- Ask students (individually, in partners, in groups, or whole-class) to brainstorm a list of contemporary problems, issues, or controversies that they think are important.
- Introduce the Raising Awareness Mini-Poster Assignment.
- Divide the students into groups. Distribute a packet of 2-4 articles about a single issue to each group. (You may prepare packets on as many different issues as you choose.) Instruct students to read and annotate the articles (you may wish to have students do this in a “jigsaw” format), then agree with their group on a 1-sentence description of the problem addressed in the articles and a 1-sentence description of the solution being addressed in the articles.
Note: At this point in the year (and in the second unit also), I choose topics for students rather than have them generate their own list of contemporary issues. While part of the appeal of this kind of work is the increased engagement that comes with student choice, I feel that I can anticipate some of the issues that would interest students, and I need to have the materials prepared ahead of time. By the third unit (the Taking Action Project itself), students are far more able to do their own research, meaning that they can choose a topic that genuinely interests them, and I do not have to be responsible for finding and distributing all materials – a task that would make the project prohibitively time consuming.
- Ask students to review with their groups their descriptions of the problem and solution explained in their articles.
- Instruct students to design, in their groups, a mini-poster that raises awareness about their assigned problem and solution.
- Ask students to share their posters with the class.
Unit 1 Student Work
These are two examples of student work. Note that students did not create a final draft of their poster.
Note that this student work is not necessarily intended to be exemplary; it demonstrates a range of student understanding and skill. For example, Student 1’s written solution to the problem is not reflected in her poster. This kind of student response informs my presentation of the subsequent units – in this example, it showed me that I needed to help students better articulate solutions.