Century European History, French, and French Art, High School grades)


African Americans and the Military

by Burt Saxon

Guide Entry to 02.03.07:

This unit presents an in-depth discussion of the role of African-Americans in the United States military. The unit focuses both on African-American achievements and the discrimination African-Americans faced within the military. Ten lesson plans are provided for classroom teachers. The unit is best suited for advanced students of United States history.

(Developed for Advanced Placement United States History, grade 11; recommended for United States History, grades 10-12)


History and War: What about the Children?

by Pedro Mendia-Landa

Guide Entry to 02.03.08:

Issues of war and peace in the context of children's lives are the focus of this unit. I begin by looking at the role of the historian and authors who pass from generation to generation the 'truths' of what is often taught. In order to make this unit meaningful to younger students, the role of children in times of war is explored. Children as refugees, child soldiers, and famine are described and studied. Three stories by Dr. Seuss frame the unit as we explore nonviolent solutions to conflict resolution and are presented as a way to contextualize further discussions on war and peace.

The setting of this unit is an integrated social studies unit that takes into consideration the history of the peoples that make up the classroom. This unit is geared towards elementary school children in the second to fourth grade. The ability to integrate this unit with language arts provides many opportunities for extensions into other curricular areas.

A list of student and teacher electronic and other resources is provided for the implementation of the unit.

(Developed for Social Studies, grade 2; recommended for Integrated Language Arts and Social Studies, grades 2-4)


How War Changed the Role of Women In the United States

by Joyce Bryant

Guide Entry to 02.03.09:

This unit is designed for seventh and eighth grade reading and history classes. Its focus is on the role of women and the changes they experienced during World War I and World War II. Its purpose is to increase students’ knowledge and understanding of World War I and II. It will provide an introduction to students who may be interested in a career in the military service and understanding the effects of war.

The unit can be taught in its entirety or in segments throughout the school year. It is designed specifically for seventh and eighth grade middle school students. It can also be taught to students on a high school level especially those interested in a career in the military.

War tears families apart. Factual accounts and information will lead the learner to ask many questions. For example: What causes war, and what are some of the dilemmas of war, and how do families solve their problems during war times?

The goals and objectives of this unit are as follows: to use World War I and World War II as a means to teach some history and social interactions, to improve students’ achievement in scientific concepts, reading comprehension, vocabulary and critical thinking skills. I also hope that students will grow socially, emotionally and intellectually. My objective is for students to learn their self worth and empowerment to be able to deal with the loss of a brother, friend, or father due to war.

(Developed for Reading, grade 8; recommended for Reading, Social Studies, and History, grade 8)

IV. The Craft of Writing

Introduction by Thomas R. Whitaker, Frederick W. Hilles Professor Emeritus of English

The seminar in “The Craft of Writing” was, in effect, a writing workshop. We read other writers and discussed their strategies. We wrote short pieces of various kinds and received each other’s appreciative and critical comments. And we tried to spend more than the usual amount of time in discussing the process of writing curriculum units.

We began our reading with Charles C. Mann’s challenging essay about the history of our continent, “1491,” in The Atlantic Monthly , a brief essay by Pat Schneider in Heron Dance , and some poems by Roque Dalton and Jimmy Santiago Baca. We ended by selecting essays of interest from a current issue of The New Yorker -and spending most of our time talking about Louis Menand’s beautifully nuanced profile of Maya Lin, “The Reluctant Memorialist.” Between the beginning and the end, our lengthier texts provided us with a range of quite different modes of writing. Each, in some respect, was about the process of writing and how writing may express and clarify our experience. We read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life , Ken Wilber’s No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth, and Mary Oliver’s book-length poem, The Leaf and the Cloud . We also read portions of A Cynthia Ozick Reader , edited by Elaine M. Kauvar, and Vicki Hearne’s Adam’s Task: Calling Animals by Name . And, for a different approach to the techniques of narrative and description, we looked at some chapters from Michael Chabon’s prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay .

Our short pieces of writing included some stylistic exercises, in which we emulated strategies used by Lamott, Wilber, and Ozick; some vigorous responses to the work of those and other writers; and a fairly wide range of prose sketches, poems, and chapters from novels-in-progress. We also spent a good deal of time offering suggestions to each other after reading the first drafts of the curriculum units.

Those curriculum units bring certain principles of writing-and of teaching and learning-to bear upon a remarkably various array of school settings. Each unit in its own way shares the seminar’s concern to elicit authentic writing that comes from the live experience of the students. Though we never mentioned the name of the philosopher John Dewey in our seminar, his spirit hovered over our efforts.

Robert P. Echter, in “Learning Writing in the Context of ‘Inclusion,’” emphasizes the importance of friendly and familial relationships to the learning of writing, especially for students in grades 1-4 who are eligible for special education service. His unit therefore points toward a likely range of quite individual and in some respects unpredictable transactions with students, other teachers, and parents. Shirley Goldberg, in “The First Six Weeks: A Writing Guide for Third Grade Bilingual Class,” brings together a range of specific strategies that she has tested with bilingual students who are learning to write English, some of whom may not be literate in their first language.

The next three curriculum units, by members of a team from Vincent E. Mauro Elementary School, aim to help students to become successful in writing through classes in Social Development, Social Studies, and Physical Education. Andrea Bailey, in “The Inner Voice: Writing as a Tool to Control Anger in the Classroom,” seeks through detailed exercises in writing to engage, clarify, and modify the emotions of her third grade students. Her unit is designed to work with the prevention program, Project Charlie . Christine Picón Van Duzer’s “The Craft of Writing through Narrative History” is, like Shirley Goldberg’s unit, intended for bilingual students in third grade. But it uses autobiographical narratives by young people and family stories, such as Carmen Lomas Garza’s Family Pictures/Cuadros de familia , to provide material that will elicit writing from the students. Joseph J. Raffone takes on the challenging task described in his title: “Integrating the Craft of Writing into Physical Education.” He proposes to lead his fifth grade students in Physical Education through a sequence of writing that will include journals, acrostic poems, short story compositions, and finally an interview modeled on those seen on ESPN’s Sportscenter.

The next three curriculum units direct their attention to the upper grades. Sean Griffin’s unit, “Writers as Artists, Artists as Writers; Response to Literature and Visual Arts,” is intended for an eighth grade English class in an arts magnet school. He will lead students through responses to a range of visual art toward an engagement both visual and literary with the work of James Thurber and Edgar Allan Poe-and compositions about their work. Judith Goodrich’s unit, “Improving Writing Skills in an American History Classroom,” is intended for an eighth grade class in that subject. It makes use of an array of analytical and expository strategies, along with mapping and electronic resources, as it aims to elicit vigorous writing from students about American history. Finally, Leigh Highbridge’s unit, “A Theater Workshop to Improve Character Development and Collaboration Skills,” is also quite centrally a unit on the craft of writing. This sequence for ninth grade theater students at an arts and humanities magnet school begins with exercises in writing that are usually found in a vocational preparation situation, and it culminates in a production to be written, designed, and performed by the class.

Thomas R. Whitaker

Synopses of the Curriculum Units


Learning Writing In The Context of "Inclusion"

by Robert P. Echter

Guide Entry to 02.04.01:

This unit aims to give a clear understanding of the importance of the quality of relationship to learning writing, especially for students eligible for special education service. Relationships that are friendly and familial are the vehicle for more productive learning. Unfortunately, a lot of what has been done under the name of "inclusion" has not taken this into account with a corresponding impact on learning. It is important to the acquisition of all subject matter. It is the fiber that gives the respective activity body as a human act. Calling attention to the sense of family and community in the learning of all subject matter is amplified in teaching students who are eligible for special education service because of their history of failure, fear and criticism of their attempts to learn. Someone once said it is an opportunity to study learning in slow motion. The quality of relationship impacts the quality of work and all subsequent learning. I refer you to my Institute Unit from 2001, "Working With The Powers of Children, Not Their Handicaps."

(Developed for Writing, grades 1-4; recommended for Writing, grades 1-4)


The First Six Weeks: A Writing Guide for Third Grade Bilingual Class

by Shirley Goldberg

Guide Entry to 02.04.02:

This curriculum unit is designed for third grade bilingual students learning to write English, with the understanding that some of the students may not be literate in their first language. The plan is specifically for use during the first six to eight weeks of school and leads into narrative writing. It contains suggestions and possible lessons that can be adjusted to the levels of the students. I have based these lessons on the Higher Standards of the New Haven curriculum provided specifically for teachers of English as a Second Language and Bilingual Education.

(Developed for ESL students, grades 1-4; recommended for Language Arts and ESL, grades 2-3)


The Inner Voice: Writing as a Tool to Control Anger in the Classroom

by Andrea Bailey

Guide Entry to 02.04.03:

The unit "The Inner Voice: Writing as a Tool to Control Anger in the Classroom" designed for third grade, consists of a nine step-writing organizer with a focus on managing anger. Students will evaluate their own work with checklists. Assessment consists of teacher formal and informal checkpoints. They will take place daily. The students will write about their thoughts and daily feelings to help them reflect and to pull feeling words (new vocabulary) from for their writing

Project Charlie, is a prevention program set up to help teachers help their students deal with drug, alcohol and anger management. This program is fine but how am I going to fit this in to my daily instruction? This unit will incorporate anger management skills (understanding the inner voice) and writing during a series of forty-minute writing lessons.

Writing, as well as social development, needs to begin at an early stage of a child's schooling. If improper social development skills are not in place, one of many problems can occur, the biggest of the problems being the high school drop out rate. This unit will empower practices in teachers that will enable students to stay in school.

(Developed for Elementary School Writing and Social Development, grade 3; recommended for Elementary School Writing and Social Development, grade 3)


The Craft of Writing through Narrative History

by Christine Picón Van Duzer

Guide Entry to 02.04.04:

The Craft of Writing through Narrative History unit is designed for bilingual students in third grade. It explores literature and writing using stories about real people. Writing is a form of expression: it gives our thoughts a home, a place where they can settle and take shape. Writing allows expression of our imagination in a way that visual images cannot because language is filled with nuance and shared meaning. Writing also records oral history so that other cultures and societies can share in each other’s stories.

The focus of writing through history is to encourage students to flourish within their culture as well as in the larger society. The lessons in this unit will explore the lives of real people and their perspectives on the world around them through stories taken from their dairies and journals. I think a first person experience will motivate my students to get excited about writing. Students will experience history from the first-person point of view by using biographies and autobiographies

Students will also examine literature as models for their own writing; investigate the events that shaped the author’s stories; and relate what they learn about other people to their own lives. At the end of the unit students will have written several of their own narratives that will help them understand more about themselves and to understand their place in history. Understanding the world and how the students are a part of it are the general themes of this unit.

(Developed for Social Studies, grade 3; recommended for Social Studies, grades 3-6)


Integrating the Craft of Writing into Physical Education

by Joseph Raffone

Guide Entry to 02.04.05:

For many years people thought of Physical Education as "controlled recess." As a Physical Education teacher this offends me because we are here to teach the students about the science of how and why their bodies work they way they do. Also, we teach the students socialization skills, cooperative play, respect, and teamwork. The whole area of Physical Education is changing rapidly; many teachers are integrating more and more regular classroom materials into the Physical Education classroom. The curriculum that I developed integrates the craft of writing into Physical Education. The curriculum was designed in alignment with the New Haven Public Schools' Physical Education standards. The activities included in the curriculum draw heavily on aspects associated with Physical Education class. These aspects include teamwork, cooperation, and communication. The writing aspect is introduced through a variety of activities including journal writing, acrostic poems, and short story compositions. The final culminating activity is in an interview conducted by the students that would take place, during either the morning or afternoon announcements. The style of the interview imitates the interviews seen on ESPN's Sportcenter. The students will be the ones using the catchy one-liners as well as quality questioning techniques. The whole curriculum is designed to be fun for the students, while at the same time integrating some writing skills.

(Developed for Language Arts and Physical Education, grade 5; recommended for Elementary School Language Arts and Physical Education, grade 5)


Writers as Artists, Artists as Writers; Response to Literature and Visual Arts

by Sean Griffin

Guide Entry to 02.04.06:

In preparing this unit I hope to present both literature and the visual arts to the students as a place for them to respond and explore both the work and their own lives. Through museum visits I will introduce the students not only to different pieces of art, but also to a method of interpreting the art that will help make them more observant and critical thinkers. In the classroom we will focus on writers as artists, examining both the written work and visual art of two authors. Among the artists to be examined are Thurber and Poe, but the unit is set up so that a variety of other writer/artists could be used. Students will be asked to write a "Thurber Fable" and a "Poe short story" as well as mimic the art of the two authors. Finally the unit will shift to an art focus when students are asked to create self-portraits and autobiographical essays after examining self portraits of both Poe and Thurber.

(Developed for English Language Arts, grade 8; recommended for English Language Arts and Visual Arts, grade 8)


Improving Writing Skills in an American History Classroom

by Judith Goodrich

Guide Entry to 02.04.07:

My 8th graders have a difficult time writing essays that address a theme or support a point of view. Yet in great contrast, during class discussions, the students show a remarkable ability to play with the facts and make connections. Somewhere between speaking and writing down the ideas, their thinking gets strangled.

The unit Improving Writing Skills in an American History Classroom is designed to help students write with a theme in mind and produce essays with a point of view. I have yet to meet an 8th grader who doesn't want to argue about some idea in history; and so, this unit will channel those debatable if not debated topics into writing lessons. In addition to working on writing with a theme in mind - taking a critical stance - the students will practice creating good topic sentences, detailed paragraphs, and strong conclusions. Students also will review grammar, parts of speech and sentence structure using sentence diagramming. The unit, although adaptable to any historical period, incorporates social studies content beginning with the Louisiana Purchase and ending with the settlement of the frontier just prior to the Gold Rush in 1848. Internet resources, including specific web sites related to our themes and a class web page will be used, as will tools such as word processing, Inspiration® software and PowerPoint®.

(Developed for Social Studies, grade 8; recommended for Social Studies and American History, grades 6-8)


A Theater Workshop to Improve Character Development and Collaboration Skills

by Leigh Highbridge

Guide Entry to 02.04.08:

For my freshman theater students to develop their acting skills and techniques, they first must approach the development process with peace, understanding, and collaboration in mind. When they are disrespectfully disagreeing, and not embracing the diversities inherent in the group's personalities, there is no successful collaboration, and so, no great development. This unit contains exercises usually found in a vocational preparation situation, including resumé and cover letter writing, work skills assessment, and also a job classification list. The actor needs to know about people, and how most people work. What a person does for a living directly impacts his or her posture, body language, mannerisms, speech and self-conduct. This unit therefore has a two-fold objective: it asks the students to realize themselves as workers, and, using comparison and contrast to their own character make-up, create believable characters onstage. Meanwhile, the students learn to work cooperatively, and with appreciation for each other. The unit culminates in a production written, designed and performed by the class.

(Developed for Acting I, grade 9; recommended for Acting I, grade 9, and Technical Theatre Production, grades 9-10)

V. Food, Environmental Quality and Health

Introduction by John Wargo, Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

The food we eat affects our health and the quality of our environment in surprising ways. It provides essential nutrients necessary for health and life itself, but may also convey hazardous biological and chemical contaminants. One of the more important lessons in food chain ecology grew from the world’s experience with nuclear weapons testing between 1945 and 1990. Nearly 2,000 weapons were exploded during that time, releasing nearly 200 radionuclides into the environment. At the time this testing began during World War II, very little was known about the persistence and fate of these isotopes. Gradually scientists realized that fallout did not settle quickly within several hundreds of miles of the explosions. Instead, debris and fine particles were often carried high into the atmosphere and were blown with the winds in different directions at different altitudes, settling to earth when they encountered rain. The larger tests pressed the radioactive particles high into the stratosphere, where they encircled the globe taking decades to settle to the earth’s surface. When they finally settled, scientists were again surprised to find that the particles washed into the streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and the oceans. They built up in the top layers of soil, unless plowed more deeply. And they were absorbed by trees, grasses, lichen and many crops, especially pasture grasses and grains. By 1953 the Atomic Energy Commission recognized the potential for strontium 90 and cesium 137-two long lived and dangerous isotopes-to accumulate in grazing mammals, released into their milk. This was the primary pathway of exposure for most people on the planet. By 1955, it was clear that mothers were passing radioactive strontium to their infants in breast milk.

The history of pesticides is remarkably similar. DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane, toxaphene and many other pesticides were designed in the 1940’s, and were rapidly deployed to protect both crops and the humans from disease carrying insects. By 1970, nearly 70,000 pesticide products had been licensed by the U.S. government. And nearly 200 billion pounds of pesticides were released to the environment, primarily to protect food crops during the 20th century. DDT was first found in dog’s milk in 1945, in cow’s milk in 1948, and human milk in 1951. Its persistence and movement in food chains was remarkably similar to that of other chlorinated pesticides, and the radionuclides. Many of the chlorinated pesticides produced tumors in laboratory animals, and led to their eventual ban several decades following intense use. These chemicals contaminated much of the earth’s surface, as many would volatilize, enter global atmospheric circulation, and rain down thousands of miles from where they were released. Pesticide residues are now detectable in the tissues of every human on earth. Many of the chemicals cross the placenta, circulate in rapidly growing fetal tissues, and some are released via lactation. The youngest among us tend to be the most susceptible to their effects, again a story similar to the history of radionuclides. Rapid formation of organs, the skeleton, and other tissues make pregnant women, fetuses, infants and young children especially vulnerable to chemicals that can damage genetic material, cause cells to reproduce uncontrollably, or behave like hormones that are important for normal growth, development and reproduction.

Our seminar considered these histories, among others such as microbial contamination in food, mercury in marine food chains, artificial flavors and fragrances, water contamination, and genetic engineering of foods and animals. By comparing these cases, we learned that those promoting new chemical or biological technologies rarely understand their environmental or health implications. The producers’ primary goal is to gain government approval to move new products to marketplace as quickly as possible. As food markets are global, this creates an enormous burden for government to track and regulate the extraordinary diversity of contaminants and deliberate additives in the international food supply. Few governments have the financial capacity to test thoroughly for chemical residues or biological contaminants. One measure of the scale of the problem is the fact that EPA has adopted more than 10,000 separate limits for pesticides in foods, creating an enormous detective problem to monitor and enforce. In the U.S. alone last year nearly 76 million cases of food poisoning were estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wealthy nations face distinctive nutritional problems tied to diets high in fat, sugar and salt. Americans tend to eat more processed than fresh foods; more meat and fewer grains, fruits and vegetables. These habits are well correlated with patterns of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and obesity. Our class considered alternative methods to encourage healthier diets especially among school-aged children. These included curricular innovation, which you will see in the pages following this introduction. Several teachers will administer dietary surveys to their students to make them more conscious of their dietary habits. We recognized that powerful institutional forces shape dietary patterns, and these will not be changed easily. For example, genetically modified corn introduced only 6 years ago now constitutes nearly 50% of the corn planted in the U.S. Since we have no labeling requirement, those who wish to avoid it (due to concerns over the absence of toxicity testing, allergies, or loss of biological diversity) have no way to recognize it. And it is apparent that the fast food industry is increasingly shaping the tastes and diets of children through their marketing efforts directed to very young children.

All of the teachers in the seminar were thoughtful and vigorous contributors to debates over what is truly worth worrying about, and the need for curricular innovation that somehow integrates available knowledge of ecology, medicine, and public health. Most of the teachers are involved in the sciences, but all recognized the important contributions of the humanitiesespecially historyand the social sciences to better understand the origin of the problems described above. A brief summary of the teachers’ units follows.

Abie Benitez designed a thoughtful and innovative curriculum unit for kindergarteners who will explore basic questions such as: how plants grow, their need for water and sun, why children need food, the source of common foods, and basics of nutrition and taste. What is especially interesting about Abie’s unit is her commitment to teach students about responsibility and how choices to consume healthy foods will benefit them directly as well as the environment. She will teach her unit to dual language students (Spanish and English) and the unit includes a variety of pedagogical strategies tailored to their strengths and needs. She will encourage students to recognize how the environment may affect the food they eat, and how their dietary choices influence environmental quality, especially trends toward increasing use of synthetic chemicals in agriculture.

Ray Brooks designed an important unit for students in grades 6-8 that will help them develop more competitive science fair projects. It is structured to teach students to think logically and critically while exploring health risks associated with agriculture, food processing, and diet. Students will study food-borne illnesses, as well as pesticide residues in foods. By tracking those foods most likely to contain pesticide residues, students will learn how best to minimize their exposure. This unit will also help students to better understand the importance of statistics and probability to estimate and compare risks.

Jennifer Chisholm created an exceptional unit for students between grades 5-8. New Haven does not have formal health curriculum for grades K-12, and this unit is designed to teach students the relations among diet, nutrition, and wellness. Jennifer will encourage students to take control over their diets and health. She will separate students by sex and age, and explore the effects of diet on body image and self esteem. Parents will be encouraged to better understand key concepts in the unit by receiving a student authored newsletter, and attending a school fair featuring healthy food. She also plans to offer physical activities after school for parents, staff, and students in an effort to link the concepts of diet, exercise, and health.

Judy Dixon teaches 5th grade science and geography and designed a unit that will inspire students to better understand the relations between aquatic environments and fisheries. The “hands on” approach to teaching science is evident in her plan, as students will cultivate their own fish, go on field trips, and study the special problem of mercury accumulation in species such as tuna, swordfish and shark that pose dietary hazards to children and pregnant women. Judy will also teach students about “acceptable intake” of contaminants such as mercury, a concept that underlies more than ten thousand separate food safety regulations. These limits provide the basis for government warnings or “fish advisories.” Judy’s product is an outstanding example of the potential to integrate basic concepts of ecology, especially food chain dynamics, with the study of diet and human health.

Mary Jones teaches 6th grade science, and will concentrate on defining a health promoting diet. She plans to teach students how to purchase and prepare healthy foods. Students will explore whether vegetarianism is a healthier lifestyle, acquaint students with the strengths and limits of the government’s food pyramid recommendations and labeling efforts. The strength of Mary’s method is to allow students to see opposing viewpoints, and then decide what constitutes a sensible and health-promoting diet. She will examine the environmental and health risks associated with beef production and consumption, and the special problem of pesticides and food safety. Her unit also will include a food intake diary, in an effort to make students more conscious of the foods they consume.

Joe Lewis is a middle school science teacher, and has created an outstanding unit to develop environmental science fair projects. He provides conceptual and practical advice to those who teach science and train students to enter the fairs. His unit will meet New Haven Public School Performance Standards regarding scientific inquiry. He will focus on scientific method and teach this through two experiments, one exploring the effects of earthworms on plant growth, and another examining the effects of pesticides on earthworms.

Roberta Mazzucco completed a unit entitled: You Are What You Eat: How Food Quality Affects Your Health, designed for 3rd grade students. Students will also prepare a food diary, explore cultural variation in dietary patterns, the foundations of nutrition, the diversity of international sources of food, how food is processed, and how its quality is affected. The unit will also include a cooking experiment and taste testing. This unit is crisply organized, and covers many food safety issues in with precision and excellent documentation.

Joanne Pompano teaches blind or visually impaired 9th-12th grade students. She will examine the growth and development of the visual system, and the relations between diet and visual health. The importance of prenatal care will be stressed. She will review the most common diseases of the visual system that may be exacerbated by certain dietary patterns. She also briefly reviews the literature on visual system birth defects that have been associated with prenatal pesticide exposures. This unit is scientifically accurate and should be widely read by teachers of visually impaired students.

Jacqueline Porter is a 6th-8th grade special education teacher of science and life science. She writes about food-borne diseases caused by E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. Students will learn to recognize who is especially susceptible to these illnesses-pregnant women, children, the elderly and those with other illnesses, and the most common sources of contamination. Importantly, students will learn how they may best avoid microbial contaminants. The scale of food-borne illness in the U.S. is staggering76 million cases each yearwith the severity increasing as bacteria develop increased resistance to antibiotics. Jacqueline’s contribution should be required reading for science teachers in the U.S.

Gwendolyn Robinson teaches 7th and 8th grade science, and has created a curriculum unit that explores the health benefits of vegetarianism. She suggests a different food pyramid than the one promoted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She recommends: a diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables and grains; washing fruits and vegetables to remove pesticides and other residues; increasing water intake; buying organic foods when possible; and learning to become a critical interpreter of labels. Gwen’s criticism of the government’s recommended diet, their allowance of pesticide residues, and the inadequacies of labeling are all well directed. She has provided many interesting and important lessons that will examine these questions in detail, and help students judge for themselves.

Together these units are the wonderful fruit of an exceptionally rewarding seminar. The teachers were consistently thoughtful, engaging, argumentative, and inspiring. For this I thank them.

John Wargo

Synopses of the Curriculum Units


Qué comes tú?/What do you eat?

by Abie Lane Qui–ones-Benítez

Guide Entry to 02.05.01:

This unit is intended to address the science content area standards for Kindergarten students while teaching about responsibility and using a second language pedagogical approach. Using the Little Red Hen - short story - both science and social development topics are addressed through literature. In addition, science facts are taught while second language teaching enhances both linguistic and academic development. The topics covered include: 1) The Earth - Our Planet; The Sun; and Water Changes; 2) Living things - Plants and animals 3) Why do we need food? 4) Likes and dislikes; and 5) We have choices.

(Developed for Science Dual Language, English and Spanish, grade K; recommended for Science, Social Development, and Social Studies, grades K-1)


Quality of Life Investigations: Risk Reductions

by Raymond Brooks

Guide Entry to 02.05.02:

This unit is intended to show the risks of contracting foodborne diseases and ways of reducing the odds of contracting this type of disease. The unit also is intended to give the student direction selecting a Science Fair Project involving food safety. Suggestions are made where Science Education for Public Understanding Program (SEPUP) lessons can be incorporated for the investigation so the project can meet the standards to become a Science Fair Project instead of just a research paper. A Science Fair Project is preferred to a research paper as a project will receive more exposure. Several adults will judge the project and all students will have an opportunity to view the project when it is on display.

There are a variety of ways a student may approach his/her topic. The student may investigate various topics on risks and risk reductions, food handling and/or consumption. Again, SEPUP activities may be used to meet the criteria for a Science Fair Project.

Most of the information in the unit deals with the problem of pesticides. Because of the way the amount of pesticides are deemed safe for human consumption, it is very important for people to become aware of the dangers and the alternatives that are available to them.

By encouraging students to investigate this problem of pesticide use, an interesting, timely topic can be explored and developed.

(Developed for Science Fair, grades 6-8; recommended for Life Science, grades 6-8)


Food Environmental Quality and Health

by Jennifer Chisholm

Guide Entry to 02.05.03:

New Haven does not currently have a health curriculum for its K-12 students; hence, reaching these students regarding the areas of health, nutrition and general wellness is strongly needed. Our school based health center, physical education teachers, school nurse, guidance department and cafeteria staff have formed a coordinated school health committee to begin to focus on ways of addressing these areas of concern. As a guidance counselor and active member of this committee, creating a curriculum unit around our school needs would serve as an effective tool for me to reach our students.


The entire school environment influences students’ eating behaviors and physical activity, therefore, a preliminary survey to discover the health interests and needs of our school was administered. The results of this survey determined that the needs to be targeted are: physical activity, nutrition and parent and community involvement. This unit encompasses these identified issues through a developmentally appropriate guidance perspective. I intend to address proper decision-making and problem solving skills to enable these students to deal with the current risks facing their overall wellness.

There is a need for teaching in these focus areas; yet without a designed curriculum these topics are often overlooked. As a guidance counselor, I can address these issues in an academic or specialty classroom to ensure that every student receives the information. For the purpose of this curriculum, I intend to divide the grade levels into fifth and sixth grade topics and seventh and eighth grade topics. The basic concepts and issues will be discussed similarly; however the content areas will be addressed differently in that they will be developmentally appropriate for each group. These lessons will be adapted and changed yearly so as to ensure that the same student is not receiving the same information twice. The lesson plans will be designed to reach students in an effective manner for their interest and ability in relation to the topic of health and wellness.

(Developed for all areas, grades 5-8; recommended for all departments and curriculum areas, grades 5-8; this is a multi-disciplinary design.)


The Aquatic Environment

by Judith Dixon

Guide Entry to 02.05.04:

This unit will focus on the aquatic environment and the fisheries. The unit will address 'Fishing Advisories' that are in place to protect individual fish species. The various fishing methods and aquaculture will be explored. The children will research and design experiments dealing with the current health risks that mercury play in the health of both fish and humans. They will have a long term project cultivating and growing sea animals. Field trips will also be a part of their study and research. This year my class visited the Northeastern Fisheries Science Center in Milford, CT. The research projects and general information were quite impressive. Next year, I will take my class there on a field trip. I will also modify the information acquired during our seminar to teach to my students.

(Developed for Science and Geography, grade 5; recommended for Life Science and Geography, grades 4-6)


Food and Your Body - How to Maintain a Healthy Diet

by Mary Jones

Guide Entry to 02.05.05:

This unit is designed to help students learn to eat healthier. Students will become familiar with many Food Guide Pyramids. They will learn the daily-suggested servings from each food group and also how to identify a serving size. There is a section that focuses on the proper handling, storing and preparing of meats, especially beef.

Students will visit the Experimental Test Station to participate in an activity to test for pesticide residue on raw fruits and vegetables. They will learn the most effective way of washing food that will be consumed raw.

There is a section on eating healthy at a fast food restaurant. The number of calories is given for selected fast foods. Students will come to realize that eating healthy does not mean giving up all the food you enjoy!

The unit includes a web site where students can visit to determine the number of calories burned while participating in 158 different activities.

This is not a diet. It is a plan designed to help healthy young people make better food choices. Students seeking to lose weight because of obesity or medical complications should be referred to the proper health care provider.

(Developed for Science, grade 6; recommended for Science, Middle and High School grades; Home Economics, Middle School grades; and Nutrition, High School grades)


Preparing for the New Haven Public School Science Fair Through Environmental Science

by Joseph H. Lewis

Guide Entry to 02.05.06:

My curriculum unit, Preparing for the New Haven Public School Science Fair Through Environmental Science, will serve as a basic guide to the rules for the New Haven City-wide Science Fair and a tool for both teachers and students to use in order to produce science fair projects that will qualify for the fair. I will include two different experiments in the final section of the paper that my students in my CPEP (Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program) will investigate for their science fair projects. This will also serve as a guide for both the students and teachers to plan a science fair investigation for their classroom. This unit is designed for middle school students in grades 6-8.

(Developed for CPEP and Science Fair Preparation, grades 5-8; recommended for Science and Science Fair Preparation, grades 5-8)


You Are What You Eat: How Food Quality Affects Your Health

by Roberta A. Mazzucco

Guide Entry to 02.05.07:

The unit You Are What You Eat: How Food Quality Affects Your Health is intended for a third grade class. However, it could be utilized in grades two through five. The unit begins with students looking at what they eat by keeping a food diary. They then consider what things influence what they eat such as customs, region they live in, family traditions and religion. Students are asked to taste foods from other cultures that they may or may not be familiar with. Students then consider why we need food and how it affects us nutritionally. Students look at the food pyramid and use it to reconsider their own food choices. Students then consider where the food supply for their community comes from. The local state and international variety of the food supply is explored. The unit then considers hazards to food quality like pesticides, food additives, the proliferation of fast foods and high fat, salt and sugar filled foods. The unit considers the importance of understanding the food labels and making better choices. Students are urged to get involved with issues concerning the environment and to understand how to encourage government to continue to stress food quality and nutrition. The unit includes a bibliography for teachers and students.

(Developed for Elementary Science and Social Studies, grade 3; recommended for Elementary Science and Social Studies, grades 2-5)


Healthy Diet, Healthy Eyes

by Joanne R. Pompano

Guide Entry to 02.05.08:

A healthy well-balanced diet is essential to the growth and development of the visual system. This curriculum is designed to help students understand the relationship between a healthy diet and healthy eyes. It assists students in their efforts investigate the problems that occur when diets are not balanced or are tainted by growth and processing techniques. In addition, students are made aware of how certain eye conditions can develop or be controlled by certain foods or supplements to diets.

The unit begins by exploring the role of nutrition in the prenatal development of the visual system. It also provides information on the problems that occur such as diseases and disorders that are caused or made more problematic because of poor diets. It also investigates eye disorders and the role of diet in visual problems.

Developed for students in high school, this unit will assist visually impaired and blind students in their efforts to explore, analyze, and understand the importance of good nutrition for the health of an individual. The project will focus on the development and of healthy eyes and visual processing.

(Developed for “Life Skills for Blind/Visually Impaired” and “Resource for Blind/Visually Impaired,” grades 9-12; recommended for Science, Ecology, Environmental Science, Health, Special Education, grades 9-12)


Nutritional Influence on Illness and Disease

by Jacqueline Porter

Guide Entry to 02.05.09:

I am a special education teacher in a self-contained classroom for grades 6th - 8th. We currently study the human body in Life Science. I will introduce this unit during our studies of the digestive system.

It has been acknowledged that disease caused by food born illness causes thousands of deaths and millions of diarrhea illnesses. The Department of Health and Human Services has responded to these events by implementing new expanded performance - based requirements and standards for sanitation and microbial testing in the food industries. It has also created and implemented programs to educate the public. Everyone involved in the system, from the producer to the consumer, must assume responsibility for ensuring that their food is as clean as possible and that it is handled safely.

With my class I plan to examine illnesses that are nutritionally related, their specific causes and how we can avoid them. We will evaluate studies and come up with topics that we can investigate for a science fair project. My goal is that at the end of this unit we will become healthier because of educated decisions we make toward nutritional value and nutritional safety of the food we eat and prepare.

(Developed for Science and Life Science, grades 6-8; recommended for Science, Life Science, and Home Economics, grades 6-8)


For Optimum Health: Revising the Food Pyramid

by Gwendolyn Robinson

Guide Entry to 02.05.10:

The purpose of this unit is to change your way of thinking. It will concentrate on health, diet, and nutrition, in light of the USDA Food Pyramid. I think it's not designed to produce healthy human beings, but may, in fact, do just the opposite. As a result of much research and personal experience I have come up with the perfect Food Pyramid for Optimum Health. But you be the judge. Be sure you read all that is written here, do the research in light of the information presented, then give it a fair assessment by actively applying the principles and guidelines in your own diet. Give it at least one to three months following the plan precisely, then see if you feel this plan is worth presenting to our next generation of adults, your students. This may affect how you and your students see the school breakfasts and lunches as well. Hopefully, you will recognize the obvious need for change.

There is something very wrong here. Even the young people realize there is something wrong with the world. Not only do the buses crashing, child snatchings, drugs, illicit sex, and misuse of alcohol have their attention, but the growing incidence of diseases, obesity, and death as well. Practical approaches to resolving the problems of the latter group can be more easily adopted by the students if they are presented to them while they are practiced and modeled by us.

The content of this unit applies to all who hunger and thirst for the knowledge of a way to correct the erroneous health habits and to teach the same to others. No particular race, religion, creed, gender, or age should be excluded from the benefits within these pages. The foundation of this school of thought is presented metaphorically. The young and old alike can relate to this method of presentation. I have directed the information to fit young people from grades five - ten. It should take approximately one - two months to complete.

(Developed for Science and Health, grades 7-8; recommended for Health, Nutrition, and Science, grades 5-10)

VI. Biology and History of Ethnic Violence and Sexual Oppression

Introduction by Robert Wyman, Associate Professor of Environmental Risk Analysis and Policy

Violence permeates our lives. Wars, racial and ethnic violence and male-female violence are perpetual aspects of human existence. Adolescent violence, and the ubiquitous possibility of its eruption, is the background for many of the problems of teaching in and running our schools.

Much has been written about violence, much of it nonsense. One of the teachers in this seminar brought in a poster, circulated to schools, that states that the ‘roots of violence’ are “Poor Coping and Communication Skills, Poor Value System and Poor Self-Esteem.” There is not the slightest indication from the source of the poster what the evidence is upon which the claims are based. The teachers immediately recognized that Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Mohammed Ali (Cassius Clay) and many of the most violent characters in History, as well as today’s gang leaders, were very capable individuals who excelled at just those factors. Other examples of the baseless theories fed to teachers abound.

Recently, Biologists studying animal behavior have started to make sense out of the confused field of violence. The key observation is that our closest animal relatives, the Chimpanzees, exhibit the same kinds of violence that humans do. Chimpanzee communities slaughter each other in what might be called wars, males compete physically with each other for dominance, males batter females and adolescence marks the onset of violent behavior.

Archaeologists and anthropologists find that these types of violence are almost universal in all human cultures and as far back in history as we can trace. Our seminar discussed the biological and cultural roots of violence through history and across cultures, reading material from as diverse regions as India, New Guinea and China as well as the US.

The various units written in the course of the seminar explore and apply this information in ways that are appropriate for different school settings.

Kimberly Workinger’s unit, “Basic Animal Behavior in Domesticated Animals,” takes animals for its topic. This unit explains the interplay of instincts and learning in the behavior of small animals usually kept as pets. The audience is agricultural track students at the ‘Sound School,’ but, since almost everyone has or knows pets, the unit should be widely applicable to most any school setting.

Carolyn Kinder’s unit, “The Roots of Violence in Society,” applies the same biology-culture analysis to human violence. Anyone who has ever observed the uncontrollable rage and fear at play in an adolescent fight knows that a lot of biology is involved. Behavior which follows the same pattern from Chimps to primitive humans to modern humans is likely to have a large instinctual component. By explicitly comparing violent behavior in humans with violent behavior in the two species of Chimp (common Chimps and Bonobos) the similarities and differences are made clear.

Jessica Zelenski’s unit, “Motherhood: Biological Asset or Social Liability?” uses the “biological aspects and social constructions of motherhood” to discuss the terrible choices and situations which downtrodden women face. The approach is cross cultural; the students will read three novels centering on Chinese women, an Indian (South Asian) woman and an American slave woman. All three discuss women fleeing an intolerable life to a new culture. The slave woman is forced into committing infanticide, the Indian woman survives an attempted infanticide on herself and the Chinese women find themselves involved in symbolic infanticide/matricide in which mothers and daughters reject each other’s cultural identities.

Diana Otto’s unit, “Sexual Oppression and Religious Extremism in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale ,” deals with a literary exploration of violence. One cannot help but notice how many of the wars and ethnic conflicts in the world are religion-based. Similarly it is obvious that many of the worst examples of the oppression of women around the world have a religious justification. The Handmaid’s Tale envisions a future America that is engulfed in a religious war where the fundamentalists in control have instituted an extreme form of sexual oppression. Starting from the Biblical tale of Jacob’s wives offering their servants to be impregnated by Jacob, Atwood describes a society where women are forced to bear children for powerful military men. This unit should generate lots of discussion and controversy in any literature class.

The seminar stimulated a series of fascinating conversations, dissecting the all-too-common phenomena of violence from very unusual perspectives. We hope that these units will help you and your students recreate some of our excitement.

Robert Wyman

Synopses of the Curriculum Units


Basic Animal Behavior in Domesticated Animals

by Kimberly J. Workinger

Guide Entry to 02.06.01:

Paramount to effectively working with animals is an understanding of animal behavior. Is the behavior being exhibited "normal" or the result of injury or fear? What visual cues do animals give us to let us know how they are feeling? How do animals communicate with each other and with us? What behaviors ensure their survival? For that matter, what is the difference between instinctive and learned behaviors? How has the observed behavior evolved over time? What are the instinctive behaviors of companion animals? How does the knowledge of the behavior of animals relate to a curriculum in small animal care? Through a series of observations, lectures and applied activities the students of an animal science/veterinary tech class will learn about some of the behaviors typical of dogs and cats as companion animals.

(Developed for Animal Science and Vet Tech, grade 11; recommended for Biology and Vocational Agriculture, grades 10-12)


The Roots of Violence in Society

by Carolyn N. Kinder

Guide Entry to 02.06.02:

Every day some young adolescents in America's middle schools use violence as a way of resolving their problems. Many of them do not have the skills to deal with anger or feelings of hostility that they maybe experiencing as a result of conflict with friends, family or with each other. They need teachers and other caring adults to teach them the skills necessary to resolve their anger and conflicts.

The purpose of this unit on "The Roots of Violence in Society" is to provide young adolescents the opportunity to develop skills that are necessary to solve anger and conflicts in a positive and less destructive manner. The focus of this unit is on the status of: male-male violence, female-female violence, male-female violence, group against group violence and property violence (theft or vandalism).

This unit is written for social development classes and can be used with students in grades 5-8. The Roots of Violence in Middle Schools addresses Content Standard 2 of the Social Development Curriculum for New Haven Public Schools: Promotion of Emotional & Mental Health. This means, as a result of teaching this unit, students should develop pro-social attitudes and values. For example, students will understand the effect people have on one another, explore basic groups of feelings and their importance in our lives, analyze their need to belong to some group and the role this need plays in peer selection, and evaluate personal behaviors that may hurt themselves or others. This approach provides an effective way for students to solve problems and take responsibility for one another.

This unit consists of content knowledge, lesson plans, a resource list for teachers, teacher reading list, student reading list and a bibliography.

(Developed for Social Development, grade 8; recommended for Social Development and Biology, grades 5-8)


Motherhood: Biological Asset or Social Liability?

by Jessica Zelenski

Guide Entry to 02.06.03:

The following unit will explore gender-based oppression. Motherhood and the notion of it as both an asset and a liability will be studied.

Oppress-1 to weigh heavily on the mind, spirits, or senses of; worry; trouble 2 to keep down by the cruel or unjust use of power or authority: rule harshly; tyrannize over 3 to crush; trample down b) to over power; subdue

The dictionary offers the above definition of oppress. Oppression based upon gender is omnipresent throughout history and in contemporary times. While it is subtler in some societies than others it occurs nonetheless. It can easily be identified and protested yet rarely are explanations offered for this practice. This unit will explore themes of female oppression and consider the biological and social aspects of gender based oppression. Biological aspects and social constructions of motherhood will be identified and analyzed in a number of fictional and nonfiction works. Various issues and questions will be discussed throughout the unit. Research, journal writing and reading will all be included while studying these themes. In this manner students will learn to identify sexual oppression in its many forms and will begin to formulate theories as to its origin and to articulate reasons for the perpetuation of such oppressions.

The unit includes three novels that deal with themes of motherhood and sexual oppression: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Jasmine by Bharati Mukherejee, and Beloved by Toni Morrison.

These novels are covered in the unit yet several others may be substituted and included. Sociological and political issues concerning women's rights and reproductive issues also provide a broader approach to the issues presented.


Sexual Oppression and Religious Extremism in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

by Diana T. Otto

Guide Entry to 02.06.04:

This unit provides some discussion of projects appropriate when teaching Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale in the high school classroom. Margaret Atwood's novel is challenging and very interesting to students, who are interested in the premise: an oppressive religious movement has overthrown the U.S. government and has forced unmarried fertile women to bear children for the new government leaders, as environmental disasters have rendered 90% of the population infertile. A discussion of the novel and several of its themes is included. The novel is full of great possibilities to connect it to science, social studies, history, religion, and other literature, of course, and a handout for development of these ideas is provided. The unit is designed for students who are willing and able to do research in an area of choice and to write a paper and present it to the class. Assignment handouts, a broad supplemental reading list, and a rubric for assessment are included for the supplemental sources research project. Another project that requires creativity rather than research is included, and it contains choices related to music, journalism, and emulating the style of the author. An assignment handout and a rubric for evaluation are both included. An additional activity requires students to read Biblical passages that are twisted by the new regime in an effort to assess the ways in which different meanings can be attributed to the same excerpt.

(Developed for English, grade 12; recommended for English, grades 11-12)