Unit Introduction

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SWBAT engage in constructive controversy by arguing about evidence that matters

Big Idea

You're invited! Let's go on a journey to start Your Best Year Ever as classroom teachers! I am hoping that this unit will help us.

Unit Introduction Video

You're Invited! Help me tackle these design issues.

Let’s learn together! 

I am diving into this  school year, hoping to create the best year ever!  I am very blessed to have a pit crew from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the READi grant, and an awesome set of colleagues at my high school, Maine East in suburban Chicago.  And you!  


The design of learning.  

Even after 21 years of teaching, I am still learning so much about how our students learn and develop.  What about you?  How have you grown and learned from your teacher prep classes, years of experience, colleagues, and students?  

Let’s tackle some design problems in an opening unit focusing on controversy, a rich exchange of opinion and respect.  I’d love to get your feedback on any of the lesson design or how any of these ideas work in your classroom! 


The  theme for unit #1!

is Praise, Pressure, and Performance.  We think that this idea will motivate students and help them be a bit more reflective about how they receive feedback from teachers and classmates and how they give feedback, too!  Feedback is all around our students--in the classroom, hallways, athletic field, home, etc.--and navigating all of this information presents a key opportunity for young people who are carving out their lives. 


The menu in this unit (subject to your input!): 

 The day of high school! "This is Me in Grade 9!" - using humorous song lyrics to get us started talking and thinking.

Evidence and Explanation- analyzing the song a bit.

The Praise Paradox - starting to introduce the theme of praise, pressure and performance. This is an easy-ish non-fiction essay.

Summer Reading Assessment - a written diagnostic of summer reading PLUS a window to pre-assess how well the student write argument. 

Praise Paradox Cause/Effect -- Why praise is so interesting!  We will analyze cause and effect here.  Is praise always, sometimes or never good?

Inferring character motives in Vonnegut's short story, "The Kid Nobody Could Handle" -- Enter, a longer, difficult short story that is about a loner who just needs a little bit of encouragement and belief.  Like all of us?

Writing Argument "The Kid Nobody Could Handle" -- It's important to get some writing down in order to firm up our thoughts.  

"I Just Wanna Be Average": tracing the idea of persistence in a personal essay -- A looong, non-fiction essay, not for the faint of heart, but very challenging, writerly, and complex.  If you go this route, you'll be opting to challenge your students!

Questioning "Two Kinds" -- A well-known short story, but an uncommon approach using student-generated questions.  Fun.