There isn't anything traditional about the type of student that is sitting in my class. Riverside Education Academy is formerly a transitional school that serviced at-risk students, who require a small structured environment to experience success. Although my school is now a magnet school, it is a program that is designed to strengthen the basic skills of the students attending our school, and provide opportunities from them to make significant gains. We offer a small flexible environment; which allows us to design a program that would be most beneficial to each student.
Some students enter as freshmen reading below reading level. Challenges relating to truancy and behavior issues have contributed to the reading struggles students have experienced. Poverty is a reality to some, and they live in a city where violence is running rampant in their neighborhoods. For many, school happens to be their only consistent and safe place. With the conditions in their neighborhoods, school has often taken a back seat for these students, and their reading skills suffered as a result. Due to reading struggles, many students find schoolwork difficult, and experience high levels of frustration. I currently teach ninth grade students, but will move with these students throughout their high school career. In other words, these students will have me as an English Teacher for all four years of high school. This allows me to build on the foundation that I have established the prior year, and challenge students further in their education. Therefore, it is my professional goal to not only strengthen their basic skills, but expose them to learning experiences that will allow them to compete and survive in society.
In this unit, students will analyze literary texts, photographs and film that document the adolescent immigrant/migrant experiences during early nineteenth to late twentieth century and the change of the immigrant experience over time. By the end of the unit, students should be able to analyze historical text, examine the immigrant/migrant experience, develop meaningful connections as an adolescent growing up in urban America, and finally, document how the urban experience has shifted over time. Reading and supplemental material are organized and grouped based on historical events. By the material being broken down into time periods, this allows for students to form connections beyond race or ethnic groups, because it is important for them to see that there were shared experiences that were economical as well. The experience of the immigrant/migrant should be the focus, as well as, how those experiences were shaped by the time period and presented comparative or contrasting experiences. As the unit progresses, students will independently journal their own urban experience; which will culminate into a final project documenting their personal experience as the final chapter of the
Growing Up in Urban America
. Ultimately, students will be able to determine how environment impacts one's life in a way that crosses racial and ethnic barriers.