Through direct instruction in social and emotional learning, Umoja Seminar prepares students to thrive in school and beyond. The units described below average between 25-30 lessons of ~45 minutes in duration. Unless otherwise specified in the description, most units are appropriate for middle through high school learners and may be used in both formal and informal learning environments. Derived from a 22-unit scope of study, units may be taught independently or as part of a multi-unit series. For information about how to purchase units by grade level or the curriculum as a whole, contact Rosa Zamora at.
Embodying My Career
Investigating the world of work supports teens to catch a vision of their future. This unit combines individualized research with vibrant group discussions and learning activities about the education and lifestyle connected to different career paths. As young people connect their personal values with potential careers, they seek out professional role models who embody these values. Interviewing professionals in their community launches learners on an extensive research project investigating a ‘top growth’ career. Learners gather information on the education required for their chosen profession, wages they can anticipate earning over a lifetime, and avenues for career advancement. Amassing the details to truly envision themselves in their chosen professional setting, teens illustrate their professional self-image through a “body biography.” Tracing the outline of their body, learners draw themselves as they imagine their life could be in their chosen career, surrounding their body with highlights from their research. These ‘career characters’ may be posted in a public gallery to inspire others to consider their vision of their professional selves.
Growing Goals for Success
10th-12th graders kick off the school year with a wide variety of learning activities that build classroom community and habits of ‘doing school’ to achieve personal and group goals. Classmates begin by learning about each other and growing a sense of belonging in their school. Learners connect with each other, school resources, and even find connections between school rules and their own values. After creating shared agreements to keep their class safe and productive, high schoolers consider their individual goals for the next year(s) of high school. Learners consider how to advance these goals during vibrant activities and discussions about organization, time management, showing up, avoiding zeros, and growing a growth mindset. To capture their vision for themselves and their class, 10th-12th graders craft individual and group G.R.O.W. Goals for the coming semester, claiming their legacy.
Telling Our Stories
Incoming high schoolers grow the mindset that each of them is an important part of their school community and are responsible to and for themselves and each other. In a unit designed for the beginning of the school year, this orientation balances the needs of the individual and those of the learning community. Through high-engagement activities, learners practice foundational skills to support their success, including knowing about the school resources in place to support them. 9th graders will also become oriented to the school’s values and guidelines. As they look back to their middle school years and forward to their high school careers, 9th graders write and illustrate a short autobiography that describes where they’ve been and where they’re going as a learner. By sharing their stories and aspirations with peers, classmates learn in depth about each other and work to support individual and collective goals. This sense of community within the class culminates in a publication party.
This unit involves teens in a hands-on project that addresses food justice, both globally and in their community. In districts with service learning requirements, this unit champions the belief that each individual has both the ability and responsibility to affect positive social change. Because food touches us all, learners will find relevance in lessons that explore the problem of food from a local, national, and international perspective. Learning activities include experiential simulations of grocery shopping in food deserts, examining photographs of what families eat in the developing world, and investigating school lunches. Following this orientation to food justice issues, a resource packet is provided to support a student-led project, ranging from international to local actions. With extensive student voice and choice, the group will grapple with the challenge of speaking truth to power and the standards of ethical and equitable living.
Personal and Group Identity
Reflecting on identity is quite possibly the most important business of being a teenager. This unit asks teens to describe what it’s like to be them—how their insides and outsides match, or perhaps don’t—within a social media-soaked culture. Radiating out from themselves, students discuss family and the parts of themselves that they inherit. Extending an additional layer, peers ask each other what community means to them. With videos, poems, and provocative readings, learners discuss how stereotypes of race, gender, and class block authentic relationships and cause harm. In a culminating project, students symbolically express their identity in relationship to others in the form of a ‘Me Map’ map. Representing their figurative boundaries, natural resources, and ports of entry, young people become clearer about who they are and how they connect with others.
Problem Solving & Conflict Resolution
In a unit of study relevant to every human being, young people practice positive ways to avoid conflict and address problems. By learning the practical problem-solving tools of ‘Solutionaries,’ teens will be supported to manage real life situations. Foundational topics include making problems smaller rather than bigger, digging to the root cause, and locus of control. Building on this foundation, learners practice communication skills like being assertive, using ‘I statements’, tuning into tone, close listening, and viewing multiple perspectives. The remainder of the unit focuses on responding to harm in restorative ways by being an interrupter of bullying behavior, apologizing, forgiving, and healing. The culminating group project invites young people to see conflict and adversity as opportunities for growth, to embrace self-reflection, and to strive for resolution when a problem is within their locus of control. Within the project, small groups choose a scenario that challenges them to use problem-solving and communication skills to find an effective resolution. Groups share strategies and insight with each other as they perform their solution for the group.