Text Sets for Teachers: Prejudice: Is It Something We Can Control?


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Prejudice: Is It Something We Can Control?
Text Set for Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
created by Brenna Conrad

I will be working with an 11A class studying British Literature. In class, we will be reading Frankenstein and Pride and Prejudice. At first, I had a lot of difficulty finding a theme that would be applicable not only to both texts but also to two sets of students who get to choose which book they want to read. I chose to focus my unit on the concept of prejudice and if it is something that we can control. In Frankenstein, prejudice is visible when everyone rejects the monster based on its appearance. In Pride and Prejudice, it is inherent in how the classes are divided and how characters treat one another. I chose this overarching theme because I think that this idea of prejudice is a very prominent issue in today’s society and should be considered and discussed in an educational setting. I want students to be able to not only get a more complex and complete understanding of what prejudice is and how it is prevalent in society but also to understand that there are many subtle ways it is incorporated into the media and texts. This is important for students to be aware of, especially as technology and media is becoming increasingly more influential as time progresses.

With this goal in mind, I constructed my text set with illustrating prejudices not only in as many forms of media as possible but in as many different time periods as possible. I want students to place these books among many other works that display the dangers and horrors of prejudice. Though I tried to incorporate multiple sources from different time periods to plot prejudice through time, I narrowed my focus to current media that my students have witnessed in their lifetime, allowing them to personally connect with these sources. Prejudice is one of the most prevalent issues in today’s society, and I think creating an awareness about how prejudice is incorporated into our society in multiple forms of media is very important for learners.

Anchor Texts (although other texts may be used!):
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice

Children’s Books
The Sneeches by Dr. Seuss (Also available on YouTube)

Young Adult Texts
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (YA pairing to Frankenstein)
this dark endeavor
Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg (YA pairing to Pride and Prejudice)
prom and prejudice

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (with Kenneth Branagh and Robert Di Niro)
Pride & Prejudice (with Kiera Knightly)
Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth)

The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman
Othello by William Shakespeare

Images Used as Propaganda for Protest Movements
Gay Rights:
3.25.2015Prior to WWIJune 2015 Gay Rights MovementJune 2015 Anti-Gay Rights Movement

3.25.2015 Prior to WWI June 2015 Gay Rights June 2015 Anti-Gay Rights

Women’s Suffrage:


Civil Rights:
1960sAnti-Civil RightsBlack Lives Matter MovementBlack Lives Matter MovementCounter to Black Lives Matter Movement

1960s Anti-Civil Rights Black Lives Matter1 black lives matter white lives matter

News Articles
Transgender Student Seeks Acceptance as She Runs for Homecoming Queen
BBC News: The Girl Who Was Shot for Going to School
Girls who Code aim to Make Waves in a Man’s World
Seeking Self-Esteem Through Surgery

“I, Too” by Langston Hughes
“Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou
“Beautiful City” by Alfred Tennyson
“Discrimination” by Kenneth Rexroth
“Breaking Prejudice” by Daniel Tabone

“Teenage Frankenstein” by Alice Cooper
“Same Love” by Macklemore
“Blackbird” by The Beatles
“Chains” by Usher

Gap in Yearly Earnings
Race of Prisoners

Gilbert and Gubar: “The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination”

TV Shows/YouTube Clips
Family Guy: African American Prejudice
Family Guy: Asian Prejudice
Family Guy: Mexican Prejudice
Family GuyItalian Prejudice
Family Guy: Muslim Prejudice
Family GuyChristian Prejudice
Social Mobility with Legos

Guiding Questions

  • What is prejudice?
  • How is prejudice seen in today’s society? Has this changed in comparison to the past?
  • How does society portray prejudice? How do we speak back to prejudice?
  • Are there prejudices that we are unaware of, but still possess? How do we know? What can we do about it?
  • Do people live in fear of prejudice? What do they do to avoid it?
  • Are prejudice and racism the same thing?
  • What different types of prejudice are there? Do some levels of prejudice feel stronger or more impactful than others? How might ranking levels of prejudice be problematic?
  • Can we eradicate prejudice or is it a reality of human nature?

Writing Prompts

  • How many different forms of prejudice are there? Are they all prejudice?
  • Make a list of things you’ve seen in the media that promote a prejudice society. Consider media such as television commercials, shows, movies, songs, magazines, or even comics. Pick 5 media that you believe are the most detrimental and briefly explain why.
  • After reading Frankenstein or Pride and Prejudice, has your concept of prejudice changed?
  • Choose a group that has been historically marginalized—either one that we talked about in class or a different group—and examine how the prejudice against this group has shifted across years.
  • Do you believe that it is human nature to be prejudice or that it is something society has taught. Write an argument for the side that you believe in. Be sure to include example from class and at least two credible outside sources.
  • In a journal entry, discuss prejudice in our society. Consider: Do people use prejudice in a way to benefit themselves? How do we as a society associate prejudice and humor? Is that ok? Are we making progress away from prejudice? Why or why not?

A special thanks to Brenna for this phenomenal text set! We think this text set would be useful for many anchor texts! What do you think?

RickiSigandKellee Signature

Text Sets for Teachers: What is a Hero?: Exploring the Concept of a Hero


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What is a Hero?: Exploring the Concept of a Hero
Text Set for The Odyseey by Homer
created by Lara Hawley

The theme of What is a Hero? can be explored from many different viewpoints. Students might look at how society portrays a hero and what expectations we, as members of this society, have. This can cause individuals to examine the ethnicity, gender, and culture of modern day heroes. Forcing them to decide whether or not society’s idea of a hero aligns with their own personal definitions of a hero. The question of What is a Hero?, allows students to make associations to their own lives. They can describe people they know and defend whether or not they fit these conceptions of heroes. It prompts the students to question their original impressions of a hero.

The unit and theme will be investigated through the lens of the novel The Odyssey. This text is complex and often difficult for young students to engage in. It incorporates challenging language, but my hope is that through this theme, students will become more interested in the characters and the storyline. The additional video clips, charts, and other resources will help the class make sense of the book.

As I was generating my Text Set, I tried to include resources that would spark interesting conversations in the classroom. For example, I included the “Pep Talk from Kid President” to force my students to look at themselves as heroes. I also incorporated the “7 Types of Heroes” so the students could broaden their idea of what a hero is and compare different types of heroes. I hope that students will rethink the characters of the Odyssey during this unit and decide whether or not they should be considered heroes.

Anchor Texts (although other texts may be used!):
The Odyssey by Homer

Graphic Novel
shadow hero
The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

Books (Excerpts)
Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thompson
Be a Changemaker

“What is a Hero?”
Freedom Writers Clip (Everyone is a Hero)
“For the Heroes: A Pep Talk from Kid President”
Les Miserables Clip (Selfless/Forgiveness)
Caitlyn Jenner Speech

Star Wars
The Dark Knight Rises

we can do it
helping wheelchair

“The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Lord Tennyson
“A Hero” by Robert William

Short Stories”
“Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes
“Initiation” by Sylvia Plath
“Cranes” by Hwang Sunwon

“Kill Your Heroes” by AWOLNATION
“We Could Be Heroes” by Alesso

PowerPoint (Teacher Created/Shared)
“Superhero PowerPoint”

Internet Sources
The Hero’s Journey
Five Qualities of Incredibly Heroic Leaders
7 Types of Heroes
Dictionary Definition
Hero Quotes

News Articles
What is a Hero?
CNN Heroes

Guiding Questions

  • What is a hero?
  • What makes someone a hero?
  • Do you have to be perfect to be a hero or can heroes make mistakes?
  • Can you be a hero because of one heroic act?
  • Are there different types of heroes?
  • Is heroism an innate or learned quality?

Writing Prompts

  • How are you a hero?
  • Who is your hero and why?
  • Make a list of top ten qualities of a hero–from most important (1) to least important (10).
  • Which of the characters in the Odyssey is the most heroic?

A special thanks to Lara for this phenomenal text set! We think this text set would be useful for many anchor texts! What do you think?

RickiSigandKellee Signature

Text Sets for Teachers: Growing Pains: Looking at the Subject of Coming of Age


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Growing Pains: Looking at the Subject of Coming of Age
Text Set for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
created by Andrew Johnson

We must all grow up order to fully enter the world as an adult. In some cultures, growing up is a rite of passage. In others, it is a series of events—a gradual process. Everyone grows up in different ways and is influenced by the different circumstances and environments. There is no one singular point in people’s lives when they can decidedly say that they came of age. It simply just happens. It comes to pass through the experiences that change who they are and what they value as individuals. Growing up not only changes how we think about others, but it also changes how we think about our own identities and places in society.

With that said, this text set is immensely important for exposing students to how others manage to grow up and progress through their lives. Students in middle and high school want nothing more than to be older. They want to be grown, even though a part of them also wants to secretly stay young forever. They may have been told at some point in their lives by a parent, teacher, or other adult to “grow up,” but do they really know what this means? How do they know? This text set will take a multicultural, multi-faceted view on the process of growing up in a world that can be strange, harsh, and also very, very enjoyable.

Anchor Text (although other texts may be used!):
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
curious incident of the dog in the night-time

Graphic Novel
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
american born chinese

Other Texts
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Little prince

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (excerpts) by Stephen Chbosky
perks of being a wallflower

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
house on mango street

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (excerpts) by Mark Twain
tom sawyer

The Body by Stephen King (novella)
the body

“If” by Rudyard Kipling
“Lightspeed” by Grieves
“In My Life” by The Beatles
“Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost

Short Stories
“Lost in the Funhouse” by John Barth (excerpt)
“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut

“Manhood for Amateurs” by Michael Chabon

Wizard of Oz (part of a prior unit)
Mean Girls
Rain Man (clips/part of introduction to ASD)
Stand By Me (adaptation of Stephen King’s The Body)

TV Shows
Boy Meets World (any and all applicable clips)
Girl Meets World (any and all applicable clips)

Articles/Internet Sources
The Teenage Brain by National Geographic
Should Growing Up in Compton be Considered a Disability VICE
Kids are Growing up Way Too Fast – Manhattan Institute
The Definition of Disability by Deborah Kaplan
Talking About Disability – A Guide to Using Appropriate Language
13 Amazing Coming of Age Traditions from Around the World

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (in order to understand the anchor text better)
Autism Speaks (in order to understand the anchor text better)
Simply Psychology (Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development)

Guiding Questions

  • What does being a child mean? What does being an adult mean?
  • Why can the path between childhood and adulthood be confusing or challenging?
  • Do we ever stop “growing up”?
  • Does our environment affect how we “grow up”?
  • Is “growing up” always a good thing? What makes it desirable?
  • Who or what pressures us to “grow up”? Who or what pressures us to stay young?
  • Is maturity synonymous with age?

Writing Topics

  • Describe someone who you consider to be “grown up” or “mature”? List their attributes.
  • Which stage(s) of identity development would you consider yourself to be in?
  • Design one scenario/question to determine if someone is mature or not. What would you look for in the answer?
  • After reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Do you think that Christopher has “grown up”? What do you think he has learned?
  • Compare and contrast Christopher’s journey and possible “coming of age” with another character of your choosing (or maybe even you!).
  • What are we supposed to learn about ourselves after you’ve grown up? What do you hope to learn about yourself after you’ve grown up?

A special thanks to Andrew for this relevant, engaging text set! We think it would fit in with a variety of age levels and class texts. What do you think?

RickiSigandKellee Signature

Text Sets for Teachers: 7 Days of Teachable Ideas!


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Over the course of the next seven days (excluding Saturday and Monday), we will be shaking things up at Unleashing Readers. We are excited to feature seven incredible text sets created by seven phenomenal pre-service teachers. These teachers are remarkably creative and clever, and their text sets were chosen to be featured on our site because we thought their ideas would be useful to you.

Each day we will feature a different theme with a different anchor text. We are hoping that you can either use their ideas or adjust the text set to fit your needs. The themes of these text sets apply to a wide variety of texts that teachers use each day in their classrooms. Additionally, the anchor texts are popular. We believe that an important part of teaching is sharing with others. We hope you enjoy their hard work!

The Text Sets

Wednesday, December 16
Growing Pains: Looking at the Subject of Coming of Age by Andrew Johnson
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Anchor Text)

Thursday, December 17
What is a Hero?: Exploring the Concept of the Hero by Lara Hawley
The Odyssey by Homer (Anchor Text)

Friday, December 18
Prejudice: Is It Something We Can Control? by Brenna Conrad
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Anchor Text)

Sunday, December 20
The Power of Words: Witnessing the Impact of Words by Kelly Markle
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Anchor Text)

Tuesday, December 22
Finding the Line: Defining What is “Good” by Alexandria Bottelsen
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Anchor Text)

Wednesday, December 23
Good vs. Evil: Exploring Morality Through the Holocaust by Kellie-Anne Crane
Night by Elie Wiesel (Anchor Text)

Thursday, December 24
Gender’s Lens: Society’s Views and Expressions of Gender by Jack Dunn
Everyday by David Levithan (Anchor Text)

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Civil Rights Text Set/Reading Ladder


Civil Rights Text Set Ladder

Over the last few months, I have found myself reading some phenomenal texts concerning the Civil Rights movement. I began thinking about how beneficial these texts would be in a classroom setting to help students develop a deeper understanding of the time. The Civil Rights Movement is not just a part of history, it is relevant to current events and pertinent to our students’ lives. Today, I wanted to share with you these connections I’ve made, and I hope that together, we can foster conversations about this important time period.

I picture these texts being used in a couple of different ways.

  • They can be used for a text set for a Civil Rights unit in a social studies or English language arts classroom. This is more of an informal route.
  • They could be used as literature circle texts or in a jig saw (see Ricki’s post on engaging discussions last week for more info on jig saw). Each group might have a different text to read, discuss, and analyze. This would make for a great sharing environment.
  • Teachers might intentionally introduce the texts by the age level they are marketed toward. Read-alouds would provide opportunities for rich discussions about the ways that audience plays a role in complex themes and background knowledge of these texts.

I have organized this list kind of as a reading ladder. (If you don’t know what a reading ladder is, I recommend that you start by reading this book by Teri Lesesne and then visit her collaborative resource database to join in the love of ladders. She also shares slides about reading ladders here). Reading ladders are fantastic because they respond to student reading level needs. As they challenge themselves with increasingly complex texts, they remain on a ladder that uses a common theme, format, or genre to connect the books. This idea is much more complex and is detailed in her book. The ladder I’m sharing is connected with the Civil Rights theme, and based on my evaluation of the texts, I tried to generate a ladder for teachers to use. The ultimate goal of reading ladders is to help students move up texts independently and based on their interests, so some of my whole-classroom ideas above do not fit the goal of ladders.

Picture Books (for grades 3-12)

martin's big sit-in boycott blues SeparateisNever freedom summer seeds of freedom henry aaron

Middle Grade

watsons go to one crazy the lions of little rock brown girl revolution

Young Adult

silence of our friends call me x lieswetell

Click on the book title of any book to view one of our reviews or the Goodreads summary.

You can’t go wrong with these incredible texts, and I recommend all of them for both you and your students!

I know there are many other great books about this topic that I haven’t read. What other titles would you include in a Civil Rights Text Set/Reading Ladder? 


Teachers Write Sunday Check-In 7/7/13


Teachers Write

Teachers Write! is an online virtual summer writing camp for teachers and librarians who understand how important it is for people teaching writing to walk the walk.

My plans for Teachers Write: 

This summer, my friend Jennifer Fountain and I are working on writing a proposal for a education professional book about teaching struggling readers which is our passion. Our goal this summer is to finish the cover letter, the expanded outline, and a couple of sample chapters so that by the end of the summer we can present our proposal.

My summer writing recap so far: 

So far so good! However, does anyone else find that the summer is going so quickly! This is also my first summer trying to have a reading and writing goal and it is so hard to keep up with both of them. Also, when your reading is research, it goes much slower than reading for pleasure or even for review or a committee. Also, launching a new blog really eats into both!

Writing a proposal is a lot more work than I even imagined. The biggest challenge for us has been putting onto paper what we already understand in our brains. When writing the proposal, you have to remember that the editor or publisher reading it may not know certain things about education and you have to explain it. You can’t just say book pass or other terms; you have to explain them.

I’ve also found out that I really like the idea of co-authoring. I am truly enjoying working with Jenn. It is so nice to have someone to talk to about decisions, have someone to read your work, and someone to bounce ideas off of.  I also think that she keeps me on track which means I should be writing right now…


How is writing going for all of my Teachers Writes friends? Do you find it hard to keep up with writing and reading? How do you balance the two?

Happy writing!