All American Boys Unit
Created by Madison Webster
Author’s comments: I designed and taught this unit on All American Boys with my cooperating teacher, Jillian Harpster in an 11th grade English class in Lincoln, Nebraska. The students in this class had incredible racial, ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity. I strived to leverage students’ identities and lived experience for learning by structuring regular opportunities for for reflection and dialogue. One of the many threads in this unit, the research and dialogue about contemporary protest movements, was a sort of culmination moment of this effort. Students relied on their close reading of All American Boys, lived experience, research, and dialogue with one another to explore the question “Are protests an effective response to injustice?” It is important to note that students explored implicit bias, intersectionality, and identity in a mini-unit before beginning this unit.
Her professor, Lauren Gatti, had this to say about Madison’s work:
Madison’s unit on Jason Reynolds’s book, All American Boys, shows how one justice-oriented teacher actualized her commitments through what she taught and how she taught it. Madison created this unit for her semester-long practicum class, an 11th grade English class at North Star High School in Lincoln, Nebraska. (North Star is one of the most diverse schools in the city). Madison began this unit by having the class take a quiz on implicit bias (a quiz she, herself, took with her students) and facilitated discussions around the results. In the weeks that followed, Madison and her students read All American Boys through the lens of powerful essential questions, exploring definitions and conceptions of justice and considering what responsibilities witnesses to injustice have. She culminated the unit by having students research modern protest movements and then discuss those—and their connections to the novel—in a fishbowl.