Classroom Resources:
Extended Lesson Treatments

The following lessons include more detailed discussion of the lesson itself, as well as examples of student work and teacher reflections on the lesson. For more lessons like these, purchase our new publication, Writing Our Communities.

  • Anecdotes to Artifacts: This pre-reading activity for When Clay Sings encourages analytical thinking and appreciation for diversity.  This method of inquiry transforms students’ interpretive abilities, challenging them to think more broadly about the meaning of a text.  It also encourages both individual and group work through an interdisciplinary approach.

  • Cityscapes: Architecture as Artifact:This activity is based on the premise that mathematics can be used across the curricula. Students are encouraged to write and to implement the notion of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) that math must incorporate “real-world” applications in order to be relevant to students.  Through an examination of community artifacts and local architecture, students are challenged to use higher-level thinking skills in composition and mathematics. 

  • Coming to America: In this activity students interview an immigrant who has lived in the country of origin long enough to have mastered the language and have distinct memories of that land and its culture. Students then write an article based on the interview that presents both the distinctive voice and the personality of the interviewee by using carefully chosen information situated in its appropriate historical and cultural context.

  • Composing Communities in College: This course at Kennesaw State University, grounded in the writing process, emphasizes primary and secondary research activities.  Drawing from an emphasis on authentic research, which includes site visits, interviews, and oral histories, this essay assignment begins with one of these primary research activities.  The students adapt the assignment to their particular interests and backgrounds and examine evidence of existing or ignored communities in their area through an actual observation or an interview.  This essay assignment nudges students to discover the complex historical forces that create and sustain communities around them.

  • Critical Reading, Imaginative Writing, and the Me Montage: This assignment asks students to exercise critical reading skills to a variety of texts and results in applying those skills to their own lives. Both elementary school and high school adaptations are explored.

  • The Great Gatsby and Community Research: This research unit takes a classic and connects it to a local community. Library visits, assignments to do research outside of class, committee planning meetings and literary “fishbowls” will serve as preludes to the culminating activities: a literary essay, and a committee presentation on the group's background research and their selected neighborhood.

  • Imag(in)ing Our History: This activity offers students a creative opportunity to reflect upon their own reaction to this tragedy as they craft a letter to their future grandchildren.

  • Picturing Family History: Students interview their parents about when they met, dated, and married. Interviews culminate in a piece of original poetry.

  • Presenting Humanities Research as a Journalistic Feature: This lesson showcases the results and details the process of a collaborative research project that culminated in a spotlighted feature in the school newspaper.  

  • Re-covering Imperial History: This lesson seeks to involve a diverse student population in an intellectual and effective way with the incredibly rich and complex forces that led to the imperialism of the nineteenth century. Students first read Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins’s children’s book My Place and then create their own My Place book with the assigned countries of China and Japan.

  • Recovering Underexamined Histories: This exercise is a short piece of response-writing to Diane Glancy’s Pushing the Bear, whose central topic is the Cherokee Removal. Students respond online to a discussion board about a text that questions the lessons of the Removal in the nineteenth century.
  • A Reporter's Recovery of Place: A journalism assignment for one student illustrates the possiblities of authentic research and student writing.

  • Searching for Oklahoma: This activity allows students to develop a clearer picture of their home state through a variety of methods. This activity could be adapted to any state with the substitution of appropriate texts.

  • September 12 Journal Writing: After viewing hours of television coverage of the September 11 attack on America , this teacher had to gather herself to enter her classroom the next day.  Life in had to continue.  This journal writing activity could be adapted to help ease the transition from any difficult event, local or national, and to make the classroom experience relevant to students’ lives.

  • Weaving Heritage Through the Strands of Mountain Windsong: A teacher's creative planning transforms having too few copies of the novel Mountain Windsong into an informative and enlightening exercise in critical reading.

  • What a Garden Can Teach Us: An idea as unpretentious as planting a garden can inspire an idea as significant as creating a community. In this activity students respond to Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman (or another short story or novel in which community building is a strong theme) with illustrations and ideas for strengthening their own communities.

  • Where I'm From: Personal and Cherokee Voices: This activity encourages students to consider both their personal community and the community of those who came before them through research and poetry.

  • Writing Places: This assignment fuses creative writing, interviewing and researching skills for high school students.  Reading poems of place by students and published writers begins the brainstorming process that leads to developing questions, image lists, and poem drafts.  The blending of the classroom and local community is woven into final drafts of each student’s poetry of place.

  • Writing to Focus Reading and to Imagine Researching: This lesson was designed to help us think about how to introduce others, unfamiliar with our program, to KCAC.  We used a particular article from a local newspaper as a springboard for introducing program concepts, research approaches, and writing strategies.

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