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Lesson Plan August 10, 2022

Shattering Broken Mirrors and Windows: Exploring Youth Liberation Counter-stories Through Photojournalism



This unit was created by Dr. Meghan Gowin, an elementary school teacher in Forth Worth, TX, as part of the 2021-2022 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program. It is designed for facilitation across approximately six 45-minute class periods.

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


Students will be able to…

  • Describe the characteristics of underreported stories and explain how journalists locate them in communities.
  • Describe the characteristics of photojournalism.
  • Analyze the various ways that photojournalists use photography to document activism in local and global communities. 
  • Identify youth activists in their local communities.
  • Create a photography project that  documents the lived experiences of activists in their local communities.

Unit Overview:

“Mirrors and windows” is a phrase that has been used to describe the ways in which students can witness the lives of others and explore similarities and differences of the human condition through literacy. During this unit, students will answer the following essential questions:

  • How have underreported stories of youth-led social justice movements been represented through photojournalism?
  • How have photojournalists portrayed the activism of youth domestically and abroad?
  • How have youth domestically and abroad acted as agents of social change in recent times?
  • How can local youth activism be visually portrayed through photography?

This unit focuses on developing students’ critical consciousness by examining how young people have led liberation movements across the U.S. and the world. Students will utilize photojournalism to examine underreported stories about youth resistance movements over the last five years. They will begin by examining the characteristics of underreported stories and learn about how they can identify these stories in their communities. Next, students will explore the discipline of photojournalism and the various techniques used to document the lived experiences of youth activists in domestic and global settings. Finally, students will spend time creating their own photography projects that witness the lived experiences of youth activists in their own communities. This recursive process of “windows and mirrors” will allow students the possibility to critically examine what social activism looks like through the prism of both/and.

Performance Task:

Students will identify an underreported issue that matters to them. They will then produce a photo essay project to demonstrate their understanding of the objectives of the unit. 

Each student will choose a peer in their community (a classmate, another student in the school, or a relative under age of 18) who demonstrates the characteristics of being a social or political activist. 

Students will then compile 3-5 photographs of their chosen youth activist to tell the story of the person’s lived experiences. 

Each photograph will include a brief caption or narration (1-2 sentences) that further explains the person’s story, what the person advocates for, why the person became an advocate, and what they hope will be the impact of their advocacy. The project will be created in Google Slides.

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