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Driving Question: 

What are working conditions, and why do they matter?

Language Arts
Grade 7

Students explored the guiding question “What are working conditions and why do they matter?”. The performance task highlighted here is an anthology of slice of life stories written from the perspective of a laborer. The goal of each story was to allow consumer’s a glimpse into a laborer’s life so they will better understand the life experiences of a laborer and value them as a person. In addition, the stories highlighted the message that the products consumer’s use are only possible because of workers like them. Students built background knowledge throughout the unit of study through a variety of case studies. The case studies included the novel Lyddie, the documentary China Blue, an analysis of a speech by Cesar Chavez, and a variety of news articles.

While writing the stories students engaged in critique and revision through peer editing, comments through Google Docs, and audio feedback on the writing using Kaizena. Students who were interested formed a design team to create the cover image of each anthology. The podcast included with each anthology highlights music created by the students. Finally, the anthologies were published on the web with a site specifically developed for the project.

Student Products
  • Write an individual story from he perspective of a worker
  • Design a cover for the anthology
  • Create a class podcast
Teacher Reflection

"Looking back on the experience, two elements of the BIE Gold Standard helped to engage the students and improve the quality of the anthologies. First, student engagement increased when they understood the stories would be published in a variety of formats and places. (Public Product) Secondly, voice and choice was critical to meaningful engagement. Students had choice over the content of the story and how they were going to contribute to the development of the the larger project. (Website, Book, Podcast). These two elements provided intrinsic motivation for each class to create quality anthologies.

In the future, I would engage other curricular areas in the design and creation of the Letter in a Pocket project. For example, in the development of the covers, IBooks, layout art is a logical connection. In the creation of the podcast, working with the music department is a possible collaborative opportunity. Now that there are examples, having anchor and exemplar projects will be beneficial in the next iteration." - Scott Williams


Scott Williams