Take a Stand Against School Violence
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Overview
Grade Level: 9th & 10th
Course: Literature and Culture
Unit Length: Five weeks
The main objective of this unit is to bring awareness to the issue of school violence in our society. This is a topic that is not talked about enough in schools, and is an important issue that should be addressed in order to help students not only be aware of the issues, but to also do something about them. Many would say that we need to “protect” our students and “shelter” them from this type of information, but that is inaccurate. Teachers should not only talk about the subject of school violence, but should also provide a variety of resources to their students in order to hopefully end these life-ruining matters from happening. School violence is a huge concern in our society today, and is something we see examples of in the news more often than we should. There are so many ways a teacher could tackle this topic, one being a focus on school shootings in our history. This is the focus my students and I will be looking at, as well as resources for bullying, depression, and any other issues that may be of concern. For the main text, my students and I will be exploring a book by the name of Columbine by Dave Cullen. I chose this book due to the way it was written. The author wrote about the killers as humans, and not just as the cold hearted monsters who did such a horrific thing.

"Cullen makes it work because he insists on framing the killers in human terms . . . That's tricky ground for a writer to navigate, to ask, if not for understanding, for compassion for two boys regarded as monsters."
Los Angeles Times

My students will also look at other sources about Columbine such as: sections from She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall, which was written by Misty Bernall. As well as videos about Columbine, such as: the New York Times video “Haunted by Columbine” and the “Intro Video” by filmmaker Andrew Kemler, which is a trailer for the book written by Cullen. As a class we will look at the journal entries written by the killers and will have a survivor from Columbine visit our class to have a discussion with us.
I will also incorporate other school shootings that have happened more recently in America. We will look at articles about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the Virginia Tech shooting in Blacksburg, Virginia, and for the most recent mass shooting, the Umpqua Community College shooting in Roseburg, Oregon.

Goals
This lesson is about school violence, mainly focusing on the mass-shootings that have occurred in our schools over the years. By the end of the unit, my students will:
  • Be knowledgeable about school violence and the affects it has on our society
  • Be critical-thinkers when doing the readings and during class discussions
  • Analyze those involved in the tragedies
  • Compare the information they take from each of the mass-shootings we study
  • Engage in serious discussions about the tragedies and take part in friendly debates
  • Conduct research on other countries and school violence for comparison
  • Apply their knowledge to decide on plans to ensure these tragedies will cease
  • Become advocates for the community against school violence and advocate for those who need help

Standards
NCTE/IRA Standards
  • Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
  • Students whose first language is not English make use of their first language to develop competency in the English language arts and to develop understanding of content across the curriculum.
Common Core State Standards
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2
    Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3
    Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.3
    Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.7
    Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person's life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2
    Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.9
    Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.10
    Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1
    Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Materials or Resources Needed
  • Columbine by Dave Cullen (class set)
  • She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall by Misty Bernall
  • Class set of computers
  • Videos about Columbine
  • News articles about the shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and Umpqua Community College
  • Columbine survivor

Activities or Procedures

Day 1-5: Students will be introduced to the topic of school violence, and the focus on school shootings. Students will be asked to fill out a classroom KWL on what they know and want to know about school shootings, school violence and Columbine. The KWL will help for me to assess their background knowledge on the subject. This graphic organizer will be put up in the classroom for students to revisit during the unit plan. I will then introduce the students to the unit plan and the main book we will be reading for this unit, Columbine by Dave Cullen. Students will be expected to read the first half of the first chapter as homework.

Students will be broken up into small groups to discuss the reading homework and then will read the rest of chapter 1 together as a group. Students will all write in a journal about the first chapter, this helps them to arrange their thoughts for the class discussion. After students have a chance to write in their journals we will have a classroom discussion about the reading of chapter 1. Students will read half of chapter 2 for homework.

Students will again get into their small groups to discuss the first half of chapter 2 and to read the rest of the chapter together. They will write in their journals and we will have a class discussion. No homework.

Students will get into their small groups and will receive different news articles about columbine. The groups will discuss these articles and write down notes about how the media discussed the tragedy and the killers. We will have a class discussion on the topic. Students will discuss any comparisons between the chapters they have read so far and the articles. No homework.

Students will get into their small groups and read half of chapter 3. They will write in their journals to collect their thoughts and we will have a classroom discussion about the first half of the chapter. Students will be given a chance to ask questions and/or make comments about the book and about the unit plan. For homework students will be expected to read the rest of chapter 3.

Day 6-10: Students will get into their groups to discuss the rest of chapter 3 and they will add to their journal entries from the last class. We will have a class discussion about chapter 3. Students will then watch a New York Times video about Columbine, “Haunted by Columbine.” Students will write in their journals about the video. No homework.

There will be a class discussion about the Columbine video we watched before. Students will get into their groups and read the first half of chapter 4. They will write in their journals and have a discussion between their groups. The homework is to read the rest of chapter 4.

Students will get back into their groups and talk about chapter 4 as a whole. They will add to their journals and we will have a class discussion. Students will read half of chapter 5 in their groups. The homework is to finish chapter 5.

Students will write in their journals about chapter 5. Groups will get together and look at the end of the book (the timeline, notes, etc…) Student groups will discuss the book and write in their journals. We will have a classroom discussion about the book. Then we will discuss the visitor that will be coming on Monday. Homework is to think of appropriate questions to ask the visitor.

Students will get into their groups and talk about the questions they thought of as homework. We will have a class discussion about the questions and what is or isn’t appropriate. I will tell the class that if I talk to the visitor and they say it is alright to ask more personal questions then I will allow them to, but only if they approve. There is no homework other than to get ready for Monday.

Day 11-15: The visitor, a Columbine survivor will be coming to our class to have a discussion with the students about their experiences. Students will engage in questions and an in depth discussion with this visitor. The homework is to write in their journals about the visitor.

Students will get into their small groups and discuss the experience from yesterday, having the survivor come to visit our class. Students will share parts of their journal entries in their small groups. We will have a class discussion about the visitor’s presentation on Monday. Students will be introduced to the second book we will be looking at. Homework is to write a thank you card to the visitor from Monday and I will be sending them to her.

Small groups will be given a chapter to focus on from the book She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall by Misty Bernall. The groups will read that chapter and have a discussion. We will have a class discussion about the book. For homework students will write in their journals about the book and what they thought about it.

Students will be put into their small groups and each group will be given a different news article about a school shooting. One group will get an article about Virginia Tech, another about Sandy Hook, another about the shooting at Umpqua Community College, and so on. They will write in their journals about the article and we will have a class discussion. For homework I want students to think about the comparisons of the different school shootings.

Students will be put back into their small groups and will receive different journal entries, blog entries or notes and drawings, anything that is found from the shooters of the school tragedies. The group who had the news article about Virginia Tech will get the corresponding materials and so on. Students will look at these different things and discuss the shooters. What were their motives? What were they like? Etc… They will write in their journals about the shooters.

Day 16-20: Students will get back into their small groups to have a small discussion about what they learned about the shooters. Afterwards we will have a class discussion about the similarities and differences between the shooters from each of the school tragedies we are focusing on. For homework students will make a Venn diagram about the similarities and differences between the school shooters from at least 3 different shootings.

I will give students a chance to share the Venn diagrams they made for homework and we can have a class discussion and debate about our findings. Then we will have a discussion about the research they will be conducting for a final paper and presentation. I will schedule time for the computer teacher to come to our classroom and bring the class set of laptops. The computer teacher will discuss with students the right way to use the class laptops and the Internet. The computer teacher will also discuss research and how to do so on the laptops. They will talk about websites that are trustworthy to use and those to beware of. Students will sign out laptops for their use within the classroom. Afterwards we will have a class discussion about the research engines and the type of documents they should be using for their research. We will make a class list to put on the board for them to remember while researching.

Students will sign onto a blog website where they can have discussions with students from a different country. Students will talk about school violence in their countries in order to gain information about the similarities and differences. While students are having these discussions they will also be conducting research about the school violence and school shootings in other countries. Students will write down the things they are learning from their research and from the other students.

Students will continue their research and discussions and start on their research papers. Homework is to finish the rough draft of their paper.

Students will get into small groups and critique each other’s rough drafts. I will be going to each group to have individual meetings about the rough drafts to make sure they’re following expectations. For homework students will complete all of the edits to their rough draft and have it ready to type up on Monday.

Day 21-25: Students will type up their papers including a title page and a works cited page. I will be walking around to help in anyway that I can. I will be checking on any students who need extra help. Papers will be turned in by the end of the day. No homework (unless they didn’t finish typing up their papers).

Students will get into small presentation groups. I will explain to them that they will be doing a presentation for the class on school violence. The presentation can include the information they learned from the students in other countries and the research they conducted. The presentation is going to be “how to stop school violence.” The groups will have time now to discuss how they want to present, and who will be in charge of what. Homework: start working on a draft for the presentation.

Students will be watching a few videos about different school shootings and from different survivors. Students will write a little about the videos in their journal. Students will be given the rest of the time in their groups to look at the information they have collected and figure out how they will present. Students will have time to make their PowerPoint, or whatever else they plan to use.

First day of presentations: a little over half of the groups will present.

Second day of presentations: The rest of the groups will present. Then we will have a short discussion about the project and how students liked it. I will try to urge them to want to show their videos to their friends and families and the school. I want them to become advocates. I will share their videos on our classroom webpage.

Accommodation
My lessons will include Multiple Means of Representation, where I will be sure to verbally explain things to students as well as have visual supports. For example: my lesson may be on a PowerPoint, but will also be verbalized to the class. My students will be able to listen to reading, read on their own and in small groups. Students who have visual impairments will be given books on tape, if need be, as well as be equipped with large text articles and computers with options for large text. Any of the English Language Learners will be given books in their native language, if needed, and will have the option to receive closed captioning in their native language for the videos. The English Language Learners will be expected to work on their English skills, but will have the other accommodations as extra supports. Students who need extra time will be given it, and those who are not strong readers can be paired up with strong readers to help them.

Extensions
By the end of the unit, I hope that all of my students will want to become advocates for the issues we talk about. I want my students to be excited to teach their community about the issues of school violence, bullying and mental illnesses. By the end all of my students will have a paper about the topic, as well as a presentation that I hope they would like to share with people in our school and our community. My main goal is to turn my students into advocates for the community we live in. I will let students know that I am always here for any support they may need or resources to send them in the right direction. Whether that means a student who believes they have depression and needs advice on who to go to for help, or a group of students who have an idea to make a difference and need some direction.

Assessment
Students will take part in class discussions where they will be expected to build onto their peers’ ideas, as well as to explain their thoughts on particular questions and concerns. They will also conduct research and write a paper about school violence in America compared to other countries. Lastly, students will be put into small groups and will make a presentation to show the class. The presentation will be about how to end school violence and tragedies.Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 1.49.30 AM.png