Contents: Classroom Contract – Activity 1

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Los Angeles Unified School District

Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and School Support

Secondary Literacy/English Language Arts

Mindsets for Resiliency and Success – Grade 9


Classroom Contract – Activity 1

Visual Text and Poem – Activities 2-5

Visual text: The Rose that Grew from Concrete Link to Visual Text

Shakur, Tupac. "The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur." The Rose That Grew from Concrete. New York: MTV, 2009. N. page. - Famous Poems, Famous Poets. Web. 15 Aug. 2014. . "The Rose that Grew from Concrete"
Resilience - Activities – 6-8
"Resilience." PBS. PBS, 2011. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <>.

Link to PDF of article
Visual text: Resilience. ReelYouth, 2013. Film. Link to Video
Mindset – Activities – 9-15
Holmes, Nigel. "Two Mindsets." Two Mindsets – Nigel Holmes Explanation Graphics. Stanford Magazine, 2009. Web. 15 Aug. 2014. <>.
Newspaper Article – Activities –16-19
Noriyuki, Duane. "His Own Path to a Life's Dream." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 03 Oct. 1997. Web. 15 Aug. 2014. <>.

Video: Overcoming Obstacles – Activities 20-21

Claunch , Steven, perf. Overcoming Obstacles. Dir. Avi Ofer. TED Ed, 2013. Web. 24 Jul 2014. <>.

Link to video transcript

Prompt Analysis and Essay – Activities 22-23

Unit Description

The “Mindsets for Resiliency and Success” mini-unit is designed to be delivered during the first few days of summer school to help with introducing students to habits of discourse and thinking around reading, writing, speaking, and listening that will support their learning throughout the summer session. Guidance is provided to teachers to help with establishing norms for conversation and collaboration.

In this unit, students begin by collaborating on the creation of a “Classroom Contract” to establish expected norms of behavior and interaction in their classroom. As they engage with the content of the unit, students explore the themes of mindset and resiliency through a variety of text types (visual, poetry, informational text, video, etc.). The activities associated with the study of each text provide teachers with a variety of approaches to addressing the shifts of the Common Core State Standards, with opportunities to delve into academic vocabulary in complex texts, to build knowledge through the study of informational texts, and to draw evidence from texts to support reading comprehension, academic conversations, and writing pieces. Activities are designed to promote students’ critical reading and thinking skills, with suggestions for differentiation included to support all learners.

While the activities in this unit do not dictate the precise rituals and routines teachers will want to establish in their classrooms (e.g., procedures for conducting classroom business, setting up of Readers/Writers Notebooks, discussions of what good readers and writers do, etc.), they do set out an instructional sequence that includes pedagogical approaches designed to scaffold students through the analysis of complex texts, guide them in engaging in collaborative, academic conversations, and prepare them for academic writing that addresses a variety of purposes and formats. Additionally, the activities provide teachers with multiple opportunities to formatively assess students’ abilities and understandings within the first few days of the summer session to support planning and instruction for the rest of the term.

As you work with this unit, please feel free to make adjustments to meet the needs of your students as appropriate. The lessons and materials that follow are not a scripted curriculum that must be followed absolutely. They are, rather, a place for you to begin…

Thank you,

The OCISS Secondary Literacy Team

Common Core State Standards addressed in this unit:

RI 9-10.1 Cite textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI 9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

RI 9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).

W 9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

W 9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

SL 9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

SL 9-10.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

L 9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

L9-10.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

L9-10.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multi-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

L9-10.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, work relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

Establishing a “Classroom Contract” for a Safe and Productive Learning Environment

(Activity 1 approximately 30 minutes)


Classroom Contract

As the summer session begins, it is important to set norms with students for behavior and participation within the classroom. These norms can be viewed as a “Classroom Contract” that students generate and agree to abide by. Activity 1 provides a method for establishing this contract with students. This entire activity should take no more than 30 minutes. To introduce this activity to students, you may want to briefly talk to them about the importance of building a community where everyone takes ownership for behavior and interactions so that success can be more readily achieved. The goal of the activity is to establish norms for a classroom community where expectations are clear, work is the focus, and anxiety is minimized. The goal of the summer session is to ensure that students successfully pass the course with the skills and knowledge they need to move forward next year.

Activity 1 – Classroom Contract

Quickwrite with Think Pair Share Square

Directions: Take a few minutes to respond to the following prompt:

What attitudes, behaviors, and environmental factors combine to create a successful classroom community?

After you have responded to the prompt, find a partner and share your response. Once you have exchanged ideas with your partner, square up with another set of partners and share your ideas.

With your group of four, generate a list of 3-4 words or phrases that describe a responsible classroom community member.

After students have had the chance to share their ideas, open up the discussion to the entire class. Record their ideas on the board, putting a check mark next to duplicates. Make note of synonyms and choose one to represent the idea (e.g., “teamwork” and “cooperation” might be close enough in meaning for cooperation to represent both and receive a check mark). Once groups have shared out, ask the class to work together to create a definition of a successful classroom community using the top choices from the board. When they have come to consensus on the definition, record it on a piece of chart paper and have all students sign it as an indication that they are part of this community and agree to this “classroom contract.”


(Activities 2-4 approximately 60 minutes)

Be sure to provide brief instruction on the meaning and use of the conversation moves and/or instructional activities before asking students to employ them.

Routines to Introduce:

Core Academic Conversation Moves - Rich and meaningful conversations can deepen our understanding of concepts and ideas. Effective conversations provide us with the opportunity to share ideas as well as listen to the ideas of others with the goal of walking away with new ideas. Core Academic Conversation Moves are based on the work of Jeff Zwiers.

  • Support Ideas with Examples is the conversation move that will be introduced during this sequence. This conversation move helps students strengthen their ideas by prompting each other to provide evidence that supports statements about a text or topic, and by responding to those prompts with specific examples. This skill will be used throughout the lesson sequence. For a graphic example, click here.

Check for Understanding: It is helpful to conduct regular formative assessments to check for students’ understanding of new content and to allow time for students to reflect on the information presented in class. The Check for Understanding activities in this section may be used during class, at the end of the day as Exit Slips, or for homework. These quick formative assessments should be used to determine misconceptions that students may have around the content so that they might be addressed.


Analysis of a Visual Text and Poem

One way to prepare students for the work that they will do during this unit is to have them do a brief analysis of a visual text and a poem that connect to concepts and ideas they will explore throughout the unit. Display the visual text (link to texts provided in the Contents section) and have students respond to the questions in Activity 2.

Activity 2 – Reading a Visual Text

Directions: Respond to the following questions. Use the conversation move, Support Ideas with Examples, to discuss your responses to the questions with a partner.

  1. What is happening in this visual text?

  2. What questions do you have about this visual text?

Support Ideas with Examples: Ideas for Prompting and Responding

Ideas for Prompting

Stems for Responding

  1. Why do you say that?

  2. Can you show me where it says/shows that?

  3. What is the evidence for that?

  4. What is a real-world example?

  5. How do you justify that?

  1. For example…

  2. In the text it said/showed that…

  3. For instance…

  4. Have you ever…?

  5. In this situation…

After you have discussed the questions with a partner, respond to the question below. Be prepared to discuss your response with the class using following conversation move: Support Ideas with Examples.

  • What is striking about this image? Why is it striking?

Listening and Reacting

After students discuss their responses to the questions in Activity 2, read the poem, “The Rose that Grew from Concrete,” by Tupac Shakur, aloud to the class. You can also elect to have a student read the poem aloud to the class. Project the poem or provide copies so that the students can follow along as you read. Review the questions in Activity 3 prior to reading the poem.

Use the questions in Activity 3 to propel the discussion of the poem. Have students work in pairs to answer the questions prior to discussing them as a whole class.

Students should use the conversation move Support Ideas with Examples as they engage in the discussion.

Activity 3 – Responding to “The Rose That Grew from Concrete,” by Tupac Shakur

Directions: Consider the following questions as your teacher reads the poem aloud to you. Be prepared to discuss the questions using Support Ideas with Examples.

  1. What is this poem about?

  2. What does the rose symbolize?

  3. What does the concrete symbolize?

  4. The word autobiographical appears underneath the title of the poem. How does the information that this poem was autobiographical add to or enhance your understanding of what Tupac was saying?

After you have shared your thinking with your classmates, discuss the following question with a partner:

  1. Resiliency is the ability to overcome challenges and bounce back. How is the image of a rose growing from concrete an example of resiliency? Use evidence from both the visual text and the poem to support your response.

After you have discussed your ideas, write your response and be prepared to engage in a conversation with the class using the conversation move: Support Ideas with Examples.

Suggestions for Differentiation Activity 3

It is important for all students, particularly English learners, to practice using language in academic contexts, both orally and in writing. Jeff Zwiers’ “Stronger and Clearer Each Time” strategy offers an opportunity for students to practice making their responses to a question or prompt stronger and clearer through talking with partners. This activity supports students in moving beyond their initial “fill in the blank” type of answer, in critical thinking, in oral language development, and in clarifying their ideas on a topic.

In this activity, students meet with a partner and each person shares his/her initial response to a prompt. Students make note of new or clearer ideas generated from what their partner has shared then move to a second partner to share their responses, which should be stronger and clearer as a result of their first conversation. After making more notes on new, clearer, stronger ideas generated from the second conversation, students move to a third partner to share and further fortify their thinking. Finally, students can return to their seats and record their new stronger, clearer responses to the prompt. An Interview Grid (Zwiers, et al., 2014) can be used to help student keep track of their ideas.

The process should be modeled for/with students so they understand how their responses should evolve as they work with successive partners.

Post reading

Thinking Critically

After the discussion of “The Rose that Grew From Concrete,” inform the students that over the next few days, they will be exploring resiliency and how our attitudes toward difficult circumstances connect to our ability to bounce back when faced with challenges.

Activity 4 – Representations of Resiliency

In the poem, “The Rose That Grew from Concrete,” Tupac Shakur uses the image of a rose growing from concrete to explain his ability to be resilient in the face of difficult circumstances. (Resiliency is the ability to overcome challenges and bounce back.) Create an image or write a poem (e.g., modeled on Tupac’s poem, a pantoum, a haiku, an “I Am” poem, etc.) that represents an obstacle you face and shows how you are able to be resilient when facing that obstacle. Write one paragraph that explains your image or poem. Make sure to support your explanation with evidence from your text. Be prepared to share your image or poem with a partner.

Tell students that at the end of class they will respond to the questions below on a piece of paper. Instruct students that this will be their exit ticket or homework assignment.

Activity 5 – Check for Understanding

Directions: Respond to the following prompts on a piece of paper.

Content: Explain your understanding of resiliency. Use an example to illustrate your explanation.

Metacognition: How did our work today help you to build community, collaborate, and communicate effectively with your classmates?

As you collect and read through the student responses, look for any misunderstandings and address them during the next instructional segment.


(Activities 6-8 approximately 50 minutes)

Analysis of a Text

Be sure to provide brief instruction on the meaning and use of the conversation moves and/or instructional activities before asking students to employ them.

Routines to Introduce:

Questioning the Text: Constructing questions about difficult or confusing places in a text helps readers engage and re-engage with the text, to explore possible answers to genuine, text-based question, and generate meaning both independently and collaboratively. Kylene Beers’ suggestion for letting students create text-dependent questions provides a protocol for Questioning the Text.


One strategy to help students formulate and develop opinions on a question relating to an arguable issue is Jeff Zwiers’ Opinion Continuum. This strategy gives students the opportunity to clarify their own thinking on an issue through successive interactions in which they elaborate on their initial opinion. Choose an arguable issue for which students could have opinions. Have students draw a continuum across the page, with the opposing perspectives on each extreme. Students read the question and mark their initial response on the continuum, on one side or the other of the middle line. Students then meet with a partner taking turns to discuss their responses. While one person provides evidence and explanations to justify their position, the other asks clarifying questions. After both partners have had a turn to share and ask questions, each person reviews their initial response and adjusts the position if necessary. Students repeat this process two more times, working to refine their responses each time. After the third interaction, students return to their seats and write a paragraph explaining their final position and providing evidence and explanation to justify it.

One way to help students grapple with difficult places in a text is to allow them to generate text-based questions, and answer those questions collaboratively, with support.

Tell students that you are going to read excerpts from an online article on resilience. (Read just the “Resilience Defined” section.) As you read aloud, have students mark difficult or confusing places in the text as they listen. Use the Questioning the Text protocol to have students explore difficult passages or concepts and generate answers to their questions. As students work on formulating their questions, circulate to check in with students, to provide help with articulating questions, and to get a sense of places in the text that students are finding challenging.

Activity 6 – Questioning the Text


  1. Follow along as your teacher reads from PBS’s “Resilience” online article. As you listen, mark spots in the text where you feel confused, have a question, or wonder about something. (You should have 3 or 4 places marked by the end of the reading.)

  2. After your teacher finishes reading, re-read the text on your own. Pause each time you reach a place you marked, and write a question about the text or a comment about why you were confused at that point.

  3. After you have written your questions, share with your table partners (2-4 people). As you work, look for similarities and differences in your questions. Was there anything that you all had difficulty with? Is there anything that you can clarify for each other? As a group, select two questions to share with the class. These may be questions that you were unable to answer together, or that you found interesting or important. Be prepared to explain why you chose your two questions. Be sure to refer back to the text in your discussions and explanations.

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