Lesson Plan January 27, 2021

Are the Founding Principles Applicable to All Americans?

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This unit was created by Tania Mohammed, an ELA teacher, in collaboration with Nina Kogut-Akkum, a 10th and 11th-grade social studies educator at The Manhattan International High School in New York City as part of the fall 2020 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program on Arts, Journalism, and Justice. It is designed for facilitation across twelve 60-minute interdisciplinary class periods incorporating social studies content and ELA skills. 

For more units created by Pulitzer Center Fellows in this cohort, click here.

Unit Objectives:

  • Evaluate how marginalized communities have been photographed throughout American history.
  • Explore the relationship between America’s founding principles and marginalized communities using Pulitzer Center photo stories.
  • Practice photojournalism techniques including shooting, editing, captioning, and curating photographs.
  • Create photo essays exploring themes of democracy and justice in  local communities.
  • Present photo essays to peers.
  • Give and receive feedback on photo essays.

Essential Questions:

  • What are some of the issues that marginalized groups face in the U.S.?
  • How does the United States treat its marginalized groups?
  • How should marginalized groups effectively deal with the injustices they face?

Unit Overview:

In this unit, students will review photo stories that explore how the rights of certain marginalized groups in the U.S. have often been denied by government policies and negligence. As a result of the government’s actions, people in marginalized groups such as Black Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants have been suffering from unemployment, housing, poverty, lack of healthcare, stolen lands, and racial injustice.

For the final project, students will be asked to use the examples of photo stories as inspiration to take journalistic photos and write a short essay about injustices they notice in their own communities. The topic for their project can, but does not have to, relate to Black Americans, immigrants, or Native Americans, as long as it focuses on an issue that questions whether the U.S. is living up to its founding principles and ideals.

Performance Task:

Students create their own photo essays that responds to one of the following questions:

  1. How do the founding principles apply or not apply to your community?
  2. How has your community been affected by injustice?

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