This unit was created by Nicole Clark, a Social Studies teacher at Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., as part of the fall 2020 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program on Arts, Journalism, and Justice. It is designed for facilitation across approximately four 90-minute class periods, or eight 45-minute class periods.
For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.
Objectives and Essential Questions:
Students will be able to...
- Describe the origins of sickle cell and explain what sickle cell is and how it affects the body BY analyzing infographics (Day 1)
- Identify injustices that people with sickle cell endure BY watching a short documentary and determining the values, identities, and actions (Day 2)
- Increase awareness of sickle cell disease BY creating a found poem from the point of view of a sickle cell (Day 3)
- Increase awareness of the injustices related to sickle cell disease BY creating a poster (Day 4)
The essetial questions for this unit are:
- What is social justice and why is it important?
- Can an image change someone's mind? Can it create new perspectives?
- How can you make a difference?
In this lesson, students will use sources gathered through journalism to identify the injustices that people with sickle cell disease endure, and create art (poetry and poster) to not only bring awareness to the disease, but also the injustices people experience as a result of the lack of awareness about the disease. Students will read and watch multiple texts across mediums on the same subject (sickle cell) to increase their knowledge of the disease and to prepare for their performance tasks: writing a poem that demonstrates their understanding of the disease and increases awareness, and creating a poster to bring more awareness to the injustices related to the disease.
Show images of the following famous people: Larenz Tate, Tionne 'T-Boz" Watkins, Prodigy, Miles Davis, and Santonio Holmes
Ask the students, "What do these people have in common?"
Days 1 and 2:
1. Students learn: What is sickle cell? Ask students to read the text below:
2. Check for understanding using the graphic and questions below:
3. Review the attached infographics with students. Ask students the following questions for each graphic:
- How do you interpret this infographic? What information do you learn?
- What do you like about this graphic? Is it easy to understand? Is it visually appealing?
- How could this graphic be improved?
Days 3 and 4:
1. Have students watch "My Blood," an episode of The Weekly, a television series broadcast on FX and Hulu, and powered by stories from The New York Times. (For more discussion questions and activities related to this epsode, click here.)
2. While watching, students answer the following comprehension questions:
- Does the funding match the scale of the problem?
- What percentage of Black Americans have sickle cell?
- What current treatments or cures are available to people with sickle cell disease?
3. After watching, students discuss the following questions:
- What are some of the injustices that people with sickle cell disease (and their families) endure?
- Family Support
- What do you want others to know about sickle cell disease?
- Why do you think so little is known and being done about sickle cell disease?
4. Students reflect on the values, identities, and actions it represents, using an organizer like the one below. (This thinking routine is courtesy of Project Zero.)
Click here to view examples of how students at Two Rivers Public Charter School in fall 2020 completed this reflection activity.
Days 5 and 6:
In these lessons, students will write found poems about sickle cell.
1. Share a model poem with students. Here is an example created by Nicole Clark for her students at Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. It uses lines and inspiration from "My Blood."
2. Assign students a 4-6 minute clip from "My Blood" to re-watch. While they watch, students should write down words, phrases, and feelings that jump out to them as especially moving, interesting, or impactful. Students will use these "found" words and phrases (plus their own words, if they like) to write poems about sickle cell. Click here for a PDF of directions for writing found poems.
3. Students share their poems with the class.
Click here to view examples of found poems written by students at Two Rivers Public Charter School in fall 2020.
Days 7 and 8:
In these lessons, students will critique and then create posters for sickle cell awareness.
1. Review these example posters with students. Ask them to use the checklist on page one (also pictured below) to evaluate each poster. Can they identify the goal of each poster? The target audience? Do they use high-quality images? Is there a clear call to action?
2. Students should use the same checklist to plan, create, and evaluate their own posters.
Click here to view examples of posters created by students at Two Rivers Public Charter School in fall 2020.
Evaluating this Unit:
After completing this unit with students, educators may adapt this summative assessment to evaluate student learning. Read below for examples of reflections written by students at Two Rivers Public Charter School after completing this unit in fall 2020:
"We all deserve justice and fairness. This directly correlates to health because Black people with sickle cell are not being treated fairly, and they need fairness no matter what their skin color is."
"Art can help people be aware, and if they are aware of an issue, then they can get justice for it."
"Some people are treated unjustly because their state of health isn't understood or known."
"Justice can be conveyed and understood through art."