Essential Questions: What role does violence play in our lives? How do we cope with violence?
As a result of this unit, I hope my students will feel empowered to write about their own lives and the lives of others in their school community. I hope that they will be able to use short texts as models for addressing both the reality and the impact of different forms of violence in a variety of contexts.
We will explore the following categories of violence: state or wartime violence, domestic or family violence, school violence, and urban/gang violence. We will read an excerpt from a memoir or biography that directly speaks to an experience with each of these forms of violence. We will also explore the impact that the experience had on the author's life. The connection between an author's life and his/her work is an essential enduring understanding for middle school students, and this unit will also help reinforce that concept.
The passages we read will have to be chosen carefully to avoid exploiting gripping accounts that may be too explicit for an 8
grade audience. Instead, we will focus on the author's reaction to his or her circumstances. I will have to avoid potentially objectionable materials. In addition, classroom activities and discussions must be carefully structured to create a safe and open environment to students, rather than a free– wheeling "share session." My emphasis must always be on the work–– the reading and writing of accounts of violence–– as much of the material that comes from students may be very sensitive. I might enlist the guidance counselor or social worker to co–teach as necessary and I will be careful to re–norm the class with our ground rules at the start of this unit.