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Cultural Studies Unit Plan
Danielle Y. Reese
Unit Description
Grade: 11th Grade English
The objective of this unit is to bring awareness to the power behind ones self-image. This unit will focus on themes that are central to the lives of all students. The unit will bring the ideals of Self Image that students deal with to the forefront of the unit. These themes will be implemented through discussion, poetry, interactive activities, and mainly through the reading of the novel The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. This unit will not only allow students to evaluate their own self-image but also understand the history behind the self-image and ridicule people of other races are forced to deal with.
The novel The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is very relevant to students of all races because the novel is centered on a young girl wanting to alter or completely change her appearance. Many students especially during adolescence would like to change something about their self-image. The novel explores self-image, and racial insecurities that African Americans women are forced to deal with as a result of the implications that were placed on blacks during slavery. Focusing on these issues will not only bring an understanding to these such issues but also help develop the students into critical thinkers who are aware of cultural setbacks that can be overcome. It will also allow other students who may not be African Americans to evaluate racial stigmas they are forced to deal with.
This unit is important because students’ everyday are forced to live with consequences of afflictions that were not caused by them. But focusing on ways to turn these issues into positive will help students analyze situations in and out of school. Racism is an act that is learned, and can also be passed down through societies biases towards a certain culture. This unit will allow students to be expressive on their opinions and ideals on this topic as well as topics that relate. Educating students on stereotypes, biases, and cultural differences can help to build a better community.
Unit Goals
Students will become aware of injustices/ inequalities that minorities face.
Students will be able to detect the difference between racial stereotypes and cultural differences.
Students will interpret what self-image means to them personally.
Students will identify the things they can do to prevent racism within their peer groups, and outside of their peer groups.
Students will use multiple means of technology to gain a full understanding on self-image/ racism.
Students will interpret the internal conflicts that all people feel along with the feelings of African American woman in the novel/throughout history.
Students will display their knowledge of self-image, and an understanding of African American culture through multiple in class and out of class assignments (journal entry, posters, letters, free write, poems, and papers).
The goals for student learning is to bring awareness to the injustices/inequalities that people of certain cultures are forced to endure. It also examines personal self-image issues that young adults often cope with alone. The ultimate goal of this unit is for students to learn to accept themselves and also become more contentious of all people around them, and the effect we all have on one another. Students will be able to examine different perspectives through the interactive activated they will participate in which will allow students to take on views, or people who come from different backgrounds. These activities will allow students to evaluate their own lives in comparison to the role they are to take on during the assignment. Students are able to further their views on the topics of self-image through the texts because even if they are not African American every person deals with personal insecurities, and struggles with feeling inadequate at some point in their lives.
The topic of racism, and self-image are both topics that are controversial since they force people to take a look at the way they interact, and behave with people of other races. But these are topics we must discuss if as teachers and students we hope for a better tomorrow.
Syllabus for 3 week Unit Plan:
Week 1:
All journal entries will be graded for a total of 10 points each.

Monday: The unit will begin with all students simply writing in their journals. They will be directed to define in their own words what self-image means along with answering the question: What are things they believe make a person beautiful?
(Although this may seem like a shallow question it holds much depth.) The students will have about 10 minutes to answer the questions.
Once the ten minutes has come to a close I will ask the students to share what they have written and I will tell them what the Webster-Merriam dictionary definition of self-image states which is the way you think about yourself and your abilities or appearance.
The next question I will pose will be: Why do you believe those attributes make a person beautiful? Is it because society/ the media tells you these attributes are acceptable and beautiful? The students will again have about 10 minutes to answer the question. Once they have answered the second question we will come together as a whole class and discuss some of their answers.
The discussion will be titled “How I See Me” This simple questionnaire should allow students to really see the bigger picture on the reasons they view beauty the way that they do.
Next, we will begin to discuss self-image and what it means to each person.
We will finally watch a short documentary that explores racism and self-image as discussed in the novel The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. This documentary was chosen because it gives a glimpse into society’s view of what is acceptable/ beautiful. The documentary also shares the history behind African American women’s struggle to feel acceptable in white society.
Dark Girls –
Tuesday: Finish the Documentary. Then we will start class with a discussion on what the students believed was valuable in the documentary.
1 page Journal entry on the topic: Where does this belief of white being more beautiful than other races come from?
The point of the journal entry is to get an understanding of what the students gathered from the documentary, and the class discussion.
Students will begin Reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Read: pg 1-57
Students will also be assigned to keep a journal over the novel. They should be completing an entry for their journals two days out of the week.
Students will get into groups of 3 or 4 and answer the question: How does it seem Pecola is treated? And how do you think this has affected her view of the world
Why does Pecola want to have blue eyes?
Once the students have answered these questions in their groups they will be asked to share their ideas with the class.
The students will be given an article to take home to read along with the reading of the novel.
Reading : pg 57- 110
Reading of the speech Aint I a woman by Sojourner Truth
This speech is used because it further explores the history behind racial tension, and white superiority through beauty:
Students will write a short journal entry on the connections between the speech and the novel.
Free write on any of the topics in the novel must be 2 pages in length.
Reading: pg 111- 150
On Mondays students typically need a quick recap from the week before so we will have a question from the reading to make sure they read.
Bellwork Question:
In The Bluest Eye, we see characters of colors of varying shades and several examples of racism within the African-American community. How do color differences affect these characters perceptions of themselves and each other?
Must be at least 10 sentences students will have 10 minutes to write.
Class discussion on the reading.
Then we will read the article:
The reason this article is read after the bell work question is because I want to tap into their background knowledge on the topic.

Reading: 150- end
Interactive Activity: Each student will receive a flashcard; the flashcards will have either a character name on it, or it will have a theme on it. Each student has to stand up and state two things: 1. Why is this character or person important?
2. What role do they believe the person or theme plays in the text?
3. Historical Context related to the character or theme should be explained.
Computer lab/ Library Day
Students will be asked to pick an article about self-image. Students will be asked to develop one major idea why they believe cultural differences are becoming more accepted but if they believe they are not develop an idea based on that belief. The idea students develop should include ways we can work together to change this negative view into a positive one.
Students will pick a passage from the assigned reading that stood out to them.
Writing Assignment:
-Describe what stood out in the writing.
-Explain something that they valued in the passage.
-Find a particular line or quote from one of the characters that either foreshadows or has a deeper meaning to another area in the texts.
Writing Assignment: Students will be writing a letter with the point of view of any character of their choice. For example, a student could write a letter from Pecola addressing Cholly explaining to him ways in which he treated her terrible.
Or the letter can address a personal issue they were forced to deal with because of circumstances that were beyond their control.
-They should completely embody the character in order to create a letter to someone else in the novel they feel they need to address.
The letter needs to examine an inner issue the character faced because of society or a person in the novel.
-Give the character power and authority they were not able to gain in the novel.
Presenting the Final Project: Guidelines for the Final Project
Must include:
5 page paper including one of the themes within the novel (students will need to bring in outside sources such as articles/speeches/ or any other forms of information on historical context within the texts)
A presentation poster which should display a theme or character from the novel.
Within the presentation there should be a resolution that ultimately helps the character and society overcome one of the themes in the novel that was an area that must improve society.
Last week:
DAY 1: create a web/ outline for paper ideas (must be turned in along with final project)
Begin Drafting final paper from the outline created on Monday.
Start research on information for final paper.
Start creating poster (will provide magazines and exerts with quotes for the posters)
The entire class period will be spent in the computer lab working on the final paper.
Friday: Presenting the project posters/ Turning in papers.
Each student will have from a 3 minute time frame to present posters.


Common Core Standards:


By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience's knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.