Improve the Lives of the Homeless in New Orleans

By caroline vanek, July 2, 2008

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

Seven or eight 60-minute-long classes over seven or eight days


Homelessness is a huge problem in post-Katrina New Orleans, as the city lacks shelters and funding for other types of assistance. By discussing the problems of poverty and homelessness, the students will learn to relate to these experiences, and will then generate ideas to improve the lives of New Orleans’ homeless population.

National Standards

   Level IV [Grade 9 – 12]         1. Benchmark 4. Uses word processing software to produce documents (e.g., manuscripts, business letters, memorandums, resumes 2. Makes business letters using word processing software      
 1. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
  2. Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing
  3. Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions
Gathers and uses information for research purposes


  • Students will develop their writing skills by writing for a target audience.
  • Students will present their plans to the class to demonstrate public speaking skills.
  • Students will be able to empathize with those who have less than them.
  • Students will work collaboratively to create a finished project.



  • paper
  • pens
  • internet
  • word processing software


  • poverty: lacking the usual or socially acceptable amount of money and/or material possessions
  • recession: a period of reduced economic activity
  • debt: something owed
  • scavenger: someone who appropriates discarded or refuse material
  • squatting: occupying an abandoned building
  • addiction: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance


  Day 1 1.  Teacher will introduce what a business plan is and the similarities between a business plan and design plan.  How to design a business plan:
  • Identify the problem
  • Identify your audience
  • Design a vision statement
  • Gather all the data you can on the feasibility and the specifics of your business concept
  • Focus and refine your concept based on the data you have compile
  • Outline the specifics of your business
  • Put your plan into a compelling
2.  Teacher will familiarize students with the poverty problem in New Orleans through a PowerPoint presentation consisting of photos of the homeless.  Students will be asked to identify trends they see throughout the pictures.  Group the students and have them create higher order thinking questions they would ask a public official s if they had the chance, for example: What do you believe are positive and negative effects our city's homeless situation has on other cities? Do you believe the homeless have a positive or negative effect on the economy? (Think about the jobs that are created due to the homeless situation.) 3.  Teacher will talk about persuasion using visual aids such as photos, magazine, graphs, etc. 4.  Teacher will provide students with a rubric and group students accordingly. Day 2 1.  Students will be grouped according to performance.  Higher level students will be grouped with lower level students to promote collaboration and student-centered learning.  The groups will go to Tent City to interview the homeless.  Guidelines are attached. Day 3 1.  In their same groups the students will organize and discuss the information gathered from the interviews and identify the challenges (lack of water, exposure to heat and other elements, etc.).  Students will then brainstorm a solution.  Brainstorming will provide students with time to create and discuss their ideas, (create a 'Brainstorming worksheet' ). Day 4 1.  Students will collaborate and research different ways of improving the lives of the homeless and present that information to the rest of the group. 2.  Students will spend one class period in the library using different resources such as the internet, magazines, and journals in order to attain the information needed to support their business plans. 3. Draft business plan. Day 5 1.  Students will do peer editing.  Peer editing will consist of finding grammatical errors, making suggestions, and other constructive criticisms. The editors are looking for organization, cohesive, and effective writing. Day 6 1.  Students will edit and finalize their business plans. Days 7 and 8 1. Students will present their plans to the class.  Each group will be required to ask questions and make suggestions to the presenting group. (Goals and objectives are attached.) 2. After delivering the final presentation, students can write a reflection for other groups' presentations answering the following questions: Do you think the plan is effective and why? What would you change and why? What would you keep and why? If you were to take one idea from this presentation to replace something in your presenation, what would it be?


The students' business plans and presentations will serve as the assessment.  By evaluating their plans and asking questions after their presentations the teacher will be able to gauge the students' involvement, effort, and understanding of the objectives.  

Enrichment Extension Activities

  • As a homework assignment, students can write a journal entry of the feelings they had while spending time with the homeless and write how they think their lives would be different if they were in these people's shoes.
  • Students can study the history of homelessness in other parts of the world and compare it to the situation in New Orleans.

Teacher Reflection

Plan has not been used yet.

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