This unit was created by Michelle Dueñas Mowery, a high school English teacher at Gwendolyn Brooks Academy in Chicago Illinois, as part of the 2022-2023 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program. It is designed for facilitation across 8–10 105-minute lessons. For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.


Students will…

  • Engage with news stories about underreported issues through text analysis and discussion
  • Capture their community’s ideas of success and expectation by crafting interview questions and conducting interviews 
  • Make connections between ideas and barriers of success discussed in interviews to systemic, national/global issues
  • Present their views of success and expectations through a vision board

Essential Questions:

  • Is societal “success” determined by our environment? 
  • How do underlying systemic issues influence how we think about our lives and the lives of others?
  • Can other people’s expectations of you impact the outcome of your life and inform your definition of success?

Unit Overview:

By reading news stories about poverty, racism, criminal justice, environmental racism, and opportunity and obstacles in the United States, students we will understand and evaluate how lives are shaped by environments. With this knowledge and interviews with people in our community, students will reflect on and create great expectations and visions of success for the future.

Students will analyze how lives are shaped by their unique environments by reading a range of news stories. Then, students will explore the perspectives and experiences around success and opportunity in their own community, ultimately creating their own vision of success for the future. 

Performance Task:

Formative Task(s):

  1. Students will participate in small discussion groups based on which articles are chosen and reflect on the issues brought forward in the articles.
  2. Students will engage in Socratic seminars in their groups. 

Summative Task(s)

Students will interview a person in their community, exploring their view of success. Students will either present the audio of the interview or a transcript of the questions and answers. 

Extension Task:

Students will create a visual vision board about how they will achieve success in their future and present it to the class.

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Racial Justice

Racial Justice