Part of the ELA curriculum at both my previous school and current school include the integration of ERWC units. The Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum, developed by the Cal States, focuses on engaging students in the reading and writing of Expository texts. The belief is that most students will not major in English and should enter college with skills to handle the close reading of informational text, which is also a focus of the Common Core standards. I think most English teachers understand the need to teach these skills, but often find some of the ERWC units disengaging or tedious. One of the problems I have found with the units is the fact that a unit focuses on one expository article, and the Common Core standards and CAASP performance tasks tend to focus on the reading and synthesizing of multiple sources. Therefore, I like to add to the ERWC units to help my students think more critically about the topics raised in the expository articles. I then add elements that foster student creativity, which makes the unit relevant and engaging.
ERWC Unit: “How Self-fulfilling Stereotypes Can Drag Down Performance”
Before I dive into my To Kill a Mockingbird unit, I teach the ERWC unit about self-fulfilling stereotypes. It’s a great “into” unit.
In Lit Circles, students use the QFT (question formulation technique) strategy to create open ended questions about the subject of stereotypes. If you have never heard of this strategy, check out the book Make Just One Change and the website. The Lit Circles decide on their favorite question and this becomes their focus for close reading and annotating the sources I provide.
Students read and annotate the sources I provide, which are linked on my Haiku page. If the source is a web site, my students use the Diigo extension to annotate and then they submit their annotated links via a Google form.
Students complete a graphic organizer that I share via a Google Drawing to synthesize their sources. Their goal is to find an answer to the question they developed via the QFT strategy. I teach students the SEE-THINK-WONDER strategy at the beginning of the year to annotate paintings/images. This strategy is from the book Making Thinking Visible. It’s an awesome resource!
Students use Google Drawing to create an Infographic in their Lit Circles that displays their question, answer, and evidence from multiple sources. They also must do outside research to find additional evidence to support their answers.