This unit was created by Kelly Fischer, a high school civics, communications, and special education teacher at Vaughn Occupational High School in Chicago, IL, as part of the Spring 2021 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program on Journalism and Justice. It is designed for facilitation across approximately nine 60-minute class periods.

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

Unit Objectives

  • Students will develop skills as photojournalists, using images to tell their story.
  • Students will learn how to create meaningful interview questions.
  • Students will be able to identify assets and challenges in their community.
  • Students will be able to advocate for change by working with leaders to change policy. 
  • Students will be able to demonstrate empathy and work as an ally within their community and/or within other marginalized communities to effect change. 

Unit Overview

How can youth leverage their power to enact policy change?  What motivates leaders to work towards a more equitable society?  

When we hear stories about people facing  adversity; when we truly understand who they are and the obstacles they face; we are motivated, by empathy, to stand with them on their journey towards justice.  This is the vision of  “Thank You in Advance.”  It is bringing a personal connection to the battle for equity, putting a face, a story, and the power of  dreams realized at the forefront of policy change.  It is putting students at the center of their underreported story.

In this unit of study, students will work with  lawmakers or changemakers who are working towards a more equitable future through policy change and become their allies in the struggle.  Students will work with leaders to enact change by creating photojournalism projects which illustrate how passing legislation will help them reach their dreams.  They will be thanking them in advance for supporting a bill that will improve their lives and their communities.   During this unit, students will develop an understanding of underreported stories and learn how to tell their story through the lens of photojournalism.  They will sharpen their communication skills by learning effective interview techniques and speaking to changemakers.  Students will  foster a deeper understanding of the legislative process.  They will  examine assets and challenges in their communities and create a powerful, empathic educational community. 

Teacher’s note:  Prior to this unit, you will need to identify a leader, preferably one who is sponsoring a bill to address a challenge that impacts your students, or someone working closely with an elected leader who is doing so.  You will want to reach out to them to ask if they will meet with your students and work with them to  help them pass the bill.  Our class is working with our local state representative, Lindsey LaPointe.  Meeting her via our Google Meet was empowering and engaging because she is invested in the legislation she is passing.  

Performance Task

The culminating project for this unit will be a collaborative photojournalism story which illustrates how a chosen policy change will improve their lives.  Students will reflect their own experience and the insight they gain from studying an issue.   They will consider the proposed bill or amendment, the proponents, opponents, and their ally when designing and editing this project.

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Children and Youth

Children and Youth