Our America Personal Narrative Lesson

Learning Segment Focus or “Big Idea”: Into lesson for Our America. Provide students with context for the book by understanding the adversities and challenges of living in the Ida B. Wells Projects in Chicago.

  • What do you want students to learn in this lesson? Students will learn: How the setting of the Ida B. Wells Housing Project in Chicago’s south side impacts the lives of Our America’s young authors.
  • What should students be able to do after the lesson? SWBAT Write a one-page narrative essay about their own neighborhood, enabling them to consider how their life experience compares to that of the Our America students before starting the book next week.

Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago is the personal narrative of teenagers LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman living in Chicago’s dilapidated housing projects. It was the outgrowth of the award-winning NPR program Ghetto Life 101. The assignment for my 9th grade students was to write about their own neighborhood, using vivid language to paint a picture of a day in their life. This lesson took place on day 3 of the unit, after students had listened to Ghetto Life 101 and studied the language used that painted a picture of LeAlan and Lloyd’s everyday life.

Here’s the flow of the lesson which took place over the course of 4 days:

Lesson 3:

  • Return Day 1 quick writes with comments for students to consider as they start to fill in their graphic organizers and write their personal narratives.
  • Have students pull out the descriptive language worksheets they were given earlier in the week.

Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 11.06.20 AM

Writing about Your America

  • Pass out “My Neighborhood” worksheet. Direct them to use descriptive words. SWABT brainstorm visual images they can use to write about their neighborhood.
  • Model under the document camera what I’m looking for on the worksheet by filling in things about the house I lived in when I was their age.
  • Have students spend 15 minutes completing the worksheet

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  • Pass out Graphic Organizer.
  • I do-we do: Write in my graphic organizer under the document camera, showing students the pictures and notes about my home/neighborhood from my own “Neighborhood Questionnaire.” Along the way, ask students for ideas about what to write in my organizer.
  • Model writing with descriptive language.
  • Students will then write in the same section in their own organizer (example: I start my intro; they work on their intro).

Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 11.04.40 AM

  • Once completed, students will begin to write their draft on Chromebooks in Google classroom using their graphic organizer. I will provide them feedback as they write in class.
  • See “Storytellers inside all of us.”
  • One thought on “Our America Personal Narrative Lesson

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