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Unit Topic: The Effects of Sociocultural Context on Writing and Reading

Concept(s): Culture, Voice, Influence Designed By: Madeline Bishop
Subject Area(s): English Grade Level(s): 10 th Grade
Overview of Unit:

The class is comprised of 20 students. It is an unleveled 9th grade English class. There are two
ELL students, one from Mexico and one from Haiti, and there is one student with an IEP for
ADHD. The school is of middle socioeconomic status, and the students are generally
motivated. Around 70% of the class is planning to go to college.

Throughout this unit, we will explore the concepts of impact and narrative voice by
examining the ways that sociocultural context influences the production and perception of
writing through the study of narrative nonfiction. This will give students a greater
understanding of the elements that go into creating a piece of writing and they will consider
what it means to think of authors as individuals.

We will also consider the social function of nonfiction narrative that gives readers a glimpse
into a culture they are not a part of. By examining the ways that writing is influenced by the
social context of its authors, students will begin to understand how their own lives are
shaped by the contexts in which they live, and the way every text they have ever read has
been shaped by its author. They will grapple with the different narratives of David Sedaris,
Sherman Alexie, Maya Angelou, and Amy Tan, and will see that the more we understand and
grapple with different perspectives, the better we understand each other and cultures other
than our own —pieces of writing reach much further than the last page.

This unit is important for 10th grade curriculum, and is particularly essential in adolescent
students’ lives, because as they begin to form their identities within their own sociocultural
contexts and create lives with peers who come from all different backgrounds, they will
need to understand that context impacts character, values, and identity. It will take place
toward the beginning of the semester, as we will be playing around with identifying tone
and theme in different types of writing and learning to consider the social contexts from
which our texts and authors come. This will build the foundation for students to analyze and
interpret texts throughout the rest of the school year. At this point, we have already
covered rhetorical devices, and are now moving towards a broader conception of texts
outside the bounds of the page.

S TAG E 1: U NI T G O AL S & O V E R V I E W

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Established Goals (VSOLs and/or CCSSs)

VSOL 10.4 The student will read, comprehend, and analyze literary texts of different
cultures and eras.
a) Identify main and supporting ideas.
c) Explain similarities and differences of techniques and literary forms represented in the
literature of different cultures and eras.
d) Analyze the cultural or social function of literature.
e) Identify universal themes prevalent in the literature of different cultures.
g) Explain the influence of historical context on the form, style, and point of view of a
literary text.
h) Evaluate how an author’s specific word choices, syntax, tone, and voice shape the
intended meaning of the text, achieve specific effects and support the author’s purpose.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including
figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word
choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place;
how it sets a formal or informal tone).

Unit Learning Goals (UKDs) & Essential Questions

Students will explore these ESSENTIAL
Students will Understand THAT…
EQ1. How do authors’ specific backgrounds
U1. A text and its author are functions of the influence the content and tone of their
cultures in which they are nested and can, writing?
therefore, connect readers to cultures that
are different from their own. EQ2. What are the effects of reading
narratives from cultures that are different
U2. Authors’ literary voices and rhetoric, as from our own?
displayed through tone and theme, are EQ3. How do our personal backgrounds
influenced by their sociocultural context, and influence the way we interpret texts from
serve the social function of representing other cultures?
aspects of their culture for a range of
readers EQ4. What social and cultural roles can texts
play in cultures other than those in which
U3. Readers’ own sociocultural backgrounds they were written?
influence their perception of any given text.

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Students will Know… Students will be skilled at (Doing)…
K1. The definition of “tone,” which is the D1. Explaining how an author’s sociocultural
attitude an author has towards their writing background influences his or her narrative
voice. (Understanding)
K2. The definition of “theme,” which is a
topic of discussion or writing; a major idea D2. Assessing the impact of various authors’
broad enough to cover the entire scope of a sociocultural contexts on their narratives.
literary work. (Evaluating)
K3. How narrative voice shapes and shifts D3. Generating thoughtful responses to
tone and meaning in a text. questions about authors, texts, and
societies. (Creating)
K4. The definition of “sociocultural context,”
which is “the idea that language, rather than D4. Applying their knowledge about tone
existing in isolation, is closely linked to the and theme to interpret main idea and
culture and society in which it is used.” purpose. (Applying)
K5. How the sociocultural context (Time, D5. Interpreting theme within works of
Place, Region) surrounding the following writing. (Analyzing)
authors can be seen in the tone and themes D6. Developing ideas about the social
of their writing: functions of texts from other cultures
a. Maya Angelou (Creating)
b. Sherman Alexie D7. Analyzing tone and theme as they
pertain to the overall impact of a narrative
c. David Sedaris
d. Amy Tan
D8. Comparing authors’ sociocultural
K6. That works of narrative writing serve a contexts to the themes in their writing.
social function, representing the culture of (Analyzing)
their authors to readers with different
D9. Identifying tone and tone shifts in a
narrative nonfiction text. (Applying)
K7. Their own sociocultural backgrounds and
D10. Identifying the elements that contribute
how those backgrounds affect their
to establishing theme in a narrative
perceptions of texts.
nonfiction text. (Remembering)
K8. That reading narratives gives them
D11. Incorporating their knowledge about
insight into the sociocultural context of both
their own sociocultural contexts into their
the text and author, broadening perspective
understanding about their perceptions of
and connecting them to other cultures.
texts (Analyzing)

**Note: After each learning goal, please provide a parenthetical label (i.e., U1, U2, K1, K2, D1,
D2, etc.)
For DO goals, also label with Cognitive Level from Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (2001)

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Performance Assessment / Summative Assessment Plan

General Description:
The primary summative assessment for this unit will be the students’ application of the
knowledge and ideas discussed surrounding sociocultural context to a self-chosen piece by
one of the authors we discussed. They will create a podcast focusing on their chosen work,
incorporating elements of both the author’s and their own sociocultural context. They will
need to explain the cyclical nature of cultural influence, the social functions of writing, and
how their culture influences their perception through clear analysis of text. I will be
providing them with a list of other texts by the authors we have studied for them to choose
from, as well as an example of this project completed about an author we have not studied.
This will allow them to see the form of the project without influencing the content they

I believe the prompt incorporates either implicitly or explicitly: U1; U2; U3; K3; K4; K5; K6; K7;
K8; D1; D2; D3; D4; D5; D6; D7; D9; D11—81%

Assessment Timing and Presentation:

Students will be building their knowledge and expanding their ideas about the impact of
sociocultural context on literature throughout the unit. They will understand how texts are
influenced by their authors, and how perceptions of text are impacted by readers’ own
contexts. They will have small group and whole class discussions throughout the unit where
they will practice grappling with and articulating their ideas. The project will be introduced
midway through the unit, once students have been introduced to all four authors, and there
will be pieces of time each day after that for them to work with the material. They will then
be given class time to look at options and select their piece for their final assessment. They
will rank their preferences and I will pair them up based on common choices so they are
paired with someone using the same text/author as them. There will be elements assigned
to be worked on at home, but adequate class time will be provided for them to collaborate
and create their final products.

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Performance Assessment:
Prompt for Students:
“You are a host on a podcast about literary critiques that is frequently listened to by range of
people from age 14+ who are interested in understanding more about authors and their work.
You’ve been asked to co-host a segment about the influence that sociocultural context has on
author’s voices. You will be giving an overview of the influence of sociocultural context on a
specific piece of writing and the relationship between author-text, reader-text, and reader-
author. You’ll also be explaining how you spot and analyze elements of text contributing to tone,
theme, and sociocultural context

Choose a narrative piece that we haven’t read by one of the authors we have studied, and create
a podcast in which you discuss how that author’s particular background can be seen in the tone
and themes of their text through the close reading of a chosen passage. This will include a script
that maps out your points to be contributed to the podcast. Identify the main ideas and draw
connections to the author’s culture and yours. Use specific textual evidence to support your
points so that your listeners get a clear sense of the sociocultural influence and how you arrived
at your conclusions about authorial voice and cultural impact.

You will be paired up based on author selection and will work with your cohost to create a
cohesive recording in which you:
 Provide background information on your author
 Touch on essential definitions (tone, theme, sociocultural context)
 Each provide your analyses on a particular passage and discuss the differences you find
between them
 Develop and ask two high level questions of each other that stem from the work we’ve
done throughout the unit
 Discuss how your own sociocultural contexts influence the way you approach and
interpret this text. Consider the questions “How does this text connect you to the culture
of the author, and why is it/is it not significant?”

You will be assessed on the clarity of your analyses and ability to demonstrate your
understanding about how texts, authors, and readers are influenced by sociocultural context.

Goal – Your goal is to analyze a fresh text by one of the authors we discussed this week in terms
of the sociocultural influence of the author and clearly convey your analysis and understanding
to the listeners of your podcast
Role – You are a host on a podcast about literary critiques
Audience – Your audience consists of high school listeners that use this podcast as an
educational tool
Situation – You’ll need to grapple with the text and sociocultural background of the author in a
clear way listeners can understand without seeing the text or you
Purpose, product, performance – you will develop a podcast so that your listeners understand
the role that sociocultural influence plays in literature.
Standards – your lesson needs to address the author’s main idea, provide evidence of cultural
background within the text in terms of tone or theme, and incorporate your views on the social
impact of the piece.
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Formative Assessment Plan
What FORMAL methods will you use to gauge students’ progress towards the learning goals
and provide feedback and support leading up the summative assessments? Remember that
formal formative assessments are those for which you will collect tangible evidence of
students’ progress towards the learning goals AND use the data you collect to inform your

Formal Formative Assessment Description Alignment Alignment with Summative

(including implementation & feedback plans) with UKDs Assessment(s)

Whole class discussion on the first day of the
unit about what sociocultural context is and
how students believe it could impact
authors’ writing and readers’ perceptions.
Students will then complete and turn in a
reflection about:
1. How well do you feel you understand
This reflection will show me
sociocultural context in terms of
how well they are
authorial influence? What is still
understanding what
U3 sociocultural context is, and
2. How does your own context influence
K6, K7 how it impacts both text
your perceptions of text?
D2, D11 and reader. These ideas are
3. At this point, what social functions do
critical for the basis of the
you believe writing can hold?
unit, and are the foundation
of the performance piece.
This assessment will take place after the
introduction to the unit and authors we will
be reading. I will use it as a diagnostic
formative assessment to inform the way I
approach our first text, and will return their
reflection sheets with comments about their
connections and depth of thinking the
following day.
(LP#1) Check-In Sheet K1, K2, K5, This gives students an
After giving background information on the D1, D9 opportunity to practice
first author (Sherman Alexie) and discussing identifying the specific
tone shifts and themes in narratives using aspects of text that are
“Superman and Me,” students will complete influenced by sociocultural
a check in sheet asking them to define tone context. It will inform me
and show their analysis on how it shifts about how well they are
throughout the piece. They will then apply able to connect the
their knowledge about sociocultural context background information
to the tones they have identified. This is about the author to the
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included as an opportunity for students to
articulate their thinking about specific pieces
of the text in more depth. It provides them
an opportunity to practice identifying the
specific aspects of text that are influenced by
sociocultural context. It will inform me about
how well they are able to connect the
actual narrative, something
background information about the author to
they will be explicitly asked
the actual narrative and identify 1. The tone
to do in their performance
of a piece and 2. The moments where tone
shifts, what it shifts to, and why they think
that matters. I will collect these at the end of
class in order to evaluate their grasp of how
tone functions in this piece and how it is
influenced by an author’s culture. I will return
them the following day for them to use in
their discussions and future analyses and
address any misconceptions I notice.
Exit Ticket:
A small group discussion will take place
during the second half of class on day four of
the unit. Students will be comparing the
sociocultural contexts of David Sedaris and
Maya Angelou to the themes identified in
their writing, discussing the different effects This provides an
created by the rhetoric of each author. opportunity for students to
Students will complete an exit ticket with the compare the different texts
following prompts: and backgrounds of
1. Compare the sociocultural contexts different authors. It
of Sedaris and Angelou—how are encourages critical thinking
they manifested in their work (for the about their specific
one you read)? Respond in at least sociocultural contexts, and
three sentences. how they are manifested in
D4, D8, D10
2. Identify a theme and main idea their writing. This will aid in
from each of the pieces we discussed their ability to differentiate
today. between contexts, and
3.Which elements that you identified allow them time to think
give you insight about the cultural of about which author they
the author? might like to focus on for
their final assessment.
Students will turn these in at the end of class.
I will review them, provide feedback about
how effectively they are making connections,
and return them the following day. We will
go through the questions as a bridge into the
next lesson.

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(LP#2) Check-Up Sheet
Administered at the end of LP2, these will be
used as a formal formative assessment to
Cultural influence is a big
inform me about how well they have
theme in this unit, and this
understood the content from today in terms
check up sheet will show
of how it fits into the larger themes of the
me how well they are
unit and the assessment they will all be
making connections
completing later on. They will give me an idea
between author-text-
of whether or not they are able to see where
reader. This is geared
exactly this information can contribute to U1
specifically towards getting
their final products about the texts they K5, K8
them thinking about how
choose. I will review the sheets during my D6
they will apply their ideas
planning period and after school, and I will
about sociocultural
return them with written feedback the
contexts to the piece they
following day so that they can look them
have chosen for their final
over and be thinking about their products
product and provides them
over the weekend. If I notice certain patters
a space to organize their
emerging that cause concern, I will provide
thoughts in preparation.
additional minilessons (if they are
widespread) or individual conferenced during
work time later on (if they are isolated).


Day Summary of Class CONTENT and ACTIVITIES UKDs Addressed

1 Introduction to sociocultural context: U1, U3,

 Individual and full-class brainstorm—what is K4, K5, K6, K7, K8,
sociocultural context? D2, D11
 Overview of Unit Goals and authors (student
friendly language)
 Lecture (10 min): introduce sociocultural
context, emphasizing the ways it influences
authors and text, as well as readers.
 Think-Pair-Share: Before we dive into the unit,
students will be asked to think about their
own sociocultural contexts and how they
influence the way they read
o Write down thoughts (2 min), discuss
with elbow partner (2 min), brief share
out to class (3 min) -> tie into the idea
that as our cultures influence how we
read, authors’ cultures influence how
they write.
 Watch this 2:54 video as an introduction to
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Sherman Alexie
o Supplement with other cultural details
and bridge towards the social and
cultural functions of text
 Read “Superman and Me,” keeping in mind
that we will go further in depth with it the
following day
 Closure: Reflection Sheet (see explanation in
assessment plan)

See Lesson Plan 1: Direct Instruction Model

 Assign this video(6:43) and “Mother Tongue”
2 K1, K3, K5(b)
as homework—an introduction to Amy Tan
D1, D9
and setup for tomorrow’s lesson

3  Do Now: Define theme, give an example from U2

“Mother Tongue” and explain how it is K2, K5(d), K6
embedded in the text. [Bridge to lesson after D5, D10
 Debrief the homework video and reading,
answering any unanswered questions and
supplementing with other background
 Intro to theme by asking students to think
back to our discussion from the first day and
apply those ideas to what they know about
Amy Tan and the themes they picked up on in
“Mother Tongue” (Opportunity to apply
previous content)
 Minilesson: similar to the DI lesson about
tone, this will focus on theme using Amy Tan’s
“Mother Tongue.” It will focus on themes as
concepts that stretch through texts under the
surface and help them to identify the elements
that help identify theme
 Workshop: This short workshop will provide
an opportunity for students to practice
identifying thematic elements and interpreting
main ideas
 Small Group Reflection: I will circulate as
students discuss: 1. How Tan’s background
played into the themes of her text, as well as
how their own contexts influenced where they
picked up on different themes and 2. What
insights the got into another culture through
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the themes discussed
 Homework: Assign half the class to research
Maya Angelou and the other half researches
David Sedaris, answering question about
background, family, childhood, etc.

 Do Now: students will complete a do now that

looks very similar to the check-in sheet the
completed during the DI lesson. They will
follow the process of identifying tone and
applying sociocultural context with a piece of
the text they read for homework (spaced
 Pairs: Have students pair up with someone
who researched the author that they did not
and have them teach each other the
background information
 Have pairs pick one of the authors they
discussed and read either “Graduation” by U1, U2
4 Amy Tan or “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David K5(b), K5(c)
Sedaris, annotating for tone and theme was D4, D7, D8, D10
practiced in the previous two lessons
 Students will then discuss the identified
elements with each other and then group up
with another pair to discuss the sociocultural
influences and identify the main ideas
 Introduce performance task: Have students
rank their choices of which of the authors they
want to work with [they will be sorted based
on preference, creating pairs of students
focusing on the same author]
 Exit ticket: (see explanation in assessment
5  Short opening lecture about the social U2
functions of texts, leading into a discussion K6, K8
connecting the work they’ve done so far to D6
thinking about how texts function inside and
outside the classroom. Transition into talking
about how they will discuss these functions in
their final assessments
 Break down the performance task and play a
couple of examples from previous classes
 Allow time for lingering questions about the
unit material, concepts, and performance task
 Announce pairs and provide the selection of
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new texts they have to choose from
 Once chosen, they may begin to map out their
responsibilities for the project
 Homework: Read chosen piece at least twice
and begin developing their individual pieces of
the script. They will each provide their own
analysis of a chosen passage and discuss the
differences in the podcast
See Lesson Plan 2: Cooperative Learning Model
 The time after the graffiti will be spent
working in pairs to put together their
individual elements into a cohesive script to be
6 K5, K8
used the following day. They may also use this
D3, D6
time to develop the questions they will be
asking each other and prepare responses
 Students will use this day to record and
prepare to submit their podcasts
 Some will stay in the classroom, some will go
and work in the library, teacher’s lounge,
Product will assess: U1;
common area, etc. so that they all have
U2; U3; K3; K4; K5; K6;
7 enough quiet space to record in
K7; K8; D1; D2; D3; D4; D5;
*They will record using either their computers or
D6; D7; D9; D11
voice recorders checked out from the library. These
will be submitted either via email (if they use their
computers) or via USB drive (if they use the school’s

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