My new tenth grade class starts the first week of February and, as we have in the past, the class will spend the semester investigating the following inquiry questions: Where does intolerance come from? How can we build a more accepting society?
All of the texts we read during reader’s workshop and full class studies will provide them with a place to discover answers to these questions. A Separate Peace will show them that sometimes the enemy is within. To Kill a Mocking bird will teach them not to fear the unknown and to empathize with others. We will also do other short stories, poems and essays that will help them on their search. The end result will be a multi-genre project that illustrates what the students have learned about the roots of intolerance, and their suggestions for how to plant acceptance and kindness in the world instead.
We will begin by creating a class code of conduct for discussions, so everyone in the room will feel comfortable sharing their views and experiences. Then, the students will work through a series of reflections and discussions that will hopefully lead them to a new understanding of why we treat others as we do. The posters will be part of the reflections that the students do. I will use them as a powerpoint for writing prompts, and after we discuss the students’ responses, the poster will go on the wall.