Design for Social Justice

By Kwanita Williams, November 30, 2008

Grade Level

  • High School

Category

  • Urban Planning

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

8 50-minute class periods

Introduction

10th grade students in the Philadelphia School District are required to write a research paper. My students will read the novels To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines. Both novels focus on racial inequalities in our criminal justice system as a social justice issue. After reading the novels, my students will identify social justice issues in Philadelphia and/or their own neighborhoods/communities. The social justice issues will be the topics of their research papers. Moreover, students will develop a physical design and/or invention as a solution to social justice problems (eg. posters advertising AIDS/diabetes/breast cancer awareness, architectural designs for urban development, etc.)

National Standards

Visual Arts Standard 1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes related to the visual arts. Language Arts Standard 1.  Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process. Standard 3.  Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions Standard 4. Gathers and uses information for research purposes. Standard 8. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes. Historical Understanding Standard 2. Understands the historical perspective. Thinking and Reasoning Standard 2.  Understands and applies basic principles of logic and reasoning. Standard 5. Applies basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques. Standard 6. Applies decision-making techniques.

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6  Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing:

Text Types and Purposes:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10

Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Knowledge of Language:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3

Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.

Objectives

Students will:
  • understand the research process
  • identify community problems
  • develop problem solving skills by offering solutions to issues
  • demonstrate artistic abilities through design
  • learn about neighborhoods/communities through investigation

Resources

Chaperones to take classes on neighborhood tour around school during 80-minute period. http://www.census.gov

Materials

  • computers with internet access
  • sketch/drawing paper
  • disposable digital cameras
  • tape
  • glue
  • poster boards
  • popsicle sticks
  • collage materials
  • string
  • scissors
  • stapler
  • markers

Vocabulary

Note: Teenagers have very short attention spans.  This lesson is designed as a unit.  My high school is based on the credit system.  Students receive a LAP (Learning Activity Packet) once a month.  If a student completes the requirements for a LAP, a grade of 80% or higher and a credit is earned.  This lesson is designed to be broken up over a number of weeks. DAY 1 As I teach in Philadelphia, I use as an example the Franklin Learning Center which is located in a North Philadelphia neighborhood that is experiencing gentrification.  Low-income homes and houses selling for close to a million dollars are within blocks of each other.  The neighborhood is also culturally diverse.  Gentrification is both a social justice problem for the low-income residents and a solution for neighborhoods that have been ravaged by poverty.  I will assign student groups a specific client group (teenagers, elderly, cultural groups African American/Latino/Caucasian) to find neighborhood solutions. Session 1: Give students a handout including Philadelphia demographical information from the year 2000 based on US Census data.  Read aloud some statistical information to show students how to read the document. Session 2: Go online via SmartBoard or projector with screen.  Go to http://www.census.gov to look up local statistical/demographic information as an example. (For example, I will type in Philadelphia City, go under the category of income and read aloud a statistic.  I will then break students into groups to look for Philadelphia statistics under the following categories (crime, education, income, health, incarceration, gentrification/urban development, racial demographics, employment, income, family status (single/two parent), etc.)) DAY 2 and DAY 3 Session 1:  If possible, have a local designer come in to give a lesson on design and city of neighborhoods. Session 2: Students will spend the entire period researching local statistics online in the computer lab. DAY 4 Session 1: Students will conduct neighborhood investigation on the streets/blocks surrounding school.  Students will work in pairs.  One will take pictures and/or sketches of positive things, negative things, people, and something that represents each of the senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, sound).  Another will take notes and find a person from client group to interview.  Students will ask questions on interview handout. DAY 5 Session 1: Students will identify a challenge to address.   Encourage identifying the correct problem.  For example, if their challenge is that low-income teens have no place to socialize, students may decide to put together a plan or design a free neighborhood community or recreation center.  The elderly who have limited access to transportation may benefit from a neighborhood health clinic.  Various cultural groups who wish to promote their heritage may enjoy a diverse offering of eateries in the neighborhood. In their groups students should now brainstorm possible solutions to their identified challenge.  Encourage wild ideas, defer judgment, build on other’s ideas, allow one conversation at a time, be visual, and go for quantity. Session 2:  After the students have compiled a list of ideas, they should work as a team to select and refine three of the best ideas.  Ask them to create prototypes of these ideas either through modeling, writing, sketching, etc.  As a class, each team should quickly present their identified challenge and their possible solutions.  Allow time for the students to provide feedback.  If possible, bring these prototypes to a test group. Session 3:  After the students have had a chance to discuss/test their possible solutions, they should determine which idea they will produce.  Have your students use this session to produce their final product or any final presentation materials (if their solution is a system, service, etc.). Closure (the following week): Students can present their designs in front of the class (group presentations).  As a class, discuss how they addressed their challenge, what worked best, where they could improve, what they learned from the process, etc.  

Procedures

Teenagers have very short attention spans.  This lesson is designed as a unit.  My high school is based on the credit system.  Students receive a LAP (Learning Activity Packet) once a month.  If a student completes the requirements for a LAP, a grade of 80% or higher and a credit is earned.  This lesson is designed to be broken up over a number of weeks. DAY 1 Session 1: The teacher gives students a handout including Philadelphia demographical information from the year 2000 based on US Census data.  The teacher read aloud some statistical information to show students how to read the document. Session 2: The teacher will go online via whiteboard or projector with screen.  The teacher will go to http://www.census.gov  to look up Philadelphia statistical/demographic information as an example.  For example, I will type in Philadelphia City, go under the category of income and read aloud a statistic.  I will then break students into groups to look for Philadelphia statistics under the following categories (crime, education, income, health, incarceration, gentrification/urban development, racial demographics, employment, income, family status (single/two parent), etc.) DAY 2 and DAY 3 Session 1: Students will spend the entire period researching Philadelphia statistics online in the computer lab. DAY 4 Session 1: Students will conduct neighborhood investigation on the streets/blocks surrounding school.  Paul Schultz will also accompany as another adult chaperone.  Students will work in pairs.  One will take pictures and/or sketches of positive things, negative things, people, and something that represents each of the senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, sound).  Another will take notes. Homework: Students can conduct this same type of research in their own neighborhoods and/or choose to focus on the North Phila./Art Museum area surrounding the school.  Students will also be required to interview someone from the neighborhood. DAY 5 Session 1: Students will “narrow down audience” and decide on a social justice topic related to Philadelphia and/or neighborhood.  For example, students may decide to focus on the high dropout rate, school violence, AIDs awareness, diabetes prevention, abandoned (crack) houses, etc.  Once the student pair decides on the audience, they can begin designing a solution (advertisement posters, design murals to cover-up graffiti, redesign abandoned houses, etc.). Session 2:  Paul Schultz will be present to give a lesson on design and city of neighborhoods. Closure (the following week): Students can showcase their designs in front of the class (group presentations).

Assessment

Tings to observe:
  • Was the student a risk taker in the design process?
  • Was the student’s idea imaginative or strictly functional?
    90% or higher- (showcase material) a student went above and beyond the basic standards (innovative, creative, sensory detail, and neat. 0%-90%- a student met or attempted to meet basic standards (creative and neat) 70%-80%- a student fell below basic standards (barely creative, not neat Below 70%-failure; student did not attempt project

Enrichment Extension Activities

Students will spend the remaining three weeks of the unit (LAP 8) completing a research paper based on social justice and/or community-based issue.  Students will complete the research paper process by finding research (books, periodicals, internet, newspapers, etc.). Then students will write note cards, an outline, a rough draft, and final 3 - 4 page research paper including citations and bibliography following MLA format.  
  1. I really like how much community interaction and empowerment that you place on the students with this lesson. I think prior to having the students engage the “real world,” it would be good to give a lesson on how to interview and what types of questions to ask. The students can do mock interviews with one another or other members of the faculty. I have made the mistake in the past of making the assumption that all of my students would be able to generate questions that produce useful information for them, which caused them to lack direction moving forward.

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