This unit was created by Stephanie Tsakeris, an 8th grade Social Studies teacher at Dr. Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy in Chicago Illinois, as part of the 2022-2023 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program. It is designed for facilitation across approximately 15–20 60-minute lessons. For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.


Students will…

  • Determine the difference between breaking news and underreported stories
  • Investigate and analyze the Native American experience from the past and present
  • Design and execute a podcast that tells an untold story from their life or community

Unit Overview:

“Our stories may not individually change the world (although some do). But putting what happened on the record to be reckoned with, built on and maybe used later to spark change—that’s more than a job. It’s holding up a mirror to the society we live in and contrasting it with the kind of society in which we want to live.” 

-Khadija Sharife

This unit takes students on a journey that investigates the power journalism has to change the world through the lens of the Native American experience. Students will begin by building their knowledge of Native American history in order to make connections to the current issues related to the underreported stories regarding the lack of reform in tribal jails. These stories will be analyzed using the following questions:

  • What’s not right and for who?
  • What voices are missing?
  • Are the proposed solutions to problems working and for who?
  • What impact does this story have on you? the world?
  • What does this story reflect about society? In what way is it a mirror to society?
  • Why does the world need to hear this story?

Once students have had an opportunity to investigate the Native American experience and how this experience reflects society in the past and present, they will begin the process of planning their own investigative reporting that focuses on an underreported story related to their life and/or community. Students will learn different journalistic styles and techniques in order to share their stories in the form of a podcast. Their podcasts will focus on answering one or all of the following:

  • What story do you know of that the world needs to hear?
  • What are the untold stories in your family,  neighborhood, or community?
  • How do your stories act as a mirror for society? What does it reflect?

Preparing to Teach This Unit:

Before launching this unit, it would be helpful for students to engage in media literacy lessons that cover some or all of the following topics: 

  • What is the news? 
  • How do you stay informed and why should you care to?
  • Where do you  get your news from? Is it reliable? How do you know?
  • What is bias? How can you use the Interactive Media Bias Chart from 3 Ad Fontes Media, Inc. to make informed decisions about the news?
  • How do different news sources look and sound different when reporting on the same news story?

Before introducing the podcast project, determine where students will share their podcasts. My class uploaded their podcasts to a class website. Consider what platform you’d like to prepare to share and present these podcasts.

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teal halftone illustration of a young indigenous person


Indigenous Rights

Indigenous Rights