This unit was created by Raymond Salazar, a high school journalism teacher at Hancock College Prep in Chicago Illinois, as part of the 2022-2023 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program. It is designed for facilitation across 5 weeks of 90-minute classes meeting 2–3 times per week. For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.
- Describe and cite examples of how writing and reporting evoke empathy
- Leverage strong storytelling skills to evoke empathy in their journalism
- Employ social skills to initiate and develop a meaningful conversation
- Demonstrate mastery of audio-editing software to produce an audio piece
Authentic inquiry leads to deeper learning. Too often, students research or investigate topics or situations that matter to them and only to them. In this unit, students will engage with questions that allow for a deeper understanding of the contexts that drive underreported stories and their impact on individuals across the globe. Students will cultivate empathy for others and explore and later employ storytelling and research skills to explore topics that matter to them.
In their final projects, students will cover local underreported stories, following one person’s narrative, but presenting their story in a larger context. The project is a challenge for students to tell a story without imposing their personal worldview.
To help students find unreported or underreported stories, they will find someone who has an experience related to one of these questions:
- When did you have to change a long-held belief?
- When did you realize injustice exists?
- When did you learn something important about your past?
- When was it difficult or unsafe for you to live somewhere?
- When did you realize there were environmental problems?
- When did you develop a new relationship with food or something else?
- When did you break with tradition?
- When did you do something you once thought of as impossible?
In this unit, students develop the cognitive skills of writing and research as well as the non-cognitive aspect of social skills in interviewing. Students will employ one of the eight questions to tell their own story and then cover someone else’s story.
As a result of the unit, students will produce TWO pieces of journalism that engage with any of the eight focus questions listed:
- A self-profile
- A profile of someone else
Students will choose one of the focus questions to cover their own stories in a self-profile resulting in a written or audio piece.
- A self-interview
- A self-profile in written and audio form (audio is optional but needed if students will create audio texts for the performance task)
So many meaningful stories go underreported in students’ communities. For this project, students will find someone in their community who has a story related to one of the essential questions. Through thoughtful interviewing, students will initiate and develop a conversation about the person’s underreported story. The interview will result in at least two forms of coverage:
1. Audio recording of the interview. Students will use their smartphones to record the conversation.
Educator note: While this unit uses Sound Trap, a resource available to the teacher who created this unit, this unit can be carried out with students’ smartphones using sound editing apps that students probably use already.
2. A written article. Students will use an article from the Pulitzer Center website as a mentor text.
- They will write a narrative based on the interview of the person’s experience
- They will add research to expand the reporting and significance.
3. An audio version of the written article (optional). Students can do this in one of two ways:
- Students simply read the article after the research has been added to the narrative.
- Students audio produce the piece. They read all the parts EXCEPT where the person is quoted. Students should insert the person’s voice from the audio recording of the interview.
Five week unit plan, including classroom activities, multimedia resources, and performance tasks for the unit.
Common Core Standards:
CC.11-12.R.L.5 Craft and Structure: Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
CC.11-12.W.2.b Text Types and Purposes: Develop the topic thoroughly by selecting the most significant and relevant facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.
CC.11-12.W.7 Research to Build and Present Knowledge: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CC.11-12.W.6 Production and Distribution of Writing: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.
For this audio journalism project, students interviewed students at Hancock College Prep and other community members from the southwest side of Chicago about their relationships with the following:
- The environment
- Racist situations
- Domestic violence
See the newspaper and story directory for summaries and links to each of the 28 podcasts or visit the full project page on the Hancock College Prep website.