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Rationale

For our unit, we drew from a large variety of approaches to teaching that was discussed in class: To begin, our unit was structured following the backward design method. Meaning that reading schedules were created, assignments outlined, and tests were prepared prior to the lesson plans being put together. This is to ensure that we know what our expectations are of our students and what we hope for them to learn. We incorporated critical theory by having students look at the text through the lenses of Marxist and Feminist theory. We also made sure to have student engage with material in a deeper way by having them respond to higher order thinking questions that are to bring about critical thinking. The questions need to be able to challenge students thinking and knowledge so that students can be challenged to grow. This allows for students to expand their knowledge and understanding of the text and materials in class and helps students learn to make deeper inquiries into everyday ideas and situations. By approaching texts and questions through different lenses, students learn about using and operating through different perspectives that may not be their own. This is useful for real life when they need to be able to put their own thoughts aside in order to view things in another light. In order to make the unit a valuable experience for students, we set up a transactional lesson function in the classroom so that students are able to learn from the teacher and their peers and so that they will be able to give back to the knowledge and to contribute in their own unique way. Since life outside the classroom will, generally, be full of instances where knowledge becomes a dialectically constructed concept, we feel that it is important that students be given a more authentic learning experience by allowing them to contribute to the knowledge in the classroom, rather than having them be mere absorbers of the information they hear. As we do not know what kinds of jobs the future holds for our students, it is better to teach them the tools to ask solid questions and how to pursue knowledge, rather than to teach them facts that may become unimportant to them in the future.

Additionally, to make the classroom even more engaging, we aimed to make our lesson multimodal so that we could have our students learning about multiliteracy. By teaching students how to analyze literature, visual aids, and digitalized visuals (websites, videos, movies, etc.), students learn how to engage with knowledge in a multidimensional way. By changing up the materials that students engage with, we hoped to further engage students through constant mental stimulation in different ways so as to keep the learning interesting. When teaching students how to engage with literature, we make sure that students take on different roles when reading. We want for them to be able to see what they are learning as a reader, what the text is intentionally trying to tell them, and what the purpose of the text is. Because students may likely be passive readers, it is important to teach them to ask questions and to engage with the text as they read. They need to realize that there are multiple ways to approach a text. They can either be a code breaker (looking at the significance and symbols in a text), a text participant (learning from the text), a text user (incorporating the information into

their worldview so as to learn how to use the new knowledge), or a text analyst (learning about how the text is intended to be read by its audience). Furthermore, in-class writing assignments were given (such as poetry, and reflective pieces) to encourage students to engage with the text in different ways. With independent reading tasks for homework, and in class writing students are given the responsibility of completing the work on their own, meaning that they are also engaging in self-regulated learning. Students are free to read more and think critically about the text in their free time or even seek out other sources of information about the text online. By giving students these tools, it is believed that they will learn to become, not only actively engaged with texts, but, also, with the world around them. We do not want our students to remain passive and under stimulated. We want for them to want to ask questions. The methods used in our lessons are structured so that this can hopefully become a reality. With these tools, students can apply them authentically to the world around them so that they can analyze the news and the media through different lenses, become more socially aware, take action, and engage in ethics and social justice. In order to really strengthen these practices, we started the unit by penalizing our students for not having their homework done. This idea was taken from the Not Reading article by William Broz. If students come to class unprepared, they are not offered the chance to discuss the answers to chapter questions (the during and post-reading questions) with their peers. Due to the fact that the chapter questions are not purely knowledge and understanding questions, students who are unprepared for class would miss out on the subjective and abstract responses to the critical thinking questions. As well, those students who did not complete the homework would not benefit as much from the in-class discussions and activities involving the novel and other texts. It is hoped that the students who start off the unit unprepared will begin to want to come prepared so that they can join in on the activities with their fellow classmates and benefit more from the classes and raise their grades. This method is only implemented for the first two weeks of the unit so as to teach students about being accountable for themselves and to themselves and others. The latter half of the unit ensures that students are fully incorporated in the discussions, whether they have their readings done or not. It is hoped that, by this point, the students who were not coming prepared have learned to keep up with the academic workload. It is important to us that our classroom is an active and cooperative learning environment where all students can share and participate in class activities.