My Child Survival Stories: Hope to Cope unit focuses on how children cope with adverse situations in their lives. It was designed with middle school students in mind but can be adapted to meet the needs of any student. The projected time to complete this unit is eight weeks (or one school marking period). My unit will allow students to study various ideas and perspectives on survival that they can apply to their own lives. Because of their own "survival stories" students will be motivated to explore this area of study. This unit will help release students from self-defeating habits of mind and develop a hope to cope with life's issues. This unit will begin with students brainstorming about what people survive. I will record student responses on the blackboard using a semantic map. A semantic map contains a visual representation of a certain concept. Usually an oval is drawn with the concept written in it. Lines are then drawn to words that depict some kind of relationship to the concept. A square, star, or any other shape would serve the same purpose. As the brainstorming slows I will guide students to more responses by giving them clues. The semantic mapping process taps students' prior knowledge and gives them a purpose for learning. It also helps me as a teacher to evaluate where students are on a particular concept. Students will complete a "Survival Branching Exercise". In this exercise students will work in pairs. This lesson starts out with each student writing down something they have survived. After writing their statement they exchange papers with their partner. Students are to read their partners survival statement and then write down a question for him/her to answer. Without talking students are to repeat this cycle for fifteen minutes. This lesson concludes with students writing a summary of their partner's responses. They check with each other to see if their summary is accurate. Full instructions to this lesson can be found in the lesson plan section of this unit.
Students will then write a survival story poem. To write this poem students will use "story impressions" from Langston Hughes's poem Mother to Son. Story impressions are words or short phases taken from a particular story. Selecting key words and verb phrases from sentences seem to work best with this exercise. These words or phrases can be recorded on the blackboard or overhead projector. Students will use these words to create poems. The students are not required to follow the story impressions in order, but they must incorporate all the words in their poem. When students finish their poems they will read them aloud to the class. After the poems have been read and discussed I will read Hughes' poem to the class.
Students will write another survival poem without the story impressions to conclude the poetry segment of this unit. Theses poems will be typed and displayed on a hallway bulletin board.
Students will write a short survival story by analyzing a photo. The photo that I will use for this unit is a picture of a black teenage girl sitting in a regular classroom. Students will view this photo from an overhead projector. This writing exercise should take no more than fifteen minutes. The students will read and discuss their writings with the class afterwards.
I have selected four novels to be used during this unit. Each book reveals different survival issues to be addressed by the class. These books vary in their reading levels to meet the needs of middle school readers. I will display these books in the classroom for students to examine and select. Students will be grouped according to the book they select. I would like to have two small groups for each book. As students read and discuss their books I will move from group to group to monitor discussions. Each student will have to do a book report on the selected book. Students will do a lot of reading, listening, writing and discussion during this unit. Students will also compare and contrast their books with the other books being read in the class. This will often be done using a Venn diagram. A Venn diagram is a graphic organizer that reveals the similarities and differences between different topics. They generally consist of labeled circles that overlap. Where the circles overlap the similarities are placed. The outer parts of the circles are where the differences are recorded. This will allow students to visually see the similarities and differences between their books. I will use a "Survival Stories" Venn diagram to record student responses on an overhead projector. This diagram will display titled circles of the four book selections the students are reading. I will use color markers to distinguish between the books. Copies of this diagram will be given to students for them to record information. After the completion of this segment the students are to find a "survival story" book that they can read on their own. The school librarian can be very instrumental in helping students locate books of interest. All books selected most contain a least one hundred pages. When students finish reading their selected book they are to write a book report on it. The students are to complete two book reports as a part of this unit. Each book report must be three pages long and double-spaced. The double spacing will allow ample space to make comments to the students. The students must follow specific guidelines to complete their book reports. I will use a rubric to grade each book report. The guidelines and rubric points can be found in the lesson plans section of this unit. When the book reports are finished students will read them to the class. The unit will continue with the students creating their own "survival story" books. Students who feel comfortable sharing their book may discuss or read their book to the class.
Students will complete a Bible as Literature lesson as part of this unit. The students will explore the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis.
As part of the art segment students will work together to create a survival stories mural. The instructions for this activity can be found in the lesson plan section of this unit.