Searching for the American
Project URL: http://teachnet-lab.org/Goldman/Contents.htm
How it works:
Searching for the American Dream allows
students to learn critical thinking skills in a way that incorporates
various genres of literature pertaining to the immigration experience. Students read
relevant short stories, articles, and
poetry, and watch movie clips. Through the lessons, they are able to
understand that themes can carry across not only various readings, but
also various countries and time periods. A major focus of the unit is on
teaching students to understand ideas from other points of view by
engaging in the "believing game"-- an activity that enables them
to consider the issues of a character with different views from their
own. Students use the Web to access reading materials, publish their
original poems, and take an online poll to change the name
of the unit to suit their understanding of it.
Students use the general skills and
strategies, stylistic and rhetorical aspects, and the grammatical and
mechanical conventions of written compositions, and gather and use
information for research purposes. They utilize the reading process to understand and interpret a variety of literary and informational
texts. Additionally, they employ listening and speaking strategies to understand and
interpret visual media and the characteristics and components
of the media.
A computer with Internet access is required to download
stories and help students expand their ideas. Should the teacher decide to
create an online poetry anthology, then a basic web authoring program and
server space will be necessary.
The students involved in the project
are ninth graders from all over the borough of Queens in New York City.
They are a heterogeneous group based on skills and background. The class
is made up of about 34 students.
Searching for the American Dream is beneficial to students in many ways.
They use critical thinking skills to learn to read
in a more intellectual way, become aware of their biases, and use this
knowledge to see things from other points of view. Furthermore, students
learn about the difficulties of immigration. May of them can directly
relate to the stories. Use of the Internet allows them to further explore
the real-life stories of other people who have experienced similar tribulations
in their lives.
Many of the stories can be altered to
adapt to your class. Teachers should feel free to use some of their
own ideas for poems and stories that they may feel more comfortable with,
as long as the basic premise of the unit remains the same.
About the teacher:
Denise Goldman has been teaching English for five years. She is
a member of the New York City Writing Project and a recipient of an Impact
II grant. Denise received her Master's degree in English Education from
New York University in 1999. She teaches at the Academy of