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Lesson Plan August 8, 2023

One Paycheck Away: Budgets, Evictions, Homelessness, and Who Can Help


This unit was created by Jessica Pastine, an English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at the Kenneth “Honey” Rubenstein Center School for male offenders in Davis, West Virginia, as part of the 2022-2023 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program. It is designed for facilitation across nine 90-minute class periods.

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


Students will be able to…

  • Analyze news articles to determine if they represent an underreported news story
  • Read, summarize and analyze news stories to determine the main idea and key details
  • Analyze basic budgeting principles
  • Evaluate the context of a variety of media images, both local and national, that capture stories of people and communities experiencing housing insecurity
  • Write creatively about the topic of homelessness in the U.S. based upon what they learned from the news stories covered in the unit

Unit Overview:

Throughout this unit, students will examine underreported news stories about evictions and the housing crisis in the United States throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Students will read, summarize, and analyze these news stories with a focus on how they exemplify inequality and injustice. The stories will provide a springboard for discussions about living wages and budgets, evictions/homelessness, the stereotypes associated with people who are without housing, and other social issues facing people experiencing poverty in the U.S. Students will also learn about the basic costs of living expenses in today’s world via an online simulation.

Students will engage in several projects throughout the unit. These include the creation of a class photo collage/slideshow of images that represent housing insecurity in West Virginia and/or the United States. Students will also be asked to complete creative writing activities about the photo collage. For example, they can create a poem, song, or short story inspired by the images they curated to capture their research on housing insecurity in West Virginia and/or the U.S.

Performance Task:

Students will complete a culminating project capturing their analyses throughout the unit about the root causes and lasting impacts of housing insecurity on communities in West Virginia and/or other regions in the United States. Students will view a short film about homelessness. They will then be given a creative writing assignment that requires them to synthesize their research into the stories of people experiencing housing insecurity in the U.S. into a creative work. Creative writing activities will include poems, songs, graphic novels, or short stories inspired by the film, as well as the context and themes of the news stories explored in the unit. 


Formative assessment will be provided via direct teacher feedback.

Summative assessment will be evaluated using the One Paycheck Away: Final Assessment Rubric [.pdf] [.docx]

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