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.


Students will…

  • 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

Unit Overview:

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 

Performance Task:

Formative Task: 

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)

Summative 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.

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