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The Houston Academy of International Studies is a public charter school that opened in HISD in fall 2006. As the freshman English teacher for HAIS, I wrote this unit during summer 2006, before many rules, routines and procedures for the school were hammered down. This unit is planned for the fall semester and aims to help students explore the concepts of literary and social voice while using their own voices authentically to shape our new school. As an opportunity to exercise voice, students participate in a semester-long school-improvement project for HAIS. Throughout our study of literary and social voice, students keep a journal of their experiences at our new school, then turn those experiences into realistic ideas for change and improvement of their high school. They are assessed by their use of communication methods covered in class, like advertising, letter writing, journalism and public speaking. The goal of the assessment is to give students a legitimate opportunity for change and provide them with the skills they need to enact that change. While our school situation is unique because we are brand new, this assessment can adapt to a longer-established school environment. The topics of this unit social change, civil disobedience, and individual voice make for extremely flexible text choices. I plan to read Sandra Cisneros House on Mango Street during this unit, but I did not integrate the reading with these lessons yet. I offer examples and suggestions for other texts, but teachers should feel free to substitute them with any of the myriad texts available on the subject of social justice and change or containing unique voice like Cisneros.
Fugit, Faith, "Reading, writing and voice" (2006). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 19.
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