This unit was created by the IPA Multilingual Maestras team as part of the 2022 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately four weeks.
Students will be able to:
- Recognize the feelings and perspectives of others.
- Understand how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning and beauty of a text [e.g. song, book, story, graphic novel, film].
- Write an opinion piece supported with evidence.
- Write an expository piece that reflects a cause they believe in.
- Identify the characteristics of a narrative and create a narrative that reflects their knowledge of a historical or current figure of African descent.
The themes addressed by this unit include SILENCE and GENIUS.
- How can silence oppress others?
- How can we use our voices to break silence?
- What is genius?
- How has genius been demonstrated throughout history by Black and Brown people?
- How am I a genius?
Students will practice the skills of summarizing, predicting, developing opinion and expository pieces, locating evidence in literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection and research, as well as analysis of visual and multimedia elements for their contribution to the beauty of a text. The pedagogical vision of this unit is for students and instructional staff to both construct knowledge regarding how we can use our voices to address ways in which people are marginalized through silence. Moreover, we seek to develop a deep understanding of genius, where it has been found in history, and how we can find it in ourselves.
Week 1 – Focus on the book Born on the Water (Reading Skills: Predicting, Summarizing, Vocabulary, Image Analysis; SEL: Perspectives of Others)
Weeks 2/3/4 – Analysis of Supplemental/Layered Texts (Finding Evidence, Developing an Argument, Writing Expository Texts, Creating Presentations)
By the end of the unit, students write an opinion essay and expository essay to reflect their analyses. They research and present on the stories of figures of African descent. They also create original narratives to present the story of a figure they researched and reflect on how storytelling can combat silence and amplify genius.
Weeks 1-2 :
Students will apply their analyses of the books Born on the Water and Stamped to an opinion essay responding to the following prompt: Do you think ideas about race have changed since the 1400s? Why or why not?
- Opinion Writing Planner [.pdf]
Students will then use the texts above, and analysis of additional texts, to explore how different figures throughout history have responded to challenges that result from unfair practices and policies. They will reflect their analysis of the texts by writing an expository essay responding to the following prompt:
What is a cause or belief for which you would be willing to take a risk? Describe or explain this cause and its importance.
Weeks 3-4:Considering the proud genius of Black Americans conveyed in Born on the Water, as well as the talents demonstrated by figures in STAMPED For Kids and other texts, students will explore the stories of Black and Brown individuals from the historical and modern eras who have demonstrated genius in the areas of science, the arts, literature, and/or public service. Then, working in teams, they will select two individuals to research. Once they have completed their research, groups will utilize their analysis of genius in the texts explored throughout the unit to an analysis of how the figure they researched also demonstrates genius.
Students will develop a presentation that compares the genius of one historical or current figure in history to the genius they see in themselves. They will then write original narratives about a figure they researched that reflect details from that person’s story and how that person demonstrated genius.
Formative: Working bibliography, Biography note-taking document, Co-created Genius Criteria Checklist, Compare/Contrast Graphic Organizer
Narrative Rubric [.pdf]
Seven lessons implemented over four weeks that include pacing, texts, teaching materials, and multimedia resources. Download below, or scroll down to review key resources included in the unit plan.
|Resources from The 1619 Project||The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith
Aug. 30, 1800: story by Barry Jenkins for The 1619 Project from The New York Times Magazine
Optional: “Pecan Pioneer” by Tiya Miles for The 1619 Project from The New York Times Magazine
|Additional focus texts||Lowell History: Atlases, Maps, and Plans from the University of Massachusetts Lowell library (1845 map)
TIMELINES of Lowell History: History of Lowell, Massachusetts from The History of Massachusetts Blog or Timeline from The Lowell Historical Society
Lowell Massachusetts Archives - Lost New Englan
Picture of Merrimack Street in 1856 is on this website from the National Parks Service:
|Videos||“The School That Tried to End Racism” from Channel 4 Entertainment.
PBS KIDS Talk About Race, Racism & Identity
Video “What is Racism?” from Sesame Street
Largest slave revolt in U.S. history lives on in reenactment from PBS Newshour(10 min)
Black Seminoles and the Largest Slave Revolt in U.S. History from Learn Liberty (10 min)
How Do You Know If You’re A Genius? from Life Noggin
Video: “Take 5: Parent Preview of Cultivating Genius and Joy with Dr. Gholdy Muhammad” from the Glenbard Parent Series
|Teaching Materials||Day 1 Quick Write [.pdf][.docx]
Form - Possible sentences strategy
Form - Student Reflection [.pdf]
Born on the Water - Summarizing Note Catcher [.pdf][.docx]
Day 4 Quick Write: Born on the Water [.pdf][.docx]
Opinion Writing Planner [.pdf]
Plan to combat unfair rules [.pdf][.docx]
Internet Research Tools
Digital Screen to view videos
Plan to combat unfair rules [.pdf][.docx]
Week 2, day 2 reflection Quick Write [.pdf] [.docx]
Two-column organizer [.pdf]
Collaborative Summary Slides [.pptx]
Consequences of Standing Up Collaborative slides [.pptx]
Expository Template 1 [.pdf]
Expository Template Planner [.pdf]
Expository Template 2 [.pdf]
List 1 of possible figures to research [.pdf][.docx]
List 2 of possible figures to research [.pdf][.docx]
Student Group Organizer [.pptx]
Note-taking document (for individual research) [.pdf]
Research Planning Document [.pdf]
Venn Diagram Graphic Organizer [.pptx]
Compare and Contrast Chart (for partnership)
Week 3, day 2 quick write [.pdf][.docx]
Investigating Genius document [.pdf][.docx]
Quick write for week 3, day 3 [.pdf][.docx]
Research Presentation template [.pptx]
Final presentation Rubric [.pdf]
Characteristics of Narratives [.pdf]
Narrative Four-Square Organizer [.pdf][.docx]
Constructive Comments Tip Sheet [.pdf]
Peer Conference Form [.pdf]
Narrative Rubric [.pdf]
Illinois Social-Emotional Learning Standards:
- IL SEL 2A: Recognize the feelings and perspectives of others
Common Core Standards:
Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).
Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.
The following examples capture engagement by fifth grade students in Champaign, IL who engaged in this unit in winter 2023.
1. Students start the unit by reviewing videos “The School That Tried to End Racism” from Channel 4 Entertainment and "PBS KIDS Talk About Race, Racism & Identity", and using the "possible sentences" strategy to discuss their experiences learning about race. They then analyze the chapter, "Talking about race" from the book STAMPED for Kids by By Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds, Adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul, Illustrated by Rachelle Baker, and begin to reflect on the ways that "silence" can lead to marginalization of stories and experiences. Students synthesize their analysis of these videos and texts by responding in writing to the following prompt: How are you part of writing “the next chapter?”
2. After reviewing a second chapter from Stamped from the Beginning, students engage in a close analysis of the book Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith. Students use graphic organizers to summarize both texts, and then ultimately apply their analysis of both texts by writing a response to the following question: "Why should Black Americans be proud of their story?”
tudents conclude their initial analyses of Stamped from the Beginning and Born on the Water by writing short opinion essays responding to the prompt, "Do you think ideas about race have changed since the 1400s? Why or why not? "
4. In the unit's second week, students begin investigating the term "genius" through extensive research about Black Americans throughout history who have made significant contributions to policy, art, activism, science, literature, and more. Students analyze texts individually, in pairs, and as a class. The following are examples from students' research:
- Students conduct research independently and then use Venn diagrams to compare and contrast their research and ultimately evaluate different traits that reflect genius
- Students' summarize research about Gabriel Prosser
5. By the end of the unit, students use a slideshow template to reflect what they have learned about the traits that reflect genius through their research. They also create original narratives inspired by their research: