Lesson Plan August 9, 2022

For Love of Humanity: Recording Underreported Stories for History


This unit was created by Lois MacMillan, a high school History teacher in Grants Pass, OR, as part of the 2021-2022 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program. It is designed for facilitation across approximately three 60-minute class periods. (Note: The first two lessons do not have to be taught sequentially and each can stand alone. The culminating lesson builds on what was learned in the first three lessons; it may take more than one day to complete.)

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

Unit Objectives:

Students will be able to...

  • Annotate texts, identifying historical events, superbly written prose, and further questions within the text.
  • Analyze and interpret artwork within a collaborative setting.
  • Justify the theme of humanity through texts read, annotated, and analyzed.
  • Create an original poem and a group mural weaving together favorite prose and artwork from underreported stories and personal connections.

Unit Overview:

Through this unit, students will encounter a refugee from Myanmar who traveled the world and found solace in writing, and an individual who became the recorder of deaths in a community due to civil war in Ethiopia. They will study artwork created by several Rohingya refugees and by Ethiopian artist Wosene Worke Krosof. To process and respond to these stories, they will craft individual poems using phrases from the readings, and will form their poems and the artwork studied into a group mural celebrating humanity. Through this process, students will practice annotating and analyzing texts and interpreting art and prose through “a collective exhibit…from the intimacy of art” (Krosof).

This unit is designed to support students in looking beyond themselves, (re)connecting with other communities, and developing empathy through collaborative analysis.

Humanity is the theme for this unit. Stalin observed, “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic,” so it is essential for students today to go beyond statistics and examine humanity through individuals. The study of history is the study of humanity and the first draft of history is written by journalists. Through the examination and analysis of underreported stories from journalists around the world and the expression of art, prose, and poetry, students may discover a humanity beyond the borders of their community.

Throughout the unit, the theme of humanity will be explored and reinforced through analysis of the following three quotes, alongside the focus texts and artwork:

  • “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama 
  • “One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life and dedicate ourselves to that.” – Joseph Campbell 
  • “During bad circumstances, which is the human inheritance, you must decide not to be reduced. You have your humanity, and you must not allow anything to reduce that. We are obliged to know we are global citizens. Disasters remind us we are world citizens, whether we like it or not.” – Maya Angelou

Performance Task:

Relying on wisdom from Ethiopian artist Wosene Worke Kosrof,  students will “create a visible, interactive surface—like visual icons that are accessible to everyone.” Students, as a group, will create a mural or sculpture that forms a “collective exhibit…from the intimacy of art.” Each student will use phrases from the texts explored in this unit, as well as their own completed worksheets from the first two lessons, to write individual poems that the class will weave together to create one big, collective mural.

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