Submission Date


Document Type




Second Department


Faculty Mentor

Rebecca Jaroff

Second Faculty Mentor

John Spencer


Presented during the 18th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 22, 2016 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

My project utilizes the concept of Understanding by Design, as outlined by education experts Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins, to craft a 12-week curriculum for high school junior and senior English students. McTighe and Wiggins use backwards planning to create long-term learning goals for students. Rather than superficially trying to cover a wide range of material in class, which results in short-term acquisition of knowledge mostly forgotten in the long run, McTighe and Wiggins focus on “big ideas,” that generate conceptual understanding. Ultimately, students will be able to transfer this knowledge to settings outside of the classroom. To help them arrive at the understandings specific to my project, the class will be driven by these essential questions: “How do I know if I am a critical reader?,” “How do we know what to believe?,” “What does it mean to be a good citizen? Is there only one way?,” “What is ‘equality’ and to what extent does it exist in America?,” “What are my responsibilities to people outside my family and those close to me?,” and “Does our modern society mirror the fictional societies in 1984 and Fahrenheit 451?” The class will discuss these questions throughout the course as we look at excerpts from texts and speeches made by Frederick Douglass, Thomas Jefferson, the women at Seneca Falls, Lyndon B. Johnson, Malcolm X, and more. I hope to act as a coach for the students by facilitating meaningful discussions and activities that foster civic engagement and increased awareness of responsible citizenship in a democracy.

Open Access

Available to all.