In order to teach my unit, activating schema is always important because I need a base to begin my teaching. The overall unit question will be “Who am I and where do my ancestors come from?” “Why do I think the way I do?” I will start with anticipation guides and essential questions that the students will read and copy but not necessarily answer right away. They will copy then in a journal and answer later once they have read and researched the topics as a class. Some essential questions I will include are:
- What is the history of colorism? What is the history in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic?
- What is the difference between intraracial and interracial colorism?
- How might colorism be different in racially diverse locations versus racially homogeneous locations?
- What role did colorism play in the religious, political, and judicial systems?
- Can colorism impact socioeconomics, income, status, and wealth?
- “Y tu abuela, adonde está?” “And your grandmother? Where is she?”
The use of the Cornell note template is always beneficial when reading and annotating nonfiction texts. Students will formulate questions that they will answer after reading specific articles and literature. The information recorded on the note sheet can then be used to answer discussion questions and prepare for oral reports on findings in a think pair share. The other advantage of using the Cornell note template is that students practice the art of summarizing. Students tend to write more but include less relevant information. The summary sections help students maintain a focus and choose information that is relevant. Students can use sentence starters from the Depth of Knowledge rubric to formulate questions and answer them after watching videos from a pre-screened list. This facilitates the access to knowledge for struggling readers.
Graphic organizers will work well throughout the unit. The graphic organizers are useful because they drive the students to really interact with the readings thus helping them to recall important information for future use. When presenting new concepts or vocabulary the KWL (Know-Want to know- Learned) chart is effective. Students are allowed to gage a concept or vocabulary at their own pace. Once completed the students can pair up based on what they want to learn and share amongst each other what they already know. This also fosters focused classroom discussion which students do not get enough of. Especially with this unit, discussions are important because it offers us the opportunity to teach perspective and then relate it back to author’s perspective and author’s choice, another focus in the New Haven curriculum. When utilizing fictional literature, story maps are best because it offers the students a template to note take and summarize their readings for future use. Story maps make it easier for students to read and keep track of what they are reading. It also serves as a good study guide. When cross genre readings are assigned, Venn diagrams are useful because it gives students the opportunity to compare and contrast which is the basis for further writing assignments.
Technology in this day and age cannot be left out when teaching any unit, especially one so socially charged and relevant today. There are a plethora of documentaries both current and historical that talk about colorism. The documentaries will be viewed as whole group and reading response questions provided. Students will be allowed to view, reflect, respond, and share out. Directing critical thinking into oral expression is important at this stage in their educational journey. For struggling students, it is always helpful to give them templates and sentence starters. Because of the use of technology, lessons can be differentiated to facilitate and accommodate different learning styles.
As the facilitator, I will provide the opportunity for a class debate. It will be more of an informal debate style. It will be the vehicle by which students can express their difference of opinion and substantiate it. During the unit we will more than likely discuss topics that our students may not agree upon. Students when given the opportunity are natural born debaters and want to express their opinions. This will allow students the opportunity to formulate responses and learn how to defend those responses and opinions with researched facts. Debates cover various disciplines required by the curriculum and the Common Core Standards.
As a culminating activity, students will revisit the question of who they are and why they think the way they do. They will create an expository essay where they will express who they were at the beginning of the unit and who have become in regards to self-identity, colorism and societal impositions. They will write about the effects of slavery and colorism in today’s world and how they plan on changing the narrative for future generations or at least in their family starting one person at a time. The essay prompt will be individualized because of the diverse student population I serve. In order to facilitate the writing process, it will be done in stages. We will do the pre-write, rough draft, revisions, and publication. Students will be paired off by ability levels so they can work at their own pace and no one student needs to wait for the other.