Building Aspects of Character
The New Haven and Connecticut State Curriculum standards emphasize the school’s role in building aspects of character. Specifically, the Connecticut State Framework lists responsibility, integrity, effort, persistence, intellectual curiosity, respect, and citizenship as specific areas for focused instruction. This unit will articulate and practice the notions of responsibility and persistence as they are two of the five self-regulated learning strategies listed and taught. Simultaneously, lessons and class discussion will touch upon the effort required to start, work through and complete a task, self-respect that comes as a result of achieving self-set goals, and the integrity most heroes demonstrate as they work, problem-solve, and succeed.
Reading and Responding
Connecticut state teaching standards for reading and language arts are structured around reading to interpret text and responding to literature through writing, discussion, drama, and other forms of expression. In response to these guidelines and the goals of the unit, there will be a strong emphasis placed on deepening textual understanding by making connections between texts studied and students’ knowledge of the world, themselves, and other texts.
Initially, we will discuss how we solve problems so students can begin to define, in their own words, character traits that will be connected to organization, responsibility, persistence, goal-setting, and resourcefulness. This vocabulary will be recorded and referenced throughout the duration of the unit and hopefully permeate their vocabulary long after the unit has concluded. Such vocabulary will be used to define heroes and their actions in various textual contexts, current events, our daily lives, and ourselves.
During the course of the unit, this vocabulary will be deepened through the study of multiple texts in multiple genres that carry similar messages about confronting and overcoming challenges to attain a goal. Students will be asked to express their personal feelings and reactions to characters and events, but such expressions will be substantiated by textual evidence whether paraphrased or quoted. Hopefully, at the conclusion of the unit, after discussion, response, reflection, and thought, students will be able to articulate the power books can wield to shape their thoughts and lives. As they connect to the literary heroes of Little Red Riding Hood, Pippi Longstocking, the Baudelaire orphans, Cameron Thompson, Roberto Clemente, and Harriet Tubman, they will see each character’s strengths and weaknesses in themselves and resolve to learn from their experiences.