Bringing the Journey to Life | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M3B:U3

Bringing the Journey to Life

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In this unit, students finish reading A Mighty Long Way and complete their study of Carlotta's journey to justice. Students also study the ways in which Carlotta Walls Lanier decided to tell her own story by examining, in part, her use of language techniques. For the mid-unit assessment, students show what they know about language techniques when they determine the effectiveness of language techniques such as the functions and types of verbals, use of the subjunctive and conditional mood in a sentence, and the meaning conveyed by using the active and passive voice. 

In the second half of the unit, students choose four photographs from the book Little Rock Girl 1957 as key events to lift up in a film based on A Mighty Long Way, and a song for the film soundtrack. For the end of unit assessment, students write an on-demand response describing the photographs and song they have chosen and arguing why they have chosen them using evidence from A Mighty Long Way to support their claims. Finally, for the final performance task, students present their photographs and song choice and their arguments for choosing them for the whole group.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How can photographs tell a story?
  • Photographs capture key events in time and preserve moments in history.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read literature and informational text about the Second Sudanese Civil War. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies Practices and Themes to support potential interdisciplinary connections to this compelling content.

These intentional connections are described below. 

Big ideas and guiding questions are informed by the New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies FrameworkUnifying Themes (pages 6-7) 

  • 1. Individual Development and Cultural Identity

-   Role of social, political, and cultural interactions in the development of identity
-   Personal identity is a function of an individual's culture, time, place, geography, interaction with groups, influences from institutions, and lived experiences 

  • 3. Time, Continuity, and Change

-   Reading, reconstructing, and interpreting events
-   Analyzing causes and consequences of events and developments
-   Considering competing interpretations of events

  • 5. Development and Transformation of Social Structures

-   Role of social class, systems of stratification, social groups, and institutions 
-   Role of gender, race, ethnicity, education, class, age, and religion in defining social structures within a culture 
-   Social and political inequalities 
-   Expansion and access of rights through concepts of justice and human rights

  • 6. Power, Authority, and Governance

-   Individual rights and responsibilities as protected and challenged within the context of majority rule
-   Fundamental principles and values of constitutional democracy
-   Origins, uses, and abuses of power 

  • 7. Civic Ideals and Practices

-   Basic freedoms and rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democratic republic
-   Civic participation and engagement
-   Respect for diversity
-   Struggle for rights, access to citizenship rights, and universal human rights

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School
by Carlotta Walls Lanier
ISBN: 978-0-345-51101-0
Ripples of Hope: Great American Civil Rights Speeches
by Josh Gottheimer
ISBN: 978-0465027538
Little Rock Girl 1957: How a Photograph Changed the Fight for Integration
by Shelley Tougas
ISBN: 978-0-756-54512-3

Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions


  • Collaborate with the social studies teacher during this unit as students build background knowledge about the civil rights movement.
  • Invite people who were involved in the civil rights movement to visit and provide students with compelling and interesting stories and experiences.

Students may study the ways in which their own community was involved in the African American civil rights movement, as well as other civil rights movements such as the women's suffrage movement or the American Indian civil rights movement.

Students may organize a community benefit or event to remember the local history of the African American civil rights movement.


  • Consider using the Library of Congress as a resource for additional information and sources about the civil rights movement.
  • Consider asking students to synthesize the knowledge they have gained about the civil rights movement in an informational essay based on A Mighty Long WayLittle Rock Girl 1957, and the various primary sources they have analyzed in this module. 

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