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Stand Up, Speak Out, Live Real

Key Question: What will you stand up for and speak


out against?
OVERVIEW:
Life isnt fair. Sometimes factors beyond our control land us in
circumstances that we dont like, but feel powerless to change. How do
we handle these sorts of circumstances to make positive short- and
long-term positive changes in our lives as well as make the world
around us a better place to life?
The aim of this thematic short story unit looks at how life may be
unfair but how students can be agents of positive change, even when it
seems the world is against them. It also aims to help students
understand how even the smallest changes and acts of kindness can
affect you as well as others. Throughout the unit, students will consider
what causes they will choose champion to live their own authentic
lives.
Society may be unfair but each individual has a choice as to how
he or she will respond to any unfairness they encounter.
Short stories:
The short stories that will be covered in this unit are:
The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier
Higher Ground by Beverley Brenna
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
Thank You, Maam by Langston Hughes
Cipher in the Snow by Jean Mizer
Every one of the above stories deals with some type of injustice.
How do the characters act as a result? What is the motivation for their

action? And, are their actions and choices positive and/or negative?
These are the questions that students will explore throughout the unit
The unit explores all six language arts:
Reading:
Students read short stories.
Writing:
Students respond to writing prompts from the book Mysteries
of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg.
Students create a script for their Battle of the Books that
explores the theme, character, setting, conflict, and plot for their
assigned title.
Students create their own short story with a theme of
overcoming adversity. This short story serves as a summative
assessment for this unit.
Speaking:
Students volunteer to read the short stories aloud.
Students share the information from their poster slam that
examines one of the five elements of a short story. This activity follows
the reading of the first short story, and students are assigned an
element to explore for that particular work.
Students individually volunteer to share their quick-writes with
the class.
Students present in a group for the entire class their title in the
Battle of the Books.
Listening:

Students listen to an audio recording to The Tell-Tale Heart,


which is an accommodation for readers who need assistance.
Students listen as volunteer readers read the other titles aloud.
Students also respectfully listen to others during class
discussion.
Viewing:
The Sweater animated short is used in the classroom to
accommodate readers who need assistance, but all students will view
the short.
Videos throughout the lesson require students attention.
Students view others posters, including those from the Battle
of theBooks and Poster Slam!
Representing:
As part of the Battle of the Books activity, groups of students
present a representation of an element from the titles they are
defending. Students may present the information in the form of a song,
poster, tableaux or skit.
Students create a poster as part of their Battle of the Books
activity that outlines the theme, character, setting, conflict, and plot
for their assigned title. The posters are displayed around the classroom
to keep the stories fresh in students minds prior to their final unit test.
Students conclude the unit with a TEDTalk video: Write Your
Story, Change History by Brad Meltzer. The idea that youth is wasted
on the young? Wrong. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the creators of
Superman were all under 30 when they wrote themselves into history.
In this inspirational TEDYouth 2011 Talk, Brad Meltzer encourages us to
dream big, work hard, and stay humble.

The video viewing is followed up with small group discussions


where they consider the question: In your lifetime, what will you
choose to stand up and speak out against? Group reporter shares
findings with the class.
There are three summative assignments in this unit. At the
beginning of class for two weeks, students respond to writing prompts
from the book Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. Each
Friday, students choose their best work of the week for summative
assessment. The two quick-writes make up 10% of the students unit
grade. A final summative short-story terms test makes up 40% of
students unit grade and is written on the final day of the unit.
Students write a short story that features the theme of change. The
story makes up 50% of the students unit grade.

RATIONALE:
Students in both Grade 8 classes wrapped up a novel study of a
Warriors book by Erin Hunter. Themes in this novel include social
justice and breaking the cycle of violence.
This short story unit challenges students to make positive
changes not only in their lives, but in the world around them. Students
examine short stories with big messages about how to be a hero in
The Hockey Sweater and she-ro Higher Ground. In Thank You,
Maam, students learn that society can be unfair, but the individual
has the opportunity to create his or her own dignity and freedom. This
story also explores the power of love and trust against the backdrop of
poverty. Tell-Tale Heart asks students to self reflect on their
motivations for change. There are no winners in Cipher in the Snow,
due to exclusion and isolation. However, the story delivers a powerful
message that we should take the time to tell people that they are
amazing and are loved and can amount to so much, before we lose
those people to deathor worse.

The major summative assignment in this unit asks students to


write a short story related to issues encountered in texts and in their
own life (2.4.1). The story contains main and minor characters (2.4.3),
who successfully overcome a problem or issue that involves a cause
and effect relationship (3.3.1).
The unit test sees students expand their knowledge of language
through the learning of short story terms (4.1). Note: A full list of terms
appears in the introductory learning activities section.

RESOURCES/MATERIALS:
Alberta Learning. Curriculum Standards Branch. (2000). Illustrative
Examples for
English Language Arts, Kindergarten to Grade 9.
Always #likeagirl video https://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=XjJQBjWYDTs
Best template maker for plot chart:
http://templatescollect.com/plot-chart-template.html
Beverley Brenna. Great FAQ about writing.
http://www.beverleybrenna.com/about.html
Biname, C. (Director). (2005). The Rocket [Online video]. Canada:
Alliance Atlantis
Vivafilm. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=rt0EP8-_WxY
(view clip from 1:43:13 to 1:54:50)

Carrier, R. (Writer). Cohen, S. (Director). (1980). The Sweater [Online


video].
Canada: National Film Board. Retrieved from
https://www.nfb.ca/film/sweater/ and
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZyDsF-Gp3o
Donawa, W., & Fowler, L. C. (2013). Reading Canada: teaching
Canadian fiction in
secondary schools (First ed.). Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford
University
Press.
Five Things (Elements of a Short Story) [Online video]. Flocabulary.
Retrieved from
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6I24S72Jps
Iveson, M. L. (Ed.). (1993). What a Story!: Unit Guide (p. A48).
Scarborough, Canada:
Prentice Hall Canada
Langston Hughes: Academy of American Poets
http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/langston-hughes
Paper cube template:
http://www.firstpalette.com/tool_box/printables/cube.pdf
Pearson Education. (1999). SightLines 8. In I. Cox & . (Eds.), Project
Editor and
Anthologist. Scarborough, Canada: Prentice Hall Canada.
Poe Biography: http://www.biography.com/people/edgar-allan-poe9443160
Richard Riot: Historical Website of the Montreal Canadiens
http://ourhistory.canadiens.com/greatest-moment/The-RichardRiot
TEDEd talks: Hero: A lesson from a volunteer firefighter
http://ed.ted.com/featured/KHIzatLv
Write your story, change history
http://ed.ted.com/series/everyone-has-a-story
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. Read by John Doyle.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcYnfESHPIQ

Tompkins, G. E., Bright, R. M., & Windsor, P. J. (2015). Language Arts


Content and
Teaching Strategies (Sixth ed.). Toronto, Canada: Pearson.
Van Allsburg, C. (1984). The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Boston, MA:
Houghton
Mifflin Company.

OBJECTIVES/GOALS:
The reading of the five short stories, and accompanying videos,
such as The Sweater, helps students experience various texts (2.2).
Discussion and activities that follow see students identify and describe

characters attributes and motivations, using evidence from the text


and personal experiences (2.2.7).
Each story opens with a mini lesson about the author. Real
People Wrote This Story helps students make connections between
biographical information about authors, illustrators, storytellers and
filmmakers and their texts (2.2.5).
Students start each class in Weeks 2 and 3 with a 10-minute
freewrite (just write, dont worry about spelling or grammar) following
a picture prompt from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick book. On
Friday, students hand in their best one from the week for summative
assessment by the teacher. The teacher also uses the quick writes as a
formative guide to gain insight into students writing abilities leading
up to the short story assignment..
2.4 Create original text: Generate ideas
The short story assignment helps students:
2.4.1 Create a short story related to issues encountered in texts and in
own life.
2.4.3 Create a short story with both main and minor characters.
3.3.1 Organize ideas creatively in a short story to develop a cause and
effect relationship.
4.2.2 Create a short story with figurative language, and varied
sentence patterns.
The unit test that summatively assesses students knowledge of
short story terms helps students:
4.1 Enhance and Improve: Expand Knowledge of Language through the
learning of

short story terms. Note: A full list of terms appears in the


assessment section
of this unit.
When the students present their work, they not only share ideas
and information (3.4) and attentively watch and listen (4.3), they also
respect others and strengthen community (5.1). Students are
occasionally required to work within a group (5.2).

LEARNING ACTIVITIES AND INSTRUCTIONAL


STRATEGIES:
Introductory
Students first exposure to this unit comes in the form of a
question: What will you stand up for and speak out against? Each
week, students examine a different question that relates to the stories
themes. At the opening of the week, students write their personal
response to the question and, when the week comes to a close, reflect
and change their responses, based on the story themes that were
explored. Week 1: Can anger be used as a form for positive change?
(The Hockey Sweater and Higher Ground) Week 2 and 3: Do small acts
of kindness create big changes in the world? After the reading of the
final short story, students respond to the Thomas King quote: Stories
are wonderful things but they are dangerous Dont say in the years
to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had
heard this story. Youve heard it now. Students then reflect on the
lessons they learned over the course of this unit and answer the
question of what will they stand up and speak out against.
On the first day of the unit, students also learn the titles that will
be explored, as well as the major summative assignments that they
will complete.
Developmental/On-Going:
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT: Students are required to learn
the following terms during this short story unit. Learning and review
happens throughout the unit in the form of mini lessons, the poster
slam, and class discussion about the short stories following the
teachers directed questions.
The list of terms is as follows:

Short story
characters
protagonist
antagonist
neutral characters
setting
time span
atmosphere or mood
theme
conflict
internal conflict
external conflicts
point of view
first person point of view
third person point of view
omniscient point of view
plot
introduction
initial incident
rising action
climax
outcome
denouement
prose techniques such as foreshadowing, flashback, and symbolism.
A review sheet with complete definitions appears in the assessment
section of this unit.
4.1 Enhance and Improve: Expand Knowledge of Language
through the learning of short story terms.

POSTER SLAM! (formative): After the reading of The Hockey


Sweater, students pick one of the five posters around the room that
features one element of a short story: setting, plot, characters, conflict,
theme. Students write points from the story that was just read that
pertain to this particular element. . Students get three minutes to
complete the poster. Each group presents to the class from the poster
they are at.
GLO 1 Students will speak, read, write, view and represent to
explore thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences.

SLO 1.2 Clarify and Extend: Combine Ideas exchange ideas


and opinions to clarify understanding and to broaden personal
perspectives.
SLO 2.2.3 Distinguish theme from topic or main idea in oral, print
and other media texts.
REAL PEOPLE WROTE THIS STORY: Drawing inspiration from
Chapter 7 on p. 203 of Reading Canada: Teaching Canadian Fiction in
Secondary Schools by Wendy Donawa and Leah C. Fowler, each short
story is introduced to the class by meeting the author who penned the
piece. The hope is that students see that real people, not much
different than themselves, write great short stories, and that they will
feel confident writing their own short stories, and begin to see
themselves as writers, or at least budding writers.
SLO 2.2.4 Students will explain connections between own
interpretation and information in texts and infer how texts will
influence others.
SLO 2.2.6 Students will interpret the choices and motives of
characters portrayed in oral, print and other media texts, and
examine how they relate to self and others.
SLO 2.2.7 Students will identify and describe characters
attributes and motivations, using evidence from the text and
personal experiences.
THE MYSTERIES OF HARRIS BURDICK FREEWRITE (formative
and summative): Students will start each class in Weeks 2 and 3with
a 10-minute freewrite (just write, dont worry about spelling or
grammar) following a picture prompt from The Mysteries of Harris
Burdick book. On Friday, students hand in their best one from the
week for review by the teacher. The two freewrites act as a minor

summative assessment, and formatively help the teacher gain insight


into students writing abilities leading up to the short story assignment.
GLO 2.4 Create original text: Generate ideas
EXIT SLIPS (formative): At the end of each week, students write on
Post-It Notes their names, and a list of two things they learned about
short stories they learned that week. The teacher collects the slips for
formative assessment and to inform future teaching.
Culminating:
BATTLE OF THE BOOKS (formative): Students will defend in groups
no larger than three members their title to the class in a Canada Reads
format. Students must highlight the five elements of their short story
(plot, setting, characters, theme, and conflict) as well point of view,
and, if applicable, instances of foreshadowing, symbolism and
flashbacks. Students also had to include a representation in their titles
defence in the form of a poster, song, short skit, or tableaux.
SLO 1.2 Clarify and Extend: Combine Ideas exchange ideas
and opinions to clarify understanding and to broaden personal
perspectives.
SLO 2.2.3 Distinguish theme from topic or main idea in oral, print
and other media texts.
SLO 2.2.4 Students will explain connections between own
interpretation and information in texts and infer how texts will
influence others.
SLO 2.2.6 Students will interpret the choices and motives of
characters portrayed in oral, print and other media texts, and
examine how they relate to self and others.
SLO 2.2.7 Students will identify and describe characters
attributes and motivations, using evidence from the text and
personal experiences.

THIS IS HOW WE ROLL STORY CUBES (formative): As a review,


prior to the short story unit test, the teacher will use an online paper
cube template (such as is found at
http://www.korthalsaltes.com/gif1/cube.gif) and write the five elements
of the short story on each side, and a title of a story from those that
were considered in class. Students will pair up, roll the cube, and
practice explaining to their partner what the element of the short story
is that they roll. Students will switch partners and cubes several times.
GLO 1 Students will speak, read, write, view and represent to
explore thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences.
SLO 1.1 Discover and Explore, Express ideas and develop
understanding. Review, reread and reflect on oral, print and
other media texts to explore, confirm or revise understanding.
UNIT TEST (summative): Students write a unit test that explores all
five short stories and asks students to define the terms covered
throughout the unit. The test appears in the assessment section of this
unit.
SLO 2.2.3 Distinguish theme from topic or main idea in oral, print
and other media texts.
4.1 Enhance and Improve: Expand Knowledge of Language
through the learning of short story terms. Note: A full list of
terms appears in the assessment section of this unit.
SHORT STORY ABOUT BIG CHANGE SUMMATIVE ASSIGNMENT:
Students will create a short story with the theme of standing up and
speaking out against a social injustice. The story will be inspired by
issues encountered in texts and in own life (2.4.1), and feature both
main and minor characters (2.4.3). There will be a cause and effect
relationship (3.3.1) within the plot. The story will employ figurative

language, and varying voice and sentence patterns (4.2.2). A rubric


appears in the assessment section of this unit.
2.4.1 Students will create a short story related to issues
encountered in texts and in own life.
2.4.3 Students will create short story with both main and minor
characters.
3.3.1 Students will organize ideas creatively in a short story to
develop a cause and effect relationship.
4.2.2 Students will create a short story with figurative language,
voice, and sentence patterns.

EXTENSION ENRICHMENT/SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS/


DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION
There is a wide variety of learners in my classrooms. One
differentiated strategy is to use a variety of methods to read short
stories, including watching an animated short of The Hockey
Sweater, listening to an audiobook of The Tell-Tale Heart and readaloud volunteers.
The short story assignment featured three ways for students to
get their stories started. Students who found the plot diagram
overwhelming could start with a story spine that consists of a series of

sentence beginnings that help them complete their story outline. A


copy can be found in the assessment section of this unit. Stronger
writers could plan their stories with prompts as found in the
assessment section of this unit.
An entire class prior the unit test was dedicated to reviewing the
material. Review happened individually in the form of a bingo as well
as in groups in the form of story cubes. Students who found the
material a challenge could buddy up with a fellow student to orally
review the elements of each short story. Study guides were provided to
all students so struggling writers, who may copy incorrect information
from the SMARTBoard, could prepare for the test with the correct
definitions at hand.

ANCHOR ACTIVITY:
STORY SOUNDTRACK: If students complete their short story before
the deadline, with the teachers approval, students will create a
musical soundtrack to accompany the short story they write. This song
may represent any aspect of their story: character, setting, plot,
etc. Students will provide a rationale for their choice of song.
GLO 3 Students will speak, read, write, view and represent to
manage ideas and information
SLO 3.4 Share and Review: Share Ideas and Information integrate appropriate visual, print and/or other media to inform
and engage the audience.

CONNECTIONS TO OTHER AREAS OF CURRICULUM


AND/OR OTHER LANGUAGE UNITS
ICT Outcomes, Division III
C.1 Students will access, use and communication information from a
variety of technologies.

Specific outcomes:
3.6 Communicate in a persuasive and engaging manner, through
appropriate forms, such as speeches, letters, reports and multimedia
presentations, applying information technologies for content, audience
and purpose.
If student participate in anchor activity, also add 3.4 Access and
retrieve information through the electronic network.
F.3 Students will demonstrate a moral and ethical approach to the
use of technology.
Specific outcome:
3.6 Model and assume personal responsibility for ethical behaviour and
attitudes and acceptable use of information technologies and sources
in local and global contexts.
P.1 Students will compose, revise and edit text.
Specific outcomes:
3.1 Design a document, using style sheets and with attention to page
layout.
3.3 Revise text documents based on feedback from others.
Social Studies
Social studies provides opportunities for students to develop the
attitudes, skills and knowledge that will enable them to become
engaged, active, informed and responsible citizens. This unit works will
with helping students recognize and respect individual and collective
identity, which is essential in a pluralistic and democratic society.
In Grade 8, the Program of Study expands on the concept of
intercultural contact and continues to develop historical thinking skills
through an examination of past societies in different parts of the world.
The lessons on Point of View, unreliable first-person narrators and
retelling of events from a different perspective will help students use
critical lenses to analyze historical accounts.

Historical Worldviews Examined:


8.1 From Isolation to Adaptation: Japan
8.2 Origins of a Western Worldview: Renaissance Europe
8.3 Worldviews in Conflict: The Spanish and the Aztecs
Other Language Units
Following this short story unit, students will be involved in an
independent novel study. The knowledge gained concerning
terminology, skills acquired in examining character motivation and
identifying theme, and attitudes acquired while experiencing different
texts will benefit students.