Students explore the American experience through the eyes of two young men - one white and one black - connected through an incident of police brutality.
This first 8th grade unit kicks off students’ year-long study of injustice and how people respond to forces of oppression. In this unit, students will explore issues of racial justice (and injustice) in the United States. The core text, All American Boys, is a 2015 novel written by two authors—one white and one Black—that tells the story of two teenage boys—one white and one Black. Their lives intersect unexpectedly when Quinn, who is white, watches as Rashad, a Black classmate, is beaten by a police officer outside a local convenience store. Quinn is suddenly forced to face the reality of racial injustice in his own community, while Rashad faces the harsh reality that the (white) world judges him primarily by his race. Both young men must grapple with how to respond to the event and the responsibility they have to stand up when injustice has occurred.
In addition to the core text, students will read diverse nonfiction texts, including a history of the Say Her Name movement, a TED Talk about growing up Black in America, and an excerpt from the United States Constitution. Throughout the unit, students will gain vocabulary and schema related to racial justice with the hope that they will come out better equipped to engage meaningfully with these issues in their own lives.
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Book: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely — HL770L
Article: “What is White Privilege, Really?” by Cory Collins (Teaching Tolerance)
Video: “A Conversation about Growing Up Black” by The New York Times (YouTube)
Video: “How to Raise a Black Son in America” by Clint Smith (TED Talk)
Website: Right to Peaceful Assembly: United States (Library of Congress)
Article: “The ‘Say Her Name’ Movement Started for a Reason: We Forget Black Women Killed by Police” by Precious Fondren (Teen Vogue)
Speech: “Why Black Lives Matter” by Alicia Garza (Open Transcripts)
Assessment Text: “My Father Died in Afghanistan, and I Support Colin Kaepernick” by Kelly Mchugh-Stewart
This assessment accompanies Unit 1 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
ally ambivalent amplify dehumanize disproportionate explicit implicit naive perceive radical synonymous
connotation colloquial language epigraph metaphor point of view/perspective structure theme thematic topic verbal irony
“What is White Privilege, Really?”
Define significant terms related to racial justice.
All American Boys pp. 1 – 23
Explain how specific events and lines of text in All American Boys reveal aspects of characters.
All American Boys pp. 24 – 40
Explain how specific events and lines of text in All American Boys reveal aspects of Quinn’s character and his perspective.
All American Boys pp. 43 – 60
“A Conversation about Growing Up Black”
Explain how racial bias shapes the way that characters in All American Boys—and people more generally—are viewed.
“How to Raise a Black Son in America”
Explain how Smith uses figurative language in his TED Talk to develop and support his central idea.
All American Boys pp. 61 – 93
Explain how authors Reynolds and Kiely use figurative language and word choice to provide insight into characters’ emotions.
All American Boys pp. 94 – 120
Explain how events and lines of text reveal characters’ perspectives of themselves and others in All American Boys.
All American Boys pp. 123 – 162
Explain the impact of Rashad’s assault on characters and their perspectives in All American Boys.
Plan and outline a free verse poem that explores fear, anger, or forgiveness.
Interpret an experience of fear, anger, or forgiveness through a free verse poem.
All American Boys pp. 165 – 185
Explain how events in All American Boys reveal and challenge characters’ racial biases.
All American Boys pp. 186 – 218 — (page break)
Identify and explain the ways that characters’ lives are shaped by race and racism in All American Boys.
All American Boys pp. 218 – 246 — (after break)
Explain how specific events in All American Boys reveal and/or change characters’ perspectives.
All American Boys pp. 249 – 282
Explain how Quinn makes the decision to attend the rally, and the impact of this decision in All American Boys.
Right to Peaceful Assembly
Determine the technical meaning of words using context clues and reference texts to develop an understanding of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
All American Boys pp. 269 – 296
Draw conclusions about Quinn and Rashad’s perspectives based on what they say and do in All American Boys.
All American Boys pp. 297 – 313
Describe the structure of All American Boys and explain how it contributes to the text’s meaning.
All American Boys — Whole Text
Determine themes in All American Boys and explain how they are developed over the course of the text.
“The ‘Say Her Name’ Movement Started for a Reason: We Forget Black Women Killed by Police”
Determine Precious Fondren’s purpose in her article. Clearly and succinctly present information about a Black woman killed by police.
“Why Black Lives Matter” — focus on paragraphs 1-35
Explain how writers use figurative language and structural choices to develop and support key ideas.
Engage in a Socratic Seminar with classmates, drawing from unit texts to support ideas.
Translate the expectations of the writing task and analyze a mentor text.
Outline a short story that explores the power of perspective.
Apply some of the storytelling strategies they studied in All American Boys to a narrative.
Compose a complete narrative and revise for transitions, mechanics, and organization.
“My Father Died in Afghanistan, and I Support Colin Kaepernick”