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Unit plan

TGC Unit Plan: Writing for an oppressed writer

Five lesson plans in this unit

I did this project for the first time at the end of 2012-13 with my AP English Literature and Composition students. I kept pretty much the same plan for 2013-14, but started it at the beginning of the year, so students have a chance to receive responses and see the effects of their work. I  also had the students include my name in the return addresses to make sure any responses get to my mailbox for sharing.

Oppressed Writer project

It was a good thing I started the project early because the dates listed kept getting pushed back, mainly due to the time it took to assess students’ progress. I wanted to make sure students got feedback at each step (which still didn’t always work out because several students did not know how to access teacher annotations on Edmodo). I know I’ve posted before on time, but I want to emphasize again that meeting the rigor of the Common Core Standards is going to require more planning and assessment time than currently built into teacher schedules.

I also tried to provide more scaffolding for the students at the various stages. Here, for example, is a template for the project proposal memo. While students (with varying success) could look up memo formats online, there isn’t much available for the content and the necessary terseness of the business memo.

I also developed detailed grading scales (we used to call them “rubrics,” but now that our state-mandated evaluations are based on Marzano’s The Art and Science of Teaching, I have to get used to new buzzwords) for the letters and the Web 2.0 presentation based on the Common Core State Standards (which are now, for us, the Florida Standards, leading to the acronym LAFS for those dealing with language arts–so another revision to these materials is in the works).

Here is the student reflection piece. My students completed these the day before spring break, so I haven’t had a chance to look through them yet. I will update this page then.

Among the shoulda-woulda-coulda’s: a link to how to address an international letter, information on postage for international letters (many students, too many students, pasted a domestic postage stamp on their international letters, and I can only assume they didn’t know there’s a difference, even though I told them; however, if there’s one universal aphorism for teaching, it’s “Telling Them Is Futile”), a list of addresses for U. S. embassies, a flowchart and RAFTS lesson for the three letters (because I still had a few students write to the government oppressing the writer to ask for help in contacting said writer).

In spite of it all, quite a few students did a really great job. Here are some samples:

Prezi presentation on Vietnamese writing Nguyen Phong
Voicethread on Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu
Letter of appeal to Vietnam on behalf of Nguyen Phong
Letter attempting to contact Nguyen Phong
Letter to media organization about Nguyen Phong’s plight

Don’t just believe my reflection. Here are snippets from students’ post-project reflections: Highlights from student reflections on the Oppressed Writer Project



One Comment
  1. Love all the threads in this unit plan: collaboration, research writing, writing for the world of work, awareness of global issues, theme of Human Rights, activism, social consciousness, critical thinking, media literacy, discussion.

    Thank you.

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