Chris Adcock
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Grade 11 ELA
  • Marketing
  • Teenagers
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    American Dream Convention

    American Dream Convention


    In this lesson, students will meet in groups, read some background information about characters, and create a shared page for the character they will represent at the American Dream Convention.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Make sure you have assigned groups and planned for the transition into group work. Ideally, you will divide your students into eight groups. However, if you need an extra reading, the article “A Model of Christian Charity” by John Winthrop and background information about Winthrop are available in More to Explore.
    • Decide how you will put students in mixed-character groups. Each group should be composed of students from different character-based groups (e.g., one student from the Carnegie group, one from the Douglass group, etc.), with about four students per group.

    Character Reflection

    The purpose of this reflection is to get students thinking about how they make inferences about people's character and how people decide how to present themselves electronically.


    In your notebook, reflect on the following prompt.

    • If you could see someone online—perhaps on a social network page or blog—but did not yet know him or her personally, what would you look for to figure out what kind of person he or she is?
    • List the qualities you would deem important to check.


    Character Class Discussion

    Elicit responses from several students. Responses may include who someone's friends are; what kinds of things they say; what their friends say about them; opinions they post; what kinds of pages they like; links they post; evidence of things they have done; and more.

    Project or display the questions for easier viewing.

    • SWD: Providing a short passage and example profile or post to highlight the evidence can be useful for some SWDs, both in initially explaining the project or as a reference for them as they work.

    Work Time

    Share your insights with the whole class. Use the questions below to guide your discussion.

    • What do you and your classmates look at to tell what kind of person someone is?
    • How do people reveal their characters electronically?
    • How do people reveal their characters in real life?
    • Do you think the judgments you make, whether online or in person, are fair?


    Convention Assignment Review

    Review the assignment with your students. It's important that they fully understand the project and its requirements before they begin working with their groups.

    • ELL: Some students might benefit from a modified or annotated version of the instructions to help them identify the most important information.

    Work Time

    Review the requirements of the American Dream Convention with your teacher. Be sure to ask any questions you have.

    Character Page

    • Project or display the student instructions for easier viewing.
    • You can carefully preface this group work by reminding students again of the group norms; they will be working with this group for the next two episodes of the unit, and it's important that they learn to function well together.
    • If you feel it would work for your students, you can take the time to do a couple of team-building games or activities in groups before they get down to work.
    • Each group should introduce its character to the class and share the description the group created.

    Work Time

    With your group, select the background information about your character from the options on the next page and read your document.

    • Annotate for details that give you clues about what your character was like as a person.
    • Then create a character profile page describing your character: include your character’s “likes,” friends, key events in his or her life, and any other details you think are important.

    Remember, each person in the group should have the character profile page so he or she can share it with others in the next task.

    Reading Options

    Comments on Characters

    • Put students in the mixed-character small groups for this task. Tell them that in this lesson they will generally be working with their character's group, not in mixed groups.
    • After each character introduction, give students time to write a response from the point of view of their own character.
      • SWD: Some students may have more difficulty than others putting themselves into the mind of another character. Be prepared to make modifications for students who need them during this task, including allowing students to respond to the characters as themselves.
    • Remind students to remain in character as they write, keeping the tone and language their original writer would have used.

    Work Time

    With students from other character-based groups, share the character profile pages you created. As you review your classmates’ character profile pages, think about how your character would respond.

    • Staying in character, write a one-sentence response to each character profile page.

    Write and then compare your responses with those of your other group members.

    Character Group Share

    Put students back in their character groups for this task.

    • SWD: Before students with disabilities participate in sharing with the whole group, have a quick conference with them to make sure they are prepared. This will give them confidence to participate in the larger setting.


    Return to your character-based small group and share the comments you received from your classmates.

    Use the questions below to guide your discussion.

    • How were the comments similar? Different?
    • Which characters do you think would be most likely to want to converse with your character? Why?

    Independent Reading and Journals

    Ask students to submit their Dialectical Journal entry to you.


    Continue with your Independent Reading and Dialectical Journal entries.