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Express Yourself Curriculum

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Unit Information

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Overview: These lessons cover subject matter in Language Arts, US and World History, Government, Visual and Performing Arts, and Career Technology. Lessons may be deployed individually, as a unit on social change, or in conjunction with a visit to The UNITY Lab.

Teacher Guide

  • English - Language Arts: An important skill students must learn is how to express themselves in a logical, effective manner using a variety of media. They are also asked to use a variety of resources to gather the evidence to support their points of view. Throughout these lessons, students are asked to do just that. In the first lesson, Common Ground, students must define commonly used words and be able to explain their definitions to others. Other lessons such as Making a Stand invite students to create presentations on topics relevant to their lives in school. There are multiple opportunities to bring the ideas of social change into the classroom. For example, during a poetry unit, introduce the idea of a Found Poem using articles or excerpts from the unit. A research unit can focus on a particular social change topic; persuasive writing can be emphasized in the We Declare lesson, and so forth. Whether you are teaching one or all of the lessons, students will begin to see the power they possess to bring about change. 

Tadashi Nakamura

  • World History: Throughout history, people have brought about significant changes all over the globe. It is important to make connections for students between the days of yesteryear and today. These lessons will help you make those connections between then and now. For example, when teaching the Magna Carta, bring in the lesson We Declare to show students that they too can have a voice in their government or society. The extraOrdinary People lesson can be done using individuals from any time period or across time to show the importance of the individual. Mapping Change can be adapted to a variety of topics, allowing different groups to focus on different issues over time. These lessons will help students see that, although how we live today is different than how people lived throughout history, how we bring about change is very similar.
  • United States History: The history of the United States is filled with examples of people bringing about social change. In fact, the earliest European settlers were seeking social change and justice when they came to the shores of this land. These lessons can be used in units covering: slavery, civil rights, suffrage movements and labor movements. Additionally, the ideas of these lessons are directly related to discussions of civic responsibility. The lesson Making a Stand supports the requirement of community service by having students develop a plan of action to improve a social condition, and then asks them to implement it in their school or community.
  • Government: Within most government classrooms, students are asked not only to learn about various forms of government, but to go out and engage in civics-related activities. The ideas in these lessons are directly linked to a person’s civic responsibility. The extraOrdinary People lesson encourages students to examine people who have made a difference, and to juxtapose their qualities with those of the student. This lesson reinforces to students that they too can be extraOrdinary. These lessons are often grounded in the past, but bring the lessons and tools of social change to the present.
  • Visual and Performing Arts: One of the more common methods used to make social commentary and bring about social change is through artistic means. Therefore, it is crucial to include the arts within a social change curriculum. In the lessons Common Ground and Making a Stand, students are given the option of making posters or creating visual presentations to express words and ideas related to specific social issues. The VAPA teacher can use the context of social change when teaching about the visual impact of words and images. Utilizing the creativity of words, Found Poems can be used not only to create a poem, but as sources of performative material.
  • Career Technical Education: Career technical education is becoming more important within the realm of education. There is a much greater need for students to come out of High School with technical training. The lessons included in this curriculum will bring skills to students in regard of the Arts, Media and Entertainment Pathway.
  • Cross-curricular: This unit is an excellent opportunity for collaboration between the English-Language Arts, History-Social Science and Visual and Performing Arts teachers, as the lessons, like life, are not isolated to one subject at a time.

Handouts & Resources

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Individual Lessons

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