I teach six class periods of 9th grade students beginning the journey to find their places in this world. They have gone through the difficult task of starting high school while navigating their way through an educational system that has been wildly changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have also been greatly influenced by many political and social issues that continue to impact their developing view of the world they live in.
I have seen many of my current students demonstrate much more compassion and understanding for their peers than I have seen in years prior.
Their constant concern for one another and determination to see and understand their peers inspires me to develop curriculum and lesson plans that represent the many views within our school.
For decades students have been developing their Language Arts skills by diving into the issue of racism using Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. This classic novel provides a meaningful perspective into the challenges that continue to plague our world today. Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes strives to accomplish a similar goal while providing students with an opportunity to learn from a boy living in a time and place more familiar to them.
While To Kill a Mockingbird continues to be valuable in the classroom, partnering it with the text Ghost Boys allows for students to see how Tom Robinson's plight continues to be a relevant story in our current day.
In my class, students will review both texts to develop their critical thinking and analytical writing skills. With both perspectives available to them, students will be able to learn about racism's long past in our society and its current relevance to them as individuals and those around them.
Also, after a difficult transition back to in-class and full-time learning, this smaller text will also allow students to make an easier jump to the more complex text that is To Kill a Mockingbird. Academics were put on the back burner for many during the pandemic and this unit will help students get excited about learning again!
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