In addition to the topic described below, this unit was designed to focus on developing student-voice within the classroom. The unit provides/scaffolds ample opportunities for students to develop their own voices in the context of authentic experiences (project-based learning).
This unit works to develop students’ understanding of the social issue of youth homelessness. The unit will utilize the novel Sketches, to address multiple issues associated with homelessness. Prior to beginning the novel students will discuss the prejudices and stereotypes they have towards homelessness, and reflect on why they hold those views. As reading the novel progresses students will examine how gender, sexual identity, and orientation intersect with issues surrounding the homeless. Students will consider factors (systematic, situational) causing homelessness, as well as resulting health issues (nutrition, sexual health) and crimes of circumstance (theft, squatting). They will engage in a critical analysis of policies and resources available/applicable to the homeless, including a student led interview with a civil servant (police officer, welfare agent, child & youth worker, human resource employee). They will conclude the unit by critically examining different organizations/initiatives for the homeless, which will culminate
in them individually altering or developing an initiative of their own design.
Note: The curriculum standards were chosen from Ontario Grade 8 curriculum but the lessons would work from grade 5 through grade 12.
Length of time to complete this unit varies depending on your schedule; it has been broken into 28 45-minute periods which can be combined as needed.