Back to School: Featured Lessons – Grades 9-12 ELA & Social Studies

However you might be kicking off the 2020 school year – in person, hybrid, or virtual – we thought we’d take a moment to highlight some relevant content for you. Check out some of our back to school lessons, as well as subject specific content!

Back to School

Back to School: High School

Grade(s): 9, 10, 11, 12

Subject(s): ELA

This Back to School unit helps high school students prepare for the new school year. Students complete activities to facilitate community, establish goals, and gain comfort among teachers and peers. Choose to either complete the whole unit or focused activities.

9-12 Social Studies Lessons

Hamilton! Arguing for the Ratification of the Constitution

Grade(s): 11, 12

Subject(s): ELA, Social Studies

In this activity, students hold a rap or a traditional debate about whether they should ratify the Constitution.

Inspired by the work of Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the musicals In the Heights and Hamilton, students read the Federalist Paper #1 and Anti-Federalist Paper #1, find quotations to support and argue against the main arguments, then engage in a debate about whether or not they should ratify the Constitution.

They have the option to rap their arguments over free hip hop beats, in colloquial style. Students learn about close reading, breaking difficult texts down, finding citations to support their points, and analyzing a text’s point of view.

Resilience Cafe

Grade(s): 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Subject(s): ELA, Social Studies

Students who struggle the most in the classroom are often forced to be resilient in their lives outside of the classroom. In the past, the struggles that they faced and overcame outside the walls of the classroom often remained separate and unrecognized.

The Resilience Café project brings those struggles from the outside into the classroom to be recognized and celebrated for the impact they have on students and the strength they build. The project seeks to connect stories of resilience from history with stories of resilience from our communities and our personal lives.

During Resilience Café, students learn about resilient heroes from the past and present. Many of these heroes are especially prominent in African American history, ranging from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement. Students explore together what it means to be resilient and the music, art, literature, and work that can be born out of resilience.

They identify specific attributes to celebrate and communicate. Students connect a resilient historical figure, a resilient community member and their own personal story of resilience through writing and spoken word poetry. They honor their resilient community members by inviting them to a night of celebration through spoken word performances.

Resilience Café teaches students about the following major concepts and content.
• Attributes of resilience
• Resilient figures through history, especially African American history
• How students and members of the community today show resilience

9-12 ELA Lessons

Who I’ll Be

Grade(s): 9, 10, 11, 12

Subject(s): ELA

In this activity, students will think about their future and map their five year goals. They will then create a graphic poster to represent their goals and their steps to achieving them. This is a particularly good activity to do with high school students as they discuss their future plans and goals. Students can revisit their goals and adjust them throughout the school year as they see fit.

To Kill A Mockingbird – Press Release

Grade(s): 9, 10, 11

Subject(s): ELA

In this project, students write press releases about an event in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The project leads students through how to write a press release and provides examples. In understanding an event and the points of view regarding an event, students reach a deeper understanding of the characters, the time, and most importantly, the author’s intent in choosing the events of the story.

Crime Scene Decoder – Whodunnit? Parallel Structure

Grade(s): 9, 10

Subject(s): ELA, Social Studies

Nothing like a good criminal investigation to liven up English class!

In a Crime Scene Decoder Skill Builder, students work to solve 10 problems that increase in difficulty focusing on specific language skills. After each answer, they will receive a clue. Similar to the popular reality TV show Whodunnit or the board game Clue, there will be a fictional theft of a famous manuscript. The goal is to determine the thief, the scene of the crime and the method.

In this Skill Builder, students practice identifying parallel structure using “The Gettysburg Address”.

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