Resources

Teaching the
English/Language Arts Unit

The English/Language Arts Unit can be taught in a two-week time frame or spread out over a number of weeks if it is necessary to teach the all of the mini-lessons. Teachers and librarians may teach all of the lessons or only ones that are required to meet each of the competencies.

Introduction

An author does not write in isolation. S/he is influenced by the time in which s/he is living, the issues that are pressing, and the people with whom s/he interacts. In order to understand an author's point of view, it is helpful to understand the influences upon the author's life. A literary work will give insight into those influences allow the reader a window into the world as it was seen by an author. To be meaningful to a student, that literary work needs to transcend the historical and be seen in the context of today's world.

The Task

Students will, individually or in pairs, choose an author and piece of literature that speaks to a social issue. They will compare and contrast the issue from the time period in which the author was writing to the present day. They will then invite the author or a character from the original work to a dinner hosted by a person in today’s society. This could be a politician or a person who has been a spokesperson for that issue, i.e. Al Gore and the environment. They will research the issue in both time periods and will present their findings in a dialogue between the two that shows an understanding of the issue. (See attached examples)
All products will have properly documented MLA citation

The Process

Before the unit is taught the teacher and librarian should administer a skills assessment such as Trails or Sails.

Mini-lessons on the skills required to complete this unit are based on the modeling and guided practice section of the unit. However, if a teacher prefers to spread out the lessons over a longer period of time, other topics may be chosen that would fit into the topic being studied at that time.

It is recommended that copies of the Search Strategy sheets be included each time a research project is begun. These will help to focus a student's thoughts and provide a checklist as s/he works through the process.

Depending on the length of the class period and the skills of the students, the mini-lessons can range from a couple of class periods to perhaps a week's instruction.