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August 28, 2017

PBS’ Time for School: #WhyIGo2School Lesson Plan

Subject(s)

English, history, government

Estimated Time:

Three to five 45-minute classes, depending on how many videos you watch

Grade Level

7-12

Objective

Do all children deserve the right to an education? What would the world look like if every child had a chance to go to school?

For 12 years, PBS followed six school children from six different countries in the documentary series “TIME FOR SCHOOL.” After watching these short segments, students will learn about multiple factors that may affect a young person’s ability to go to school throughout the world. Upon reflection, students will then write a short personal essay that they may upload to Instagram along with a picture that helps communicate their own experiences going to school. 

Procedure

  1. Day 1: Before watching the segments
    1. Writing activity
      1. Purpose: While students are well into the routine of the school year, it’s a good time of year to step back to examine the purpose of school and why we educate young people. From Kindergarten through 12th grade, U.S. students spend 13 years of their lives in school — that’s about 2,340 days. It’s quite an investment. Let’s look at why we do it.
      2. Write the following questions or prompts on the board. Lead a discussion on students’ responses with the class or ask them to share their responses with their neighbor.
        1. Why do you think some children have more challenges than others when it comes to going to school?
        2. What are some organizations or individuals that are responsible for making sure all students receive a quality education?
        3. Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year old Pakistani student who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her work in helping girls go to school, said “Education is peace.” What do you think she meant?
      3. Geography activity (optional):
        1. Google Maps are a great way to get a sense of geography. Type in the name of the city or region where the film takes place. You may choose “street view” to explore what the area looks like or click on Google images, providing you’ve previewed them. Click on the minus (-) symbol, allowing the map to zoom out. Ask students if they recognize any key geographical features, i.e. a body of water. Zoom out again. Ask them what cities are close by.
  2. Day 2-3: Watching the segments
    1. A second or third class period may be spent watching the videos and responding to the WRITTEN RESPONSE HANDOUT.
    2. Let students know that they will be filling out the WRITTEN RESPONSE HANDOUT after they watch the videos (this way their focus may just be on the video itself). However, you may wish to ask students to make a T chart “What I Notice”/”My Questions” that they may fill out while they are watching the video. The handout contains short-answer questions and long-response questions. 
      1. After the video, ask students to work with a partner responding to the short-answer questions on the Written Response handout.
      2. Have students work individually on the long-response questions or complete them for homework.
      3. Note: Each segment is about eight-minutes long. Although it’s ideal to watch all of the segments, given time constraints, students may still write an essay based on two or three of the videos.
  3. Day 3-4: The personal essay
    1. Activity 1: Connecting stories – the power of the personal essay
      1. What is a personal essay?
        1. Explain to students that they will be writing a brief personal essay in response to one or more of the long-response questions from the Written Response Handout. Ask students to define the meaning of a personal essay, and inquire if they have previously written a personal essay. Explain that a personal essay is a fairly short piece of writing that describes how an experience helped them understand themselves in some way.
        2. Read at least two of the PBS’ STUDENT VOICE’S articles and discuss with students what they noticed about the student’s writing. How did the story allow the student to share his/her voice with the reader? How did the piece connect the student’s life to another person’s story? What do you think the author took away from his/her experience at the end of the piece?
      2. Brainstorm ideas:
        1. Students should include examples of going to school from the “Time for School” series with stories from their own life. Encourage students to speak with you if they have a different question they’d like to write about. Students may address more than one question from the handout in their essay as long as their main idea is clear.
        2. Hold a brainstorming session and ask students to write down examples in which they think about turning points in their school life. Who or what helped students see school in a new way–for better or for worse?
      3. Writing tips:
        1. A personal essay does not need all the formality of an analytical or expository essay. Remind students they are appealing to the reader in hopes of sharing a school-related experience that changed them in some way. And since they have been a student for many years, it is indeed an area in which they have some expertise.
        2. Different perspectives:
          1. Ask students why it might be important in a narrative piece of writing to include other voices in addition to their own. Discuss the importance of empathy and stepping into another person’s shoes and how including examples from multiple perspectives often strengthens a piece of writing.
          2. Be sure the students include specific voices from the “Time for School” series along with their own experiences as a student. Here is a chance to include personal anecdotes from the brainstorming session above.
        3. Length may vary but remind students personal essays tend to not be too lengthy. It might be a good idea for students to refer back to the PBS’ STUDENT VOICE’S page, for examples of mentor texts, including THIS ONE or THIS ONE. The idea is to make the audience think and to allow students to share their reactions to an experience they had.
        4. Conclusion: At the end of the student’s piece, students should ask themselves, “What’s the lasting idea that I want to leave with my audience? What is it I would like my audience to know about me?” Remind students to reference one of the examples to support their main idea from the “Time for School” series.
  4. Sharing on NewsHour Extra’s Instagram
    1. Have students share their personal essay or an excerpt or even their favorite quote along with a picture via the smartphone app Instagram. (Note: the world limit for Instagram is 2200 words) The picture doesn’t have to be of the student necessarily, but should help describes their feelings or experiences of what school means to them. Be sure to tag NewsHour Extra’s Instagram account (@newshourextra) in the post and use #WhyIGo2School.
      1. Students should practice providing feedback in person and using social media by giving thoughtful, positive feedback to each other’s posts. You may wish to have a few students read their pieces out loud and give feedback in pairs. Some questions to keep in mind:
        1. What’s the main idea that you came away with after reading this piece? What can you take with you from the piece going forward in life as a student? After reading the essay, what are some thoughts about what goes on in a student’s life inside of school? Can you think about how outside events in a student’s life could influence what goes on inside school?
  5. You are also encouraged to submit students’ essays to NewsHour Extra’s “Student Voice” blog by emailing NEWSHOUREXTRA@GMAIL.COM. Some may be chosen for publication on our website.

Additonal Resources:


by Victoria Pasquantonio, PBS NewsHour Education Editor, History Teacher – feedback on this lesson is welcome. Send to vpasquantonio-at-newshour-dot-org

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  • Standards

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    Relevant National Standards:
      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.3.A Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.3.A Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3.A Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.3.A Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation and its significance, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.

      CSSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.9-10.9 Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.11-12.9 Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

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