facing homelessness - United Way of Greater Los Angeles

unitedwayla.org

facing homelessness - United Way of Greater Los Angeles

facing homelessness

SKILL-BUILDING CURRICULUM MATERIALS FOR

K–2, 3–5, AND 6–8 TEACHERS

Literacy development

Activities that address content standards

Activity modifications and extensions that enhance cross-curricular use

Lists of DC, MD, and VA standards addressed with each unit


We can help the homeless

An estimated 20,000 people will experience homelessness this year in the Washington, DC, metro area. Some of them we

see every day — sleeping in the parks or on the streets. Most of them we don’t see because they stay in emergency shelters,

hide in abandoned buildings, or live in their cars. Homelessness is a serious problem — both for the people who are homeless,

and for all of us who don’t believe that anyone should have to live without a real home.

Why are people homeless?

Everyone who experiences homelessness has a different story to tell about why he or she became homeless.

Some don’t have enough money to rent a place to live.

Some can’t find a job that pays enough money for them to live on.

Some are sick with a mental illness or are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Some are young people who have run away from home but can’t make it on their own.

For most people, it’s a combination of things — some they have control over and others they don’t — which cause them to

end up homeless. But all homeless people have two things in common. They are very, very poor, and they don’t have a place

indoors to live.

Why this education program?

The main reason for this program is to give students a greater understanding of the everyday struggles of the homeless and

to show them that as individuals they can help fight homelessness in their own communities.

What’s inside these pages?

This booklet is divided into three sections for grades K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. Each section contains three age-appropriate

educational Units that focus on three issues of homelessness, including what it means to be homeless and the causes and

effects of homelessness.

Where can I find more information about homelessness?

Of course, these pages can’t possibly cover every aspect of homelessness.

Below are a few resources you and your students can use to find more information about this issue:

http://www.helpthehomelessdc.org

http://www.nationalhomeless.org

http://www.nlchp.org (The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty)

http://www.naeh.org (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

By getting involved, you’ll do your part to help end homelessness. Even though it is a complicated and growing problem,

working together we can solve it.

Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2000

Contact Jay Kim at the Fannie Mae Foundation for more information.

Jay can be reached at 202-274-8066 or via email at jkim@fanniemaefoundation.org


K–2


Unit Structure

Each unit focuses on a theme connected to homelessness and emphasizes handson

experiences for students. Because every classroom is different by design,

personality, and ability, these lessons are adaptable. Ideas for higher-level

extensions for each lesson are offered for first grade students who are reading and

writing independently and for all second grade students.

Each unit’s structure is uniform and includes:

• Three one-hour lessons

• Hands-on activities that require individual and cooperative learning

• Ideas and suggestions for academic extensions and cross curriculum adaptations

• Background teacher support information that includes materials needed for each

lesson, teacher preparation time required, activity time required, and learning

objectives

This curriculum has been designed so that Units 1,2 and 3 flow in a natural order.

Each unit, however, is self-contained and can be taught in such a way. Additionally,

each unit includes suggestions to abridge lessons for shorter time frames. Of

course, the greatest impact will occur if the units are taught in their designed

sequence and in their entirety.


Unit 1: What is homelessness?

This unit introduces very young children to the concept of homelessness. Because this concept is largely abstract to the

majority of your students, the activities are concrete — designed to assist students in defining what a home is and what it

might mean to not have a home.

Lesson One: Students decorate a box to look like the outside of a house or apartment.

Lesson Two: Students draw on pieces of paper, or choose from ready-made pictures, those things

that they would like to keep inside their boxes or “homes.” They furnish their homes.

Lesson Three: Students must choose the most essential things from their homes that they could fit

into a backpack.

Academic Extensions:

television

Classroom charts displaying students’ choices and ideas can lead to discussion and demonstrate writing and group

reading.

Independent readers and writers can make individual lists and even construct questionnaires for interviewing others.

State standards met with this unit

WASHINGTON, DC:

The content standards listed are those for which Performance Standards AND Essential Skills are met, in part, through

completion of the unit. However, additional content standards met through the unit’s academic extensions ARE NOT included.

Kindergarten Language Arts—Standard 4; Math—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4; Social Studies—Standards 2, 4

1st grade Language Arts—Standard 4; Math—Standards 3, 4; Social Studies—Standards 2, 3, 4

2nd grade Language Arts—Standard 4; Math—Standard 3; Social Studies—Standards 2, 3

MARYLAND:

Maryland standards indicate what students should know and be able to do by the end of third grade. Divided by subject area, the areas listed

below indicate the standards that are part of this unit. However, any additional standards met through the unit ’s academic extensions ARE

NOT included.

Language Arts—Reading; Listening; Speaking

Math—Geometry; Measurement; Probability; Number Relationships

Social Studies—Social Studies Skills; Geography: Geographic Concepts and Processes, Effects of Human and

Physical Systems Interactions

VIRGINIA:

The Standards of Learning (SOLs) listed are those that are met, in part, through completion of the unit. However, any additional SOLs met

through the unit’s academic extensions ARE NOT included.

Kindergarten English—Oral: K.2, K.3

Math—Computation: K.6; Measurement: K.7, K.10; Patterns: K.17

1st grade English—Oral: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3

Math—Computation:1.8; Measurement: 1.13; Probability: 1.19; Patterns: 1.20

Social Studies—Geography: 1.6

2nd grade English—Oral: 2.1, 2.2, 2.3

Math—Computation: 2.6; Measurement: 2.15

K-2 Fannie Mae

1


Unit 2: Causes of homelessness

In this unit students will read about a girl and her mother and grandmother who lose their home to a fire. The activities help

students relate to this young girl and her loss as students explore some reasons behind homelessness.

Lesson One: An adult reads A Chair for my Mother by Vera B. Williams, and everyone discusses the many ways that people

can lose their homes.

Lesson Two: Students fill a jar with small objects, such as cereal O’s, and discover how many objects it

takes to fill a jar. Then they compare this process to how long it took to fill the money jar in A Chair for my

Mother.

Lesson Three: Students make a class list of everybody’s favorite piece of furniture or simply their favorite

things about their homes. Each student paints a picture of his or her favorite item.

Academic Extensions:

Students can explore mathematical concepts of counting, estimation, place value, sorting, and coin recognition.

Second grade students are capable of subtracting expenses in the way of balancing a checkbook to observe how much

money it takes some people to live in a house or apartment.

State standards met with this unit

WASHINGTON, DC:

The content standards listed are those for which Performance Standards AND Essential Skills are met, in part, through

completion of the unit. However, additional content standards met through the unit ’s academic extensions ARE NOT included.

Kindergarten Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4; Math—Standards 1, 2, 4, 5; Social Studies: Standards 2, 3, 4, 5

1st grade Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4; Math—Standards 1, 5; Social Studies: Standards 2, 3, 4

2nd grade Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4; Math—Standards 1, 5; Social Studies: Standards 1, 2, 3

MARYLAND:

Maryland standards indicate what students should know and be able to do by the end of third grade. Divided by subject area, the areas listed

below indicate standards that are part of this unit. However, additional standards met through the unit ’s academic extensions ARE NOT included.

Language Arts—Reading ; Literature; Language Arts; Listening; Speaking

Math—Algebra; Geometry; Statistics; Probability; Number Relationships

Social Studies—Social Studies Skills; Geography

VIRGINIA:

The Standards of Learning (SOL) listed are those that are met, in part, through completion of the unit. However, any additional SOLs met

through the unit’s academic extensions ARE NOT included.

Kindergarten English—Oral: K.1, K.2, K.3, K.4; Reading: K.5, K.6, K.7, K.8; Writing: K.11

Math—Number Sense: K.1, Measurement: K.7, K.10; Probability: K.14

Social Studies—Economics: K.7

1st grade English—Oral: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4; Reading: 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9; Writing: 1.12

Math—Number Sense: 1.1; Measurement: 1.10, 1.13

Social Studies—Geography: 1.6

2nd grade English—Oral: 2.1, 2.2, 2.3; Reading: 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8

Math—Number Sense: 2.2; Measurement: 2.11

Fannie Mae K-2

2


Unit 3: Who helps the homeless?

In this unit students discuss the ways that the community assists the young girl and her family in A Chair for my Mother.

Plus, a speaker from a homeless shelter will introduce ways to help the homeless.

Lesson One: As students continue reading A Chair for My Mother, the class discusses community support

and assistance. Also, students compose a class letter to send to the little girl in the book.

Lesson Two: Students listen to a speaker from a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen share his or her

experiences. Students will have an opportunity to ask questions and talk about ideas.

Lesson Three: Students prepare a healthy after-school snack for children who currently live in a homeless shelter or who rely

on a soup kitchen for their meals.

Lesson Four (New!): Students create an ABC book and construct sentences on the subjects of homes and homelessness.

Academic Extensions:

Students can compose their own thank-you notes to the girl in A Chair for My Mother and/or to the visiting speaker.

Lessons on nutrition, basic food groups, measurement, fractions and simple multiplication are logical extensions of

lesson three, which involves preparing a snack for children living in a homeless shelter.

State standards met with this unit

WASHINGTON, DC:

The content standards listed are those whose Performance Standards AND Essential Skills are met, in part, through completion

of the unit. However, additional content standards met through the unit’s academic extensions ARE NOT included.

Kindergarten Language Arts—Standards 2, 3, 4; Math—Standards 1, 5; Social Studies—Standard 4

1st grade Language Arts—Standards 2, 3, 4; Math—Standard 5; Social Studies—Standard 4

2nd grade Language Arts: Standards 2, 3, 4; Math: Standards 1, 5; Social Studies: Standards 3, 7

MARYLAND:

Maryland standards indicate what students should know and be able to do by the end of 3rd grade. Divided by subject area, the areas listed

below indicate those standards that are part of this unit. However, additional standards met through the unit ’s academic extensions ARE NOT

included.

Language Arts—Reading; Writing; Language; Listening; Speaking

Math—Measurement

Social Studies—Social Studies Skills; Economics

VIRGINIA:

The Standards of Learning (SOLs) listed are those that are met, in part, through completion of the unit. However, any additional SOLs met

through the unit’s academic extensions ARE NOT included.

Kindergarten English—Oral: K.1, K.2, K.3; Reading: K7; Writing: K.11

Social Studies—Economics: K.7

1st grade English—Oral: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3; Reading: 1.6; Writing: 1.11, 1.12

Social Studies—Geography: 1.6

2nd grade English—Oral: 2.1, 2.2, 2.3; Reading: 2.4; Writing: 2.11

K-2 Fannie Mae

3


Unit 1, Lesson 1: Building a Home

Background Information for Unit 1

The following lesson activities all relate to teaching students about what having a home means. In order for

them to begin to understand what it means to be without a home, they must first define what a home is.

It is important for teachers to be sensitive to the varying definitions of home within each classroom. It is important to

know the home situations of each of your students prior to beginning this unit. Do you have a child who is or has been

homeless? Do you have a student in your classroom who has lost a home to a fire? Don’t assume that having a student

with this reality is a reason not to teach this unit. Instead, a child who has been through the experience of not having a

home can be a wonderful asset to teaching other children about what this experience is like.

All of these lessons require teacher-led discussion. Independent writing is not a component of these activities, but

independent work is. Each teacher may alter the activity to be a group or class project (as opposed to individual projects)

if this works better for his or her classroom.

Teacher Preparation Time: one hour

Class Time: one hour

Materials Needed:

• a shoebox or other small box for each child

• paint and paint brushes

• construction paper

• markers and crayons or oil pastels

Activity Sheet: None

Basic Objective: Students will construct a home using a

shoebox or a small box.

Desired Outcomes:

• Students will begin to think and verbalize what it means

to have a home.

• Students will demonstrate fine motor skills of painting,

cutting, and gluing.

• Students will use the skills of listening, memory, and

observation.

Background:

While constructing a home out of a box, students will reflect

on their own home and possibly the homes of others. For

students to develop a fuller appreciation of homes, they

must first think about the physical structure. This lesson

also launches students on the path to moving past the physical

structure of the home.

Suggestions:

1. Bring in a box for each child — shoe stores may donate

boxes, or have students find shoe boxes at home.

2.Have each child decorate the outside of his or her box,

making a front door of a house or apartment building.

Offer materials for use in decorating the boxes.

3.Talk about the outsides of different homes. Also ask

students if they can get an idea of what the inside of a

home is like based on the way it looks on the outside.

You can see if students have ever driven around and

wondered what the families who live inside the homes

in their neighborhoods are like and what they like to do.

In other words, have they ever been curious about the

inside of a home? End the discussion by having students

share some of the things their families do at night

in their homes.

Academic Extensions:

• Have students discuss different styles of homes, e.g.,

houses and apartments. How are they similar? How are

they different? How are houses similar and different

from one another? What about apartments?

• If your class recently read a story that described a character’s

home, talk about how that character might have

made his or her shoebox house.

Abridged Version:

• Have students work in groups to make one home, perhaps

using a box bigger than a shoebox.

Unit 1 K-2

4


Unit 1, Lesson 2: Filling a Home

Teacher Preparation Time: one hour

Class Time: one hour

Materials needed:

• Small index cards for students to draw items on.

(approx. 10-15 cards per student)

• markers and colored pencils or crayons for drawing

• a piece of paper to make a list of items that they

intend to draw (for second grade)

Activity Sheet: Home Stuff (2 pages of clip art items that

you might find in a home)

Basic Objective: Students will furnish their shoebox

homes, beginning to think about those things that are

important to them.

Desired Outcomes:

• Students will realize that homes have many different

functions and furnishings related to those functions.

• Students will begin to understand that some things in

the home are necessities, while others are not.

• Students will begin to think about the items in their

homes that hold importance.

Background:

This lesson has students move from thinking about the outside

to thinking about the inside of their homes. This should

help them think about some functions that a home fulfills.

The activity sheet provides students a selection of items

with which to furnish their shoebox homes and includes

blank spaces in which students can draw new items.

Suggestions:

1. Ask your students to hold their shoebox homes and look

on the inside of the box. Then have them think about

those items that they have in their real homes.

2.As a class, brainstorm and list some of the things in

their homes.

3.Pass out the activity sheets to students. The activity

sheets contain numerous clip art items of things typically

found in homes. There are also some blank spaces

for students to draw additional items. Ask them what

items on the activity sheets were part of the brainstorm

lists. Are there items that did not come up in the brainstorming

session? What items from the session are

missing from the activity sheets?

4.Have students cut out those items that they have in

their home.

5.Ask students to share what they cut out by having them

each pull three pieces of paper from their boxes to

share with the class.

Academic Extensions:

• Rather than brainstorm lists as a class, students can

work independently or in cooperative groups to write

down their lists.

• Using the reverse side of the items that students cut

out, students can write down the function(s) of the

items.

Abridged Version:

Students can limit the furnishing of their homes to those

items in one room of the house.

Important Terms for Unit 1:

apartment: This term will likely come up in Lesson 1; it is one

type of home that students are likely to live in.

home: Many people may associate this term strictly with

“house,” but it really means “residence,” which can be a

house, an apartment, a condominium, a duplex, or a townhouse,

etc.

homeless[ness]: One way to phrase this term is “without a

home,” [or the state of being without a home].

house: This is one type of home — usually occupied by one

family.

necessity/need: Either or both of these terms is likely to

come up in Lesson 2 and Lesson 3 as students think about

items in their homes that they must have.

practical: This will likely come up in Lesson 3 as students

decide which items from home would be practical or impractical

to carry in their backpacks.

priority: This will likely come up in Lesson 3 as students

decide which items from home would be a priority if students

had to carry their possessions with them.

want: Students may also be comfortable with the term “luxury.”

Either term is likely to come up in Lessons 2 and 3 as students

think about non-vital items in their homes.

K-2 Unit 1

5


dishes tub bed

clock clothes computer

toothbrush, floss radio pets

Unit 1 K-2

6

chair toilet knife, spoon, fork


milk, cheese sink stove

stuffed toy pot refrigerator

soap television comb

K-2 Unit 1

7


Unit 1, Lesson 3: Carrying a Home

Teacher Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Class Time: one hour

Materials needed: (for demonstration)

• a real backpack

• several items that would be appropriate and

inappropriate to pack

• a scale

• a large piece of paper or chart to record the weights

of objects

Activity Sheet: None

Basic Objective: Students will prioritize items that they

would carry with them if they lost their homes.

Desired Outcomes:

• Students will learn the difference between items that

are necessary and items that make life easier.

• Students will evaluate important items in their homes.

• Students will evaluate mass and weight.

Background:

This is the lesson where the idea of homelessness can be

introduced. Students should have developed a better understanding

for the important role that their homes play in their

lives, both as a structure and as a place for them to feel

secure and participate in things they like and need to do.

Plus, students begin to prioritize items in their homes based

on importance and portability.

Suggestions:

1. Ask your students to think about the contents of their

boxes. Have them consider what items are the most

important to them.

2.Ask them to take out the things that they could carry in

a backpack and would want if they were going to be

away from their home for a long time. This will take

lots of discussion as some children will think that they

can carry a TV with them. Make sure they think about

what they could really carry in a backpack.

3.Without repeating items, make a group list of the

things that they would be able to carry with them if students

could not return later.

4.Find items in class that roughly resemble the size and

weight of the items on the list. Use the backpack to

show what would fit and what would not fit. Allow each

child to carry the backpack, noting which things are

heavier than others. Weigh and record the items on a

chart. Have students consider which things would be too

difficult to carry with them.

5.Have students pull the items they have chosen out of

their boxes and lay them on their desks. Next, they

should consider if these items would meet their needs if

students only had these items.

6.This is a good point to talk about the fact that there are

people who do not have homes, some of whom live in

shelters, on the streets, or in parks.

Academic Extensions:

• This can easily cross into the curriculum area of science

and health as you talk about what people need to take

care of their bodies, e.g., food, a toothbrush, toothpaste,

soap, water, a place to sleep, etc.

• The backpack also provides opportunities for your students

to work more with weight and mass. For example,

you can have students add and subtract the weight of

various items. Or, you can have students estimate the

weight of items.

Abridged Version:

You can wait to introduce the idea of homelessness for Unit

2, when you read A Chair for My Mother.

Good Discussion Questions for Unit 1:

• When you think of “home,” what words come to mind?

• What is your favorite room in your home? Why?

• How are homes different from one another?

• How are homes important? Be specific.

• What does it mean to feel secure? How can homes make

you feel secure?

• Did you know that there are people who don’t have a

place to call home? (If some students have heard of this,

ask them to explain more about it.)

• Did you know that there are people your age who don’t

have a place to call home?

• What do you think it is like not to have a home?

Unit 1 K-2

8


Unit 2, Lesson 1: A Reason for Homelessness

Background Information for Unit 2

Fact: Each year, more than 1.35 million American children and youth experience life without a home. This

means that they live in a shelter, a vehicle, a park, or in someone else’s home — usually with several others.

The end of Unit 1 dealt with some of the effects of homelessness, such as not being able to have many

possessions and not having the comfort and security that a home often provides. Unit 2 digs deeper into

some of the effects of homelessness, and it has students examine some causes of homelessness.

In an effort to help K-2 children understand these aspects of homelessness, a teacher must facilitate discussion about

how people can become homeless. Independent writing will not necessarily be a component of these activities,

however, independent work will be. Each teacher may alter the activity to be a group or class project (as opposed to

individual projects) if this works better for his or her classroom.

Teacher Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Class Time: one hour

Materials Needed:

• Large piece of chart paper

• A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

• Activity Sheet: “Retell A [_____] for My [_____]” or

“Searching for the Right Words” (possibly for homework)

Basic Objective: Students listen to a story about a child

whose apartment burns down and then discuss it.

Desired Outcomes:

• Students will develop listening and discussion skills.

• Students will understand how cause and effect relate to

one another.

• Students will begin to contemplate and talk about the

many types of people who are without homes and the

many reasons people can lose their homes.

Background:

A Chair for My Mother is an award-winning children’s book

that deals beautifully with a little girl’s (and her family’s)

loss of a home. Early in the story, Rosa, her mother and her

grandmother lose their home when their apartment burns

down. Fortunately the community pitches in by providing

furniture for the family and even a stuffed animal for Rosa.

Throughout the story, though, Rosa wants to buy her mother

a big chair so she can relax when she returns from a hard

day of waiting tables at a restaurant. In the end, the family

buys the chair with the change they collect in a jar.

Suggestions:

1. Talk about the many types of people who are homeless.

For example, there are moms, dads, children, and people

of different gender and ethnicity. Talk briefly about

ways that people can lose their homes.

2.Read A Chair for my Mother by Vera B. Williams. Talk

about the child and her mother whose apartment building

burned down. Note: This is a scary idea, and you will

need to handle this delicately. While we want children

to understand that homelessness can happen to many

people, we do not want them to fear it as probable.

3.On a large piece of chart paper, record the thoughts

that come from your discussion. Examples might

include: how Rosa feels in the story; and how having a

goal — like buying the chair — was helpful.

4.You can assign the “Retell A [_____] for My [_____]”

Activity Sheet or the “Searching for the Right Words”

Activity Sheet for homework.

Academic Extensions:

• If the Activity Sheet “Retell A [_____] for My [_____]”

in Lesson 2 is too simplistic for your students, you can

have them create a storyboard that retells the story.

This will be valuable in setting up Lesson 2.

• You can use the story as an opportunity to talk about

fire safety and other safety in general because both

topics deal directly with cause and effect.

Abridged Version:

Simply read A Chair for My Mother and briefly discuss the

story. The suggested steps for the lesson can then be

transferred into Lesson 2.

K-2 Unit 2

9


Retell “A _______ for My ________”

coins

cat

supper

purse

jar

teddy bear

fire trucks

paper money

bus

light

apartment

chair

Directions: Using the pictures, complete the retelling of the story, A Chair for

my Mother, by Vera B. Williams.

My mother works as a waitress. Every day she empties all of her change from

tips out of her ____________ for me to count. After that, we put it into a

__________ to save. When it’s full, we are going to use the money to buy a

_____________ .

One day Mama and I saw two big _________________________ outside our

home! We were scared. Luckily, our pet _________ was safe, but everything

else was burned. We had to move to an ___________________ downstairs.

Everybody helped us a lot. The family across the street brought a table and

three chairs. My cousin gave me her _____________________ !

After a whole year, we filled the jar! On Mama’s day off, we took all of the

_____________ to the bank, so we could exchange them for

__________________. We took the __________ downtown to shop for our

chair. Aunt Ida and Uncle Sandy helped us get the chair home. Now Mama

has a place to sit, and after _____________ I sit with her. Sometimes I fall

asleep in her lap, so she has to reach up and turn off the _____________.

Unit 2 K-2

10


Searching for the Right Words

apartment

asleep

bank

chair

coins

empty

WORD BANK

fire

full

home

jar

kindness

shopping

sister

sitting

thankful

tips

Uncle

window

Directions: Complete the sentences using the words from

the word bank and your memory skills from reading or

listening to A Chair for my Mother, by Vera B. Williams.

E R C O I N S F W S U I

Q T H A N K F U L H W P

K B A S U N C L E O M N

U Q I L P F S L F P S L

W T R E W S I T R P I N

E J I E Q F T R W I S I

Q P A P A R T M E N T P

B L B R S W I Y H G E N

U A U Y W I N D O W R L

W R N A W S G E M P T Y

W R T K I N D N E S S K

M E R W Y U P O K N E R

1. Mama puts her change from ___________ into our money __________ each night

when she comes home.

2. When our jar is full of ____________ , we are going to buy a _____________ with all

of the money we collect.

3. All of the furniture in our _____________ burned in a big ___________ .

4. We stayed with my mother’s _____________ , Aunt Ida, and ______________ Sandy,

Ida’s husband, because we didn’t have a home.

5. We moved into a new __________________ where the rooms were very __________ .

6. We were very ___________________ for all of the _________________ that so many

people shared.

7. After a year, our jar became ___________ of coins, so we rolled

all of the money into little paper wrappers and took them to the ___________ .

8. We went _______________ for a chair in four stores

and finally found a beautiful one to put next to the _________________ .

9. When Mama and I are ________________ in the chair together, I fall ______________

in her lap sometimes.

K-2 Unit 2

11


Unit 2, Lesson 2: Filling Our Own Jars

Teacher Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Class Time: one hour

Materials needed:

• A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

• a large jar to hold small objects

• a large bag of cereal O’s or small candy

• calculators for groups or individuals (second grade)

Activity Sheet: Retell A [_____] for My [_____] (if not

used for homework in Lesson 1)

Activity Sheet: Searching for the Right Words (older

students)

Basic Objective: Similar to the way Rosa fills a jar in the

story, students will fill a jar with objects to understand

how long it might have taken to collect enough money to

buy a chair.

Desired Outcomes:

• Students will develop skills of estimation, counting,

place value, and coin recognition.

• Second graders will also develop skills of multiple digit

subtraction and checking accuracy with a calculator.

• Students will understand that many goals require a long

time and a lot of work to accomplish.

Background:

This lesson has students explore a specific aspect of the

story: Rosa’s goal to fill up the jar in order to buy her mother

a chair. It is a concrete example of cause and effect in the

story. Working with this concrete cause and effect

relationship will help students better understand specific

causes and effects related to homelessness.

Suggestions:

1. Review, or have your students complete, the Activity

Sheet, “Retell A [_____] for My [_____]” or the

Activity Sheet, “Searching for the Right Words,” found

in the previous unit.

2.Have the children fill a jar with cereal O’s or other small

objects to see how long and how many it takes to fill a

jar. Talk about how many pennies or coins it must have

taken to buy the chair that Rosa and her mother buy in

the book.

3.Extend this discussion to how much money it takes to

buy the things in our homes — even food. Talk about

how people sometimes do not have enough money to

buy things or do not have enough money to pay rent.

Talk about what “rent” is. Have students think of things

that might make it hard for someone to have enough

money. Examples include: a fire, losing a job, or having

to quit a job to care for a family member.

Academic Extensions:

• This extends beautifully into math lessons on counting,

estimation, place value, and sorting. For example, have

students estimate a full jar of cereal O’s and then count

them in groups, sorting by tens until they reach the

exact amount.

• Have students identify a goal they have, what they

need to do to accomplish it, and how long they think it

would take to achieve it.

Abridged Version:

Have students decide how much money the cereal O’s

represent and how much money Rosa and her family might

put in the jar in a typical week or day. Then put in the cereal

in those increments to see how long it would take to fill it.

Important Terms for Unit 2:

accident: The fire at the start of A Chair for My Mother is an

accident; accidents often lead to hard times in people’s lives,

including losing a home.

cause: This is a central part of this unit, as in the causes of

homelessness, and the cause of the fire in A Chair for My

Mother.

coins: They enable Rosa to buy a chair for her mother.

community: The people in Rosa’s neighborhood are extremely

supportive of her family; they assist them in getting back on

their feet after the fire.

effect: This is also a central part of this unit, as in being

without a home is an effect of the fire, and buying the chair is

the effect of filling up the jar with money.

homeless[ness]: One way to phrase this term is “without a

home,” [or the state of being without a home].

rent: This term will likely come up in Lesson 2; many students

should be familiar with it.

tips: Rosa’s mother works as a waitress so she relies heavily

on tips to earn her money.

Unit 2 K-2

12


Unit 2, Lesson 3: My Favorite Things

Teacher Preparation Time: None

Class Time: one hour

Materials needed:

• paper for each student to paint or draw on

• paint, brushes, markers, crayons, oil pastels, etc.

Activity Sheet: None

Basic Objective: Students will choose the item in their

home that is their favorite and then draw a picture of it.

Desired Outcomes:

• Students will understand the idea of prioritizing and will

develop the skills to do so.

• Students will develop greater empathy for the character

of Rosa.

• Students will improve the motor skills for drawing and

coloring.

Background:

This lesson is another way for students to personalize A

Chair for My Mother. If Rosa were to do this activity at the

end of the story, she would undoubtedly draw a picture of

the big red chair. The activity also ends Unit 2 in a way that

has students think of their own homes and their own living

situations. Finally, this lesson requires that students

consider cause and effect. That is, students must think

about which item in their home causes the most joy and

would cause the most sorrow if they had to leave it behind.

Suggestions:

1. Make a class list of everybody’s favorite piece of

furniture or simply their favorite thing about their

homes.

2.Have each student paint a picture of the thing that

would be missed the most if he or she had to leave their

home or if something happened to the things as in A

Chair for My Mother. For kindergarten and first grade,

the students should write the name of the item that

they have chosen below their displayed paintings.

Second graders should write a sentence about why they

chose the particular item.

3.Display their paintings under the heading, “Special

things in our homes.”

4.Have students think about how they might replace their

items if they had to. Consider items such as stuffed

animals and pictures or special things that may not be

expensive but that are not easily replaced. Discuss what

it would be like for a child their age to not have such

favorite and special things and relate this reality to

being homeless.

Academic Extensions:

• As a class, you can look at everybody’s choices and

categorize them. You can have categories such as

furniture, toys/dolls/stuffed animals, etc. You may

even decide to categorize items by their ability to be

replaced.

• Have each student present their choices to the class,

explaining why the item they’ve chosen is special.

Abridged Version:

Have each student pick an item but not draw it.

Good Discussion Questions for Unit 2:

• Why was Rosa saving her money? [Then, for some

students:] Do you think it was important to actually see

the money in a jar? Why?

• How did Rosa’s family lose their home? [Then, for some

students:] Do you think it matters that the story does not

say how the fire started?

• What did the community do to help out Rosa and her

family?

• How do others lose their homes?

• What is “rent”? How does the price of rent have an effect

on the number of people without homes?

• If you knew someone like Rosa who had few things

because of a fire, do you think you could give that person

one of your favorite stuffed animals or toys?

• What do you think it is like not to have a home?

K-2 Unit 2

13


Unit 3, Lesson 1: How Can I Help?

Background Information for Unit 3

Unit 3 culminates the curriculum. It includes lessons that show students they can do something about

homelessness — even at their young ages. The call to action comes at this stage because students should

now have a greater understanding of the importance of their own homes and the possessions within those homes.

Students should also have empathy for Rosa in A Chair for My Mother, and those feelings of empathy should extend to

real people without homes.

The lessons in this unit demonstrate ways for young children to take a hands-on role in brightening the lives of those

who are without homes. As with the other units, all of these lessons require teacher-led discussion. Unlike other units,

though, Unit 3 includes independent writing suggestions for students. And similar to the other units, all students will

have the opportunity to do other independent work throughout this unit. Teachers may also alter the lessons to be a

group or class project.

Teacher Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Class Time: one hour

Materials Needed:

• Large piece of chart paper

• A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

Activity Sheet: Dear Rosa

Basic Objective: After discussing the ways in which the

community helps Rosa’s family in A Chair for My Mother,

students will write a letter to Rosa.

Desired Outcomes:

• Students will further develop their understanding of

cause and effect relationships, particularly as they

relate to helping others.

• Students will recognize that writing can be an excellent

form of communication.

• Students will think abstractly in writing a letter to a fictional

character.

Background:

As discussed in Unit 2, Rosa’s neighbors pitch in to help out

her family by providing furniture for the family and even a

stuffed animal for Rosa. Students may not have direct

contact with someone like Rosa. This story demonstrates

how young children can assist those without homes —

particularly homeless children.

Suggestions:

1. Use A Chair for my Mother to discuss the ways that the

community helped Rosa, her mother, and her grandmother

replace things lost in the fire.

2.Make a list of the ways that one might help a family fill

or make a home. Encourage students to consider the

things that a mommy would need in a home but a child

would not need, and vise versa.

3.Using the Activity Sheet, write a class letter to Rosa,

trying to comfort her about losing her home. As a class,

decide on the kinds of things that Rosa would like to

hear, then organize those thoughts into a letter. Have

second graders write individual letters.

Academic Extensions:

• You can extend this lesson by having students write letters

to Ms. Williams, the book’s author. Discuss the

kinds of things that students would like Ms. Williams to

know, then have them write the letters.

• You can extend the theme of helping others to include

people who are not necessarily without a permanent

home. How can children help people in their own home?

How do others help students?

Abridged Version:

Assign the Activity Sheet as homework if your students can

write the letter on their own or if you are confident that

adults at home can help children write their letters.

Unit 3 K-2

14


Date _____________

Dear ____________ ,

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

From,

__________________________

K-2 Unit 3

15


Unit 3, Lesson 2: Who Helps?

Teacher Preparation Time: enough time to contact and

arrange for a visitor and to talk with your students about

appropriate behavior when listening to professionals and

visitors

Class Time: one hour

Materials needed:

• self portraits made by each student, or photographs

that they are willing to give away

Activity Sheet: none

Basic Objective: Students will listen to and ask questions

of a visitor from a homeless shelter, soup kitchen or

another organization that works with people who do not

have homes.

Desired Outcomes:

• Students will develop listening skills.

• Students will learn to ask appropriate and respectful

questions.

• Students will participate in communicating with a child

who is without a home.

Background:

Students will benefit from a question and answer session

with someone who works at a homeless shelter, soup

kitchen or an organization such as the Fannie Mae

Foundation. Many times, children will simply want to ask

questions about what it is like to work with those who don’t

have a home and what it is like to be without a home.

Finally, by having someone come into the classroom, you

and your students have the opportunity to begin a pen pal

exchange with a homeless shelter.

Suggestions:

1. Invite someone who works with the homeless community

to visit your class. You will need to hold a discussion

prior to the guest’s arrival about appropriate behavior

and what kinds of questions the visitor might be able to

answer. The visitor can include information about the

Help the Homeless Walkathon at the National Mall on

November 17.

2.Prior to the guest’s visit, have your children make self

portraits or bring in photographs of themselves that

they (and their families!) don’t mind giving away. This

works especially well if the guest is from a homeless

shelter and can take the drawings/photos to children at

the shelter. Ask if children in the shelter would like to

make self portraits to send back. Sometimes a drawing

makes these children “more real.”

3.It is important to make the distinction between having a

family and having a home. Just because children may

not have a permanent home at the moment does not

mean they do not have families.

4.Always remember to write a class thank-you note to the

speaker. Second graders can write individual letters.

Academic Extensions:

• As a class or in cooperative groups, students can create

questions for the visitor prior to his or her visit.

• If possible, your class can take a field trip to a homeless

shelter. While there, students and children at the shelter

can listen to A Chair for My Mother.

Abridged Version:

Rather than having someone come to class, establish

contact with someone at a homeless shelter and send him or

her the drawings/photos of your students.

Important Terms for Unit 3:

aid/assist/help: Any of these similar terms are a central part

of this unit; students should learn that helping others can be

simple.

community: The people in Rosa’s neighborhood assist her

family in getting back on their feet after the fire; students

should understand who and what community is.

diet: Lesson 3 examines our diets, particularly those of

people without homes; some students may mistake the term

to mean a weight-loss regimen.

food pyramid: One activity sheet includes the food pyramid.

health: Due to diets, poor hygiene, and overall poor living

conditions, maintaining good health can be difficult for

people who do not have homes.

homeless shelters/soup kitchens: Lesson 2 involves a

classroom visit from someone who works in a homeless

shelter, a soup kitchen, or another organization that deals

with homelessness.

Unit 3 K-2

16


Unit 3, Lesson 3: Students Help!

Teacher Preparation Time: one hour

Class Time: one hour

Materials needed:

• ingredients to make a snack

• a chart that displays ingredients and measurements

• cooking tools such as bowls, measuring cups, spoons

• access to an oven if the snack requires cooking

Activity Sheet: Food Pyramid +

Basic Objective: Students will prepare a healthy snack for

children who live in a homeless shelter and/or rely on a

soup kitchen for their meals.

Desired Outcomes:

• Students will develop skills of measurement, doubling

or tripling a recipe, and basic multiplication.

• Students will develop interpersonal skills.

• Students will recognize a connection between our health

and the foods we eat.

Background:

This lesson lets students establish contact with children

without homes, and it lets young children do something

about homelessness. You will need to find a snack that your

students (and your facilities) can prepare. Cooking is an

excellent way to connect math and nutrition.

Suggestions:

1. Use the activity sheet to examine nutrition, work with

food groups, and develop math skills. More information

on the Food Guide Pyramid is available at:

http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/Fpyr/pyramid.html

2.Have your students brainstorm snack ideas that your

class can prepare and send to children without a home.

Make a list of the ingredients needed. Plan to prepare

this snack the next day.

Note: Gorp is a great snack. Its basic ingredients are

peanuts, raisins and M&M’s. Other dried fruit, small

marshmallows, nuts, etc. taste good and span more

food groups. Granola is another great snack that is fun

to prepare, but it does require an oven.

3.Organize students into groups. Each group can take a

recipe from start to finish, or each group can be responsible

for one step of a recipe. You might have each

group prepare a different snack. Remember to discuss

the importance of hand washing prior to preparing food.

Also, label the ingredients in case of food allergies.

4.Clean up is a good time to talk about cooperation and

cleanliness. It is also an opportunity to discuss the difficulty

of preparing meals if you don’t have your own

kitchen.

Academic Extensions:

• Use the recipes to demonstrate and develop math skills.

Recipes are also opportunities to learn new words.

• Talk about how each of your students can suggest to

their families that they volunteer at a shelter.

Brainstorm things they could donate to a shelter, such

as clothes and toys that they no longer wear or use.

• Establishing a relationship with a shelter that spans the

school year will help children find other ways to help,

such as sending cards for holidays or birthdays.

Abridged Version:

You can simply have students pick a healthy snack, but not

prepare it.

Good Discussion Questions for Unit 3:

• Why do you think Rosa would like to receive a letter from

you?

• How do you think Rosa is similar to you? What does she

like to do that you also like to do?

• If you could talk to Rosa or a real child without a home,

what would you want to ask?

• What is your community/neighborhood like?

• What is your favorite meal? Why?

• Why do you think it is hard for someone without a home

to eat healthy meals?

• What are some things that people do to keep themselves

healthy?

K-2 Unit 3

17


Activity Sheet: Food Pyramid +

Look at the chart to see how many servings of each group a

person needs every day for good health.

NOT VERY OFTEN

The small tip of the Pyramid shows fats, oils and sweets.

These are foods such as butter, margarine, sugars, soft

drinks, candies, and sweet desserts. Most people

should not eat them very often.

This level has two groups of foods that come

mostly from animals: milk, yogurt, and

cheese; and meat, poultry, fish, dry

beans, eggs, and nuts.

This level includes foods that

come from plants —

vegetables and fruits.

Most people need to

eat more of these

foods than they do.

At the base of the Food Guide Pyramid are breads, cereals, rice and pasta —

all foods from grains. You need the most servings of these foods each day.

— Food Guide Pyramid provided courtesy the USDA

On the back of this page, draw a meal you would provide for a

homeless person who is your age. Then, list the foods you

chose. Be sure the meal has something from every food group!

Unit 3 K-2

18


Unit 3, Lesson 4: ABCs of Homelessness

Teacher Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Class Time: one hour

Materials needed:

• at least 26 sheets of blank paper/small poster board

• markers or crayons

• three-hole puncher

• three-ring notebook

Activity Sheet: “Simple as ABC” (optional)

Basic Objective: Students will create an ABC book and

craft sentences on the subjects of homes and

homelessness—e.g., “A is for Ask. Ask a homeless shelter

if there is anything that you and your family can give.”

Desired Outcomes:

• Students will build spelling and writing skills.

• Students will connect visual images to words.

• Students will recognize that people can take certain

actions to help people without homes.

Background:

This lesson serves as a good conclusion to Unit 3 (as well as

to all three units). It provides students with a creative way

to demonstrate their knowledge of homes and

homelessness. Because the activity contains a sheet with

suggestions for each letter of the alphabet, you have some

flexibility in challenging students — i.e., students can come

up with the word and sentence for each letter on their own,

or students can transcribe the sentences supplied on the

activity sheet. All students will contribute artwork to each

page of the alphabet book.

sure to go over some examples to show how an alphabet

book can relate to homes and homelessness.

3.Divide the class into pairs or small groups and assign

letters to each. Pairs should probably be responsible for

only one letter. Small groups can take on more than one

letter. Go around the room to make sure the words and

sentences make sense and prompt students to improve

their work when necessary.

4. Have students write out their sentences on sheets of

paper and encourage them to add artwork to the page.

Coming up with visual representations for some of the

sentences may be too abstract an exercise for some

students, so you may need to help them come up with

ideas on what to draw.

5. Have students share their pages with the rest of the

class. After sharing their pages, students should use

the three-hole puncher and add their pages to the

book.

Academic Extensions:

• Have students use a dictionary and challenge them to

learn a new word that starts with their assigned letters.

• Contact a local shelter and ask a representative from the

shelter to come to the class to accept the alphabet book

as a gift. Make sure that students present the book and

explain the assignment.

Abridged Version:

Eliminate the artwork part of the assignment. Instead, have

students form sentences and write them out in large

lettering.

Suggestions:

1. Ask students to describe an alphabet book. It is a good

idea to have some specific examples on hand, particularly

an alphabet book with an obvious theme — e.g.,

Graeme Base’s Animalia. Ask students what each letter

has in common.

2. Introduce the idea of creating an alphabet book on homes

and homelessness. Your introduction and your assignment

to students will depend on how much independence

you want students to exercise in creating the book. If

students will create their own words and sentences, be

K-2 Unit 3

19


Simple as ABC

A is for Attend. Homeless children attend school less often than children with homes.

A is for Afford. Many people work but still cannot afford to pay for a home.

B is for Breakfast. Many people without a home are unable to have a nutritious breakfast.

B is for Baby. Sometimes a mother and her baby have no home.

C is for Cooking. Sometimes people without a home rely on shelters for cooking meals.

C is for Child. One out of every four people without a home is a child.

D is for Donate. Donate coats and clothes to a charity organization.

D is for Depend. Many homeless shelters depend on volunteers.

E is for Eat. People without a home need a nice place to eat a meal.

E is for Employed. Many people without a home are employed.

F is for Food. Food can be hard to find when you live on the street.

F is for Family. Family can provide a place to live, but not everyone has family to go to.

G is for Grateful. Many people without a home are grateful for the food and clothes that

people give them.

G is for Give. Encourage people you know to give their old clothes to charity

organizations.

H is for Hotel. In some places old hotels serve as homes for people in danger of being

homeless.

H is for Home. Everyone needs a home.

I is for Invite. Invite a person from a homeless organization to teach your class about

homelessness.

I is for Icy. Icy nights endanger people who don’t have the protection of a home.

J is for Job. Many people lose their homes when they lose their jobs.

J is for Juice. The juice you drink has vitamins that many homeless people need.

K is for Kin. People who lose their home often turn to kin to take them in.

K is for Kind. Helping people in need is a kind thing to do.

L is for Look. Look for opportunities to help others.

L is for Long. A cold night without a place to sleep is a long night.

Unit 3

20


M is for Many. Many people without a home have a job.

M is for Money. People need money to pay rent for a place to live.

N is for Nine. The average age of a homeless person in Washington, D.C., is nineyears-old.

N is for Night. People without a home have to find a place to sleep every night.

O is for Open. Homeless shelters can be full, so they are not always open to everyone

who needs them.

O is for Organize. Anyone can organize a drive to collect supplies for a homeless shelter.

P is for Poor. People living on the street often have poor health.

P is for Park. Some people without a home sleep in a public park.

Q is for Quest. Helping the homeless is a quest for some people who really care about it.

Q is for Quickly. People can quickly be without a home after they lose a job.

R is for Rent. Many people with homes pay rent in order to live in their home.

R is for Ran. Many young people without homes ran away from home.

S is for Safe. Living on the street is not very safe.

S is for Sick. Homeless children get sick more often than children who live in homes.

T is for Terrible. It can be terrible not having a place to call home.

T is for Try. Try to think of ways to help people without a home.

U is for Unhealthy. Many people without a home are unhealthy.

U is for Under. Many people without a home sleep under a tree.

V is for Veteran. Veterans served in the military, and many of them are homeless.

V is for Victory. One day we hope to declare victory over homelessness.

W is for Watch. Watch out for ways to help homeless people.

W is for Weather. Having a home protects us from bad weather.

X is for X-ray. People without a home don’t get medical care, like checkups and X-rays.

Y is for Young. One out of four people without a home is a young person.

Y is for Yes. Yes, you can make a difference.

Z is for Zero. Is it possible that one day the number of people without a home will be zero?

K-2 Unit 3

21


3–5


Unit Structure

Each unit will focus on a particular theme.

In order to bring out that theme, each unit has:

• A two-page written piece for you to photocopy for your students

• An assessment modeled after Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., tests

• A suggested pre-reading activity

• A suggested post-reading activity with cross-curricular modifications

• Writing prompts

• Background teacher support Information

Please note that this curriculum was designed so that Units 1,2 and 3 flow in a

natural order. Each unit is completely self-contained; however, you will have the

greatest impact by completing each unit in order.


Unit 1: Understanding that there are people without homes

Content Piece —Shoniqua’s Experience is a real first-person account by an 11-year-old name Shoniqua Williams, who was

without a home when she was in third grade. By giving students an emotional tie to one person, the content piece will

encourage students to think about their own homes and what it must be like to be without

a home.

Activity 1— Students in cooperative groups will “build” a home out of descriptions. The

primary objective of this activity is to have students think about the many reasons having

a home is important.

Activity 2 (New!)— Students will write a letter to Shoniqua Williams, the author of

Shoniqua’s Experience. In the letters, they will share their own experiences and thoughts

as well as seek an update on how things are going for Shoniqua now that she lives in

permanent housing. After students write their letters, you will lead a discussion on the

importance of permanent housing.

Activity Modifications — Math classes can create 3-D homes out of geometric shapes. Social Studies classes can also

construct a home out of words that describe the homes of people relevant to a particular geographic or historic setting.

State standards met with this unit

WASHINGTON, DC:

The content standards listed are those for which Performance Standards AND Essential Skills are met, in part, through completion

of the unit. However, any additional content standards met through the unit’s activity modifications ARE NOT included.

3rd grade Language Arts— Standards 1, 2, 3, 4; Social Studies— Standards 3, 4, 7

4th grade Language Arts— Standards 1, 2, 3, 4

5th grade Language Artss— Standards 1, 2, 3, 4

MARYLAND:

Maryland standards indicate what students should know and be able to do by the end of fifth grade. Divided by subject, the areas listed below

indicate the standards that are part of this unit. However, additional standards met through the unit’s academic

extensions ARE NOT included.

Language Arts— Reading; Literature; Language; Listening; Speaking

Social Studies— Social Studies Skills; Economics

VIRGINIA:

The Standards of Learning (SOLs) listed are those that are met, in part, through completion of the unit. However, any additional SOLs met

through the unit’s activity modifications ARE NOT included.

3rd grade English— Oral: 3.1, 3.2; Reading: 3.3, 3.4, 3.6

4th grade English— Oral: 4.1, 4.2; Reading: 4.3, 4.5

5th grade English— Oral: 5.1, 5.3; Reading: 5.4, 5.6

3-5 Unit 1

23


Unit 2: Understanding the causes of homelessness

Content Piece— ”Food for Thought” is a fictional first-person account from a 13-year-old boy who

volunteers at a soup kitchen and encounters a handful of people whose reasons for being without a

home all differ. The specific circumstances will give students concrete information that serves as a

basis for understanding the general issues surrounding homelessness.

Activity 1— Students in cooperative groups will create ledgers, with visual representations for

“Causes” of homelessness on one side and visual representations for the “Effects” of homelessness

on the other side. The primary objective of this activity is for students to develop a stronger

understanding of how the concept of cause and effect works.

Activity 2 (New!) — Students will create an alternative ending to the fairy tale The Three Little Pigs,

imagining that all three pigs are left homeless as a result of the wolf’s huffing and puffing.

Activity Modifications— Science classes can use the ledgers to examine the different effects that seasons of the year (and

weather in general) have on those without homes. To increase the activity’s health focus, students can use the ledgers to

examine the effects that being without a home can have on a person’s health.

State standards met with this unit

WASHINGTON, DC:

The content standards listed are those whose Performance Standards AND Essential Skills are met, in part, through completion

of the Unit. However, any additional content standards met through the unit’s activity modifications ARE NOT included.

3rd grade Language Arts—Standard 1, 2, 3, 4; Social Studies—Standards 2, 3, 4, 7

4th grade Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4

5th grade Language Arts—Standard 1, 2, 3, 4

MARYLAND:

Maryland standards indicate what students should know and be able to do by the end of fifth grade. Divided by subject area, the numbers

listed below indicate the standards that are part of this unit. However, additional standards met through the unit’s academic extensions ARE

NOT included.

Language Arts— Reading; Literature; Writing; Language; Listening; Speaking

Social Studies— Social Studies Skills; Geography; Economics

VIRGINIA:

The Standards of Learning (SOLs) listed are those that are met, in part, through completion of the unit. However, any additional SOLs met

through the unit’s activity modifications ARE NOT included.

3rd grade English— Oral: 3.1; Reading: 3.3, 3.4, 3.5; Writing: 3.8

4th grade English— Oral: 4.1; Reading: 4.3, 4.4

5th grade English— Oral: 5.1; Reading: 5.4, 5.5; Writing: 5.8

Unit 2 3-5

24


Unit 3: Recognizing that we can do something to address homelessness

Content Piece— A series of graphic representations cover statistics and facts about homelessness and issues

related to homelessness. Once students have developed an emotional tie to someone without a home

(Unit 1) and have developed a better understanding of the causes and effects of homelessness (Unit 2),

the statistics and facts will have much greater meaning for them.

Activity 1— Students will work in cooperative groups to create ways to promote the Help the Homeless Walkathon at school,

at home, and in their neighborhoods. The primary objective of this activity is to build awareness of and excitement about

the Walkathon.

Activity 2 (New!)— Students will survey people at home (and perhaps in the community) to measure understanding of

homelessness, eventually crafting plans to build awareness of the issues surrounding homelessness – especially issues of

affordable housing, job training, and job preparation.

Activity Modifications — All content areas can tie the problem-solving focus of the activity to content-specific material. To

add a greater math emphasis, students can look at different Walkathon participation scenarios and figure out how many

people might take part in each.

State standards met with this unit

WASHINGTON, DC:

The content standards listed are those for which Performance Standards AND Essential Skills are met, in part, through completion

of the unit. However, any additional content standards met through the unit’s activity modifications ARE NOT included.

3rd grade Language Arts— Standards 1, 2, 4; Math— Standards 1, 2, 3; Social Studies— Standards 2, 3, 4, 7

4th grade Language Arts— Standards 1, 2, 4; Math— Standards 1, 2, 3

5th grade Language Arts— Standards 1, 2, 4; Math— Standards 1, 2, 3

MARYLAND:

Maryland standards indicate what students should know and be able to do by the end of fifth grade. Divided by subject area, the areas listed

below indicate the standards that are part of this unit. However, additional standards met through the unit’s academic extensions ARE NOT

included.

Language Arts— Reading; Language; Writing; Listening; Speaking

Math— Algebra; Statistics; Probability; Number Relationships

Social Studies— Social Studies Skills; Geography; Economics

VIRGINIA:

The Standards of Learning (SOLs) listed are those that are met, in part, through completion of the unit. However, any additional SOLs met

through the unit’s activity modifications ARE NOT included.

3rd grade English— Oral: 3.1, 3.2; Reading: 3.7; Writing: 3.8, 3.10, 3.11

Math— Number Sense: 3.5, 3.6; Computation: 3.8, 3.10; Probability: 3.22; Patterns: 3.24

4th grade English— Oral: 4.1, 4.2; Reading: 4.5, 4.6; Writing: 4.7, 4.8

Math— Number Sense: 4.2, 4.3; Computation: 4.8, 4.10; Probability: 4.18; Patterns: 4.21, 4.22

5th grade English— Oral: 5.1, 5.3; Reading: 5.6, 5.7; Writing: 5.8, 5.9

Math— Computation: 5.3, 5.7; Probability: 5.18

3-5 Unit 3

25


Unit 1 — Understanding that there are people without homes

Content Piece: “Shoniqua’s Experience”

Background on “Shoniqua’s Experience”

This is Shoniqua Williams’ firsthand account of what it has

been like to be without a home. She is a young girl from

Richmond, Virginia, who has not had permanent housing

since 1997, when her father left the family. The first year

without a home was particularly

difficult for Shoniqua, her mother and

her younger sister because they lived

in two different states. During that

time, Shoniqua attended three

different schools. Shoniqua admits

that she misbehaved in class and

bullied others. She tells readers that

her actions were part of her “tough

girl” image. In reality, her situation

hurt and confused her. Today, she is

active in school and has received an

award for perfect attendance. She is

extremely optimistic about her

future.

A first-person account like this has a

high likelihood of hooking students

into caring about homelessness,

which will lead them to wanting to

learn more. By giving students an

emotional tie to one person, “Shoniqua’s Experience” will

encourage students to think about their own homes and

what it must be like not to have a home.

Skills Developed in this Unit:

self-analysis; interpersonal skills;

descriptive writing; comparing and

contrasting; working in the abstract;

understanding cause and effect; literacy

fluency and comprehension

Desired Outcomes

Students will:

• recognize that homes come in many

different forms

• analyze what makes having a home

special and important

• understand that there are people

who do not have homes

• develop empathy for those who do

not have homes

Suggestions for “Shoniqua’s Experience”

Before reading “Shoniqua’s Experience”, briefly survey your

students. Ask them if they know what the term

homelessness” means. Seek out at least a few

explanations. After students have come up with a working

definition for “homelessness,” ask them to define “home.”

Encourage them to provide examples of homes. Try to keep

the discussion minimal, but you may

need to draw out some additional

examples.

The way in which you have students

read “Shoniqua’s Experience” may

depend on how you choose to use the

assessment that is provided.

If you want to simulate a

standardized testing format, you

should simply photocopy “Shoniqua’s

Experience” and its assessment and

have students answer the questions

as they read.

If an exact simulation is not

important, read “Shoniqua’s

Experience” as a class. Reading it

together will allow you to answer

questions (or have other students try

to answer questions!) that may come

up while reading. Further, you can discuss the Guided

Reading Questions that appear in the text. There may be a

little overlap with some of the questions that appear on the

assessment, but the assessment will still be an effective

measure of comprehension, as well as an effective test

preparation tool.

Discussion Questions:

• Do you ever think about how important having a home is?

• Did you know that there are people who do not have any place to call home?

• If you were Shoniqua’s friend and you found out that she did not have a home, what would you say to her? What would you do?

• Why do you think homes come in so many different sizes and styles?

• Do you think about your home any differently now that you’ve read Shoniqua’s story and/or drawn a home using descriptions?

Unit 1 3-5

26


Post-Reading Activity: “Home Builder”

Objective: In cooperative groups, students will

understand the importance of having a home through

“building” a home with adjectives and other

descriptions.

Time: 15 – 30 minutes

Materials: paper and pencil (optional materials) colored

markers/pencils, stick outline of a home

Background: Students “build

a home” through

descriptions. That is, have

students build a stickfigured

home in which they

write something that

describes a home on each

line in the figure. This is an

excellent activity for

students to work on

vocabulary and to develop a

better understanding of

adjectives. And in the process of doing so, students will

think about the many ways in which having a home is

important — many of which students may have taken for

granted. The activity can also encourage students to

consider and analyze different forms that homes come in.

Overall, the activity will reinforce the difficulty of living

without a home.

Suggestions:

safe

little

1. Before students plug in their descriptions to the figures,

have them brainstorm and list of as many descriptions

as they can think of. This can be a free-association

exercise.

2.Have students organize their descriptions. In one way,

they can group any descriptions that are essentially

synonyms. (In some cases there may be antonyms,

e.g., “big” and “cramped” — depending on students’

experiences.) Additionally, students can categorize

descriptions into groups like: physical structure (brick,

two-storied, roomy) and general feeling (cozy, safe,

personal).

3.Have groups create multiple types of dwellings whose

descriptions may be similar or different from one

another. For example, drawings can be a house (big

and/or small) or an apartment (big and/or small

building). You can ask each group to create multiple

versions or assign a different version to each group and

compare them.

4.Have students create additions beyond the basic roof,

walls, door, window construction, so they can add more

descriptions.

5.Have each group present their homes and their descriptions

to the rest of the class. You can create one classroom

version that includes all of the descriptions.

Modifications for “Home Builder”

Math: Have students create three-dimensional homes. You

can have students divide their homes into geometric shapes

that make up the home. For example the roof can be a

triangle and the base can be a square or a rectangle.

Social Studies: Homes are a window to people living in a

different time and/or place. Have students describe (and

draw a figure of) a home that is typical to the geographic or

historic setting that is the focus of your study right now.

Important Terms

charity: [defined in the student glossary] Many without homes

rely on charity to help them; at the same time, some people like

Shoniqua don’t like to accept charity.

homelessness: Obviously this is an important term throughout

the curriculum.

income: Shoniqua does not mention this term specifically;

however, implied in her account is the fact that her father’s

departure left the family without enough income to enjoy permanent

housing.

permanent housing: The student glossary defines “permanent,”

and this term is the goal that Shoniqua hopes her family is able

to achieve in the next year.

pride: [defined in the student glossary] Shoniqua says that her

pride made it difficult for her to admit that her family had no

permanent housing.

stereotypes: Shoniqua never mentions stereotypes, but they

may come up in discussion in the context of there being stereotypes

of those who are homeless — perhaps Shoniqua’s story

helps shatter prevailing stereotypes that students have.

3-5 Unit 1

27


Shoniqua’s Experience

My name is Shoniqua Williams. I am 11 years old, in the 6th grade, and I attend

Moody Middle School in Richmond, Virginia.

In 1997, changes in my family when my dad left caused my mom, younger sister and

me to become homeless. During this time, I was confused, disappointed in myself,

and embarrassed. In the 3rd grade, I was mainly on the road. I lived in 2 states and

attended 3 different elementary schools in one year.

While trying to keep up with schoolwork, I didn’t have

time for my friends. With the little time I had, I hid

behind those friends, and didn’t show my true feelings.

Instead of showing the real me, I hid behind my “tough girl” image, and bullied

younger kids to make myself feel and look better. In the classroom, I was a class

clown, and though I was an excellent learner, I was horrible with my behavior. Most of

Two times Shoniqua writes that

she was disappointed in herself.

Why do you think she felt that way?

those feelings were related to being disappointed in

myself. I was confused. I didn’t know what to do. I cried

at night.

In the beginning, it seemed like a game. It became real when

my family and I were living in a transitional housing

program, and I had a friend over to spend the night. I

told her that the whole cottage was our house instead

of the one room that we were actually living in. The

next day when she found out the truth, I realized how

painful the truth can be. I also didn’t want my friends

to know because I didn’t want their pity. I admit that I

have lots of pride and do not like to

accept charity.

How I overcame the situation was with my family, my love of

music, and with my faith in God. Right now, in my life, I am

Shoniqua’s father left the family.

Who lived with Shoniqua after

her father left?

Shoniqua didn’t tell

the truth. How was

she dishonest?

Unit 1 3-5

28


closer with my mom, and I am still getting closer with

my dad. We are working on obtaining permanent

housing, and our plan is to move this summer.

I am doing well in school. My team and I placed

second in Henrico County in the Battle of the

Books. I was a Safety Patrol monitor and received

Perfect Attendance Awards. I am active in drama and

enjoy singing. My career goals are to get a Ph.D. in

zoology, and a master’s degree in

the performing arts. I know that these goals will be met

because of all the obstacles we have overcome.

I have one last thing I want the world to know about homelessness. It is that it is not

the person’s fault. It is not a choice — it just comes, and if we work together, we can

overcome homelessness.

Shoniqua says that people don’t

choose to be homeless.

Why do you think it is important

for people to know that

it is not a choice?

How can you tell that

Shoniqua is now doing better

in school?

— Shoniqua’s essay is reprinted with permission from

www.nationalhomeless.org — the website of the National Coalition for the

Homeless.

GLOSSARY

bullied – picked on someone weaker or younger

charity – helping people by donating money or doing work for free

cottage – small house

disappointed – feeling as though things did not turn out as well as you had hoped

master’s degree – award given by a university to a person who completes certain advanced classes at that

university; a person works for a master's degree after finishing a first set of regular university classes

monitor – student who helps out at school or in the classroom

overcame –made it through a difficult situation successfully

permanent – staying the same

pity – feeling sorry or sad for someone who is in trouble or in a bad situation

pride – a high sense of oneself

Ph.D. – the highest award given by a university to someone who has completed many years of extra studies

transitional housing program – a temporary place for someone to stay while they look for a new home

zoology – study of animals

WRITING PROMPT

Shoniqua told a lie, and her friend found out about it. Many stories have characters who are caught being dishonest.

Write about a time you or someone you know was dishonest and then someone else found out about it.

3-5 Unit 1

29


Shoniqua’s Experience

1. Shoniqua’s father left her family when she was in 3rd grade. How could that lead to her family

becoming homeless?

a) Her father owned their home, and he made the others leave without any warning.

b) Her father probably worked, and the money he earned allowed them to have a home.

c) Shoniqua’s mom was mad at her husband, and her temper caused her to lose her job.

d) Shoniqua’s father was the one without a home; Shoniqua had a home the whole time.

2. Who lived with Shoniqua after her father left?

a) her mom and her sisters

b) her mom and grandparents

c) her mom and younger sister

d) her mom and older sister

3. Why does Shoniqua become a discipline problem at school and hide her “real” self?

a) because her teachers did not care that she was a discipline problem

b) because she was a discipline problem who hid her “real” feelings

c) because she did not want people to notice her, so she behaved well

d) because she wanted others to think of her as tough, not as homeless

4. Shoniqua didn’t tell the truth. How was she dishonest?

a) She was really a nice girl but acted tough to get attention.

b) She told a friend that an entire house belonged to her family.

c) She had poor classroom behavior and was in trouble a lot.

d) She became the tough girl and bullied some younger kids.

5. How do readers know Shoniqua is doing better in school?

a) She is closer with her mom, and they are looking for permanent housing.

b) She is closer with her dad, and they are looking for permanent housing.

c) She is involved with school activities and received a perfect attendance award.

d) She has received a Ph.D. in zoology and a master’s degree in performing arts.

6. Two times Shoniqua says she is disappointed in herself. Why do you think she felt that way?

a) because she acts badly at school and that’s not the “real” Shoniqua

b) because she feels responsible for her family being homeless

c) because she feels responsible for her dad leaving the family

d) because she went to three different elementary schools in two states

Unit 1 3-5

30


Shoniqua’s Experience — Answer Key

1. Shoniqua’s father left her family when she was in 3rd grade. How could that lead to her family becoming

homeless? b) Her father probably worked, and the money he earned allowed them to have a home. —

Although Shoniqua doesn’t state it explicitly, she does mention that “changes that happened in my family

when my dad left caused [us] to become homeless.” The father was the one who left, so he didn’t throw

them out as is suggested in choice a. Choice c is possible but nothing hints at that.

2. Who lived with Shoniqua after her father left? c) Her mom and younger sister — The second paragraph

says, “caused my mom, younger sister and me to be homeless ...” Some students may pick choice a if

they don’t read carefully, but Shoniqua does not have more than one sister.

3. Why does Shoniqua become a discipline problem at school and hide her “real” self? d) because she

wanted others to think of her as tough, not as homeless — She does not state directly why she acted this

way, but she does say that she acted tough. Choice a seems unlikely because teachers usually care about

discipline problems. Choice b simply restates the question and does not answer it. Choice c says that

Shoniqua behaved well, which is not true.

4. Shoniqua didn’t tell the truth. How was she dishonest? b) She told a friend that an entire house belonged

to her family. — She uses the term “cottage” instead of house, but this is clearly how she was dishonest

because her family lived in transitional housing and lived in only one room of the cottage. The other

choices are true statements, but they don’t address the question of how Shoniqua was dishonest.

5. How do you know Shoniqua is doing better in school? c) She is involved with school activities and

received a perfect attendance award. — She says, “I am doing well in school.” But since that is not one of

the answer choices, students should be able to tell that her activities and attendance are evidence that

she is doing better in school.

6. Two times Shoniqua says she is disappointed in herself. Why do you think she was disappointed in

herself? a) because she acts badly at school and that’s not the “real” Shoniqua — She is disappointed in

herself because she knew she was not acting like she should. She says “Instead of showing the real me, I

hid behind my ‘tough girl’ image and bullied younger kids to make myself look and feel better.”

3-5 Unit 1

31


Post-Reading Activity: “Letter to Shoniqua”

Objective: Students will write a letter to Shoniqua

Williams, the author of Shoniqua’s Experience, to share

their own experiences and thoughts as well as to get an

update on how things are going for Shoniqua now that

she has found permanent housing. After students write

their letters, you will lead a discussion on the importance

of permanent housing.

Time: 20–30 minutes

Materials: paper and pencil

Optional materials: markers/colored pencils

Background:

It has been a few years since Shoniqua

Williams wrote about her experiences

of being without a home when she was

in elementary school and middle

school. At the time she wrote the

essay, Shoniqua was hoping to move

into permanent housing. This activity

is an opportunity for students to

reflect on their own housing situations

(as elementary students) by writing to

Shoniqua. In their letters, students can share some

information about their own homes — e.g., describe their

homes and point out what they like and dislike about their

homes. (In some cases, students may also share their own

experiences of being without permanent housing.)

Additionally, students should be able to think specifically

about what kinds of questions to ask and what kinds of

information to share. The process of thinking about the

letter’s content should help students empathize with

Shoniqua. And finally, by having (or gaining) a sense of the

importance of permanent housing to Shoniqua and to

themselves, students will likely develop a better

understanding of the importance of permanent housing to

everyone.

Suggestions:

1. Ask students if they think Shoniqua was correct in

predicting that her family would obtain permanent

housing. After students share some answers, tell them

that Shoniqua wrote the essay a few years ago and that

her family did end up living in permanent housing.

2. Ask students what they would want to know about

Shoniqua now that a few years have passed and ask

them to share some of their ideas.

3. After telling students that they are going to write

letters to Shoniqua, ask them to reflect on what kind of

information they would like to share with Shoniqua

about their own homes. This information, along with the

information that they would like Shoniqua to share,

should go into their letters.

4. Give students at least 10 minutes to think about and

compose their letters.

5. Allow students to share their letters with their classmates.

It’s important to note, however,

that in sharing their letters,

some students may reveal sensitive

information about themselves. If

someone shares information about

being without a permanent home, try

to use that important opportunity to

help students learn.

6. Once students have shared some

of their questions for Shoniqua and

personal experiences in their letters,

broaden the discussion to include

the importance of affordable, permanent housing. That

is, ask students why affordable permanent housing is so

important on an individual level as well as on a broader

level. The discussion should include defining “affordable

permanent housing” and different types of permanent

housing (apartment, house, etc.).

7. Send the letters to Shoniqua.

Modifications for “Letter to Shoniqua”

Art: Have students draw pictures that represent themselves

and/or their homes and include the pictures in their letters.

Abridged Version:

Compose one letter from the whole class.

Unit 1 3-5

32


Unit 2 — Understanding the causes of homelessness

Content Piece: “Food for Thought”

Background on “Food for Thought”

This is a narrative account of one young teen’s experience

working at a soup kitchen called Food for You. The story is

fictional but is presented in first-person, so it seems as

though it could be a real account of a person’s first day

volunteering at a soup kitchen. His

account focuses on people he

encounters. This presentation should

give students specific stories that

illustrate the many causes of

homelessness.

Jeff is the person with whom the

narrator spends most of his time

because both are the same age and

have the same interests. Each person

the narrator encounters has different

reasons for being without a home.

Jeff’s family spent a lot of money on

his mother’s cancer treatments; Julio

was recently laid-off; Maggie is a

recent widow with a mental disability;

Paul has an alcohol addiction; Bridget

has fled her abusive boyfriend. By the

end of his first day, the narrator

concludes he “could be Jeff.” He also

knows he will return to spend more time working and

hanging out with those who need the soup kitchen.

Skills Developed in this Unit:

understanding cause and effect;

interpersonal skills; comparing and

contrasting; working with charts;

working in the abstract; literacy

fluency and comprehension

Desired Outcomes

Students will:

• recognize that homelessness comes

in many different forms

• analyze what can cause someone to

be without a home

• understand that there are people

who need housing assistance

• develop empathy for those who do

not have homes

Suggestions for “Food for Thought”

Before reading “Food for Thought,” ask students to recall

why Shoniqua (from Unit 1) is without a permanent home.

They will likely say it’s because her father left the family

and because they cannot afford a home. Next, ask students

to list reasons why others might be without a home.

Whether you list these other reasons as a class or have

students write them down, encourage

students to explain how a reason they

cite can lead to homelessness. Keep the

discussion brief.

If you want to simulate a standardized

testing format, you should simply

have students read Food for Thought

and answer the assessment questions

as they read. The assessment answer

key provides detailed explanations for

each question.

If an exact simulation is not

important, read “Food for Thought” as

a class. Reading it together will allow

you to answer questions (or have

students answer questions!) that may

come up while reading. Further, you

can discuss the Guided Reading

Questions that appear in the text.

Discussion Questions:

• Have you ever seen people whom you thought were without a home or whom someone told you didn’t have a home? How did it

make you feel?

• Why do you think that many people who go to soup kitchens do not have a permanent home?

• What do you think people would do if there were no places like Food for You available to them?

• Who in the story would you be most interested in meeting? Explain.

• Think about the statement: There are many reasons why someone might be without a home. What does that statement mean?

3-5 Unit 2

33


Post-Reading Activity: “Let It Flow”

Objective: In cooperative groups students will create

ledgers using visual representations and/or words for

Causes on one side and for their Effects on the other side.

Time: 30 – 60 minutes

Materials: paper and pencil

Optional Materials: markers/colored pencils, poster

board, images from magazines

In groups students create Cause and Effect ledgers, using

words and/or images to present causes and effects. It

involves students writing “Cause” on one side of the chart

and “Effect” on the other. Students can use notebook paper

or something bigger. The activity helps students develop a

stronger understanding of

how cause and effect

CAUSE EFFECT work, specifically as

cause/effect applies to

homelessness. Eventually

students will create ledgers on homelessness, based on the

people described in “Food for Thought.”

Suggestions:

1. Model ledgers for students. Use causes and effects

related to topics that students will be interested in and

understand without too much mental processing of

information. You can work from both sides of the ledger,

i.e., list an effect and come up with different causes

and vice versa. Effects might be: (adjectives) tired,

wet, scared, (states) in darkness, with a cast/stitches.

Causes might be: anger, careless, receiving a good

grade.

2.Have students create similar ledgers on their own. They

can use words and/or draw or cut out pictures to represent

the causes and effects on their ledgers.

3.Using the ledgers you modeled, switch the central cause

or effect you used to the other side of the chart. For

example, what effects does being wet or having a cast

cause? What causes might create the effect of anger?

Or what causes might make it so someone receives a

good grade?

4.Have students do the same thing with their ledgers.

5.Using the examples in “Food for Thought,” as a class

create a ledger that shows causes of homelessness.

Then use homelessness as a cause for different effects.

6.Display ledgers throughout the class.

Modifications for “Let It Flow”

Science: Weather and seasonal changes are ripe with cause

and effect relationships, e.g. rain’s effect on plant life,

autumn’s effect on trees, etc. Create cause/effect ledgers

that focus on weather conditions and seasonal changes.

Health: Students can use the ledgers to examine the health

effects on being without a home. At the same time, students

may be able to examine some of the health causes for

homelessness — e.g., emotional/mental/physical

disabilities, drug or alcohol dependency.

Abridged Version: Model a ledger and then create a ledger

on homelessness.

Important Terms

alcoholic: The story’s narrator meets an alcoholic. The content

piece does not detail what can cause someone to be an

alcoholic, but instead describes a few symptoms.

expenses: Housing costs are included in expenses, but it is

often other expenses that make people unable to afford

housing; plus, soup kitchens are available for those who can’t

afford food, another expense.

insurance: Health insurance is defined in the glossary; not

having insurance (of many kinds — fire, flood, homeowners,

renters) can cause someone to lose a home.

mental disability: [defined in the student glossary] One the

person the narrator meets is mentally disabled; students

should recognize causes/effects associated with being

mentally disabled, and that the condition varies in severity.

shelter: [defined in the student glossary] Sometimes soup

kitchens are a part of shelters.

soup kitchen: [defined in the student glossary] It is the

setting of the content piece.

stereotypes: Though students may not know what a stereotype

is, they are probably familiar with examples, including some

associated with homelessness — examples in the content

piece should counter some of the stereotypes.

Unit 2 3-5

34


Food for Thought

Helping to feed some people who don’t have a place to call home

Homeless people don’t have their own places to live. But at the soup kitchen, my friend Jeff showed me that

they’re still people just like anybody else.

I went to the soup kitchen because my parents decided that I needed to

volunteer. They were tired of coming home and finding me watching TV or

playing on the computer. I met some cool people at Food For You (the soup

kitchen). I want to tell you about some of them.

At the soup kitchen: my new friend Jeff

When I walked in, this guy named Jeff Smith showed me around. Jeff and I found out that

we were a lot alike. We were both 13, we both liked baseball, and we loved Harry Potter.

When Jeff said, “Let’s go get some food,” I told him, “Nope, I’m not here to eat. I’m here to

help feed the homeless.” That’s when I found out that Jeff had no home.

I couldn’t believe Jeff didn’t have a place to live. He was too much like me! Jeff said that

his family didn’t have any money because his mom got real sick with cancer. They didn’t

have health insurance, so the family had to pay for the

How can you tell that the

writer is surprised to

find out that Jeff does

not have a home?

treatments with their savings. The doctors made Mrs. Smith

better, but cancer wasn’t cheap! Jeff’s family didn’t have

money anymore.

The Smiths went on welfare, but that wasn’t enough to pay

for a house and food. Apartments cost too much, so they

stayed in shelters. While both of Jeff’s parents worked at the grocery store, they

sent him to the soup kitchen.

Julio has no job

Jeff introduced me to some of the others at Food For You. He pointed at Julio,

who was sitting at a table across the room.

“Hey, what’s up, Julio?” he shouted.

Julio waved and came over to us. He looked older than my parents — I guess he was 50 or 60. Julio had been

out of work ever since he was laid off from his factory job. When he worked, he barely made enough money to

pay for food and rent. He had to go live on the streets when he lost his job because he didn’t have much

money saved up. Julio spent the really cold nights at a shelter, but on warmer nights he slept in the park.

When the writer went to the

soup kitchen, Julio did not have

a job. Why was it important for

Julio to find a new job?

Why do you think that

the writer’s parents

didn’t want him

watching too much TV?

Jeff and I found out we

have a lot in common.

If Jeff’s family did not

have a shelter to live in,

where do you think they

would live?

Maggie alone

I saw a woman pushing a shopping cart. She was dressed in dirty clothes

and she talked to herself under her breath.

I asked Jeff, “What’s the matter with her?”

3-5 Unit 2

35


“Oh Maggie, she’s real nice,” he said as she smiled at him. She’s a little out of it — she’s mentally disabled.

Her husband took care of her when he was around, but when he died, there wasn’t anyone to help her. She

can’t cook, and she doesn’t have a job, so she can’t pay for a place to

live. Maggie just hangs out down here.”

Maggie has a mental handicap.

What things do you think her

husband helped her with when

he was still alive?

Paul has a problem

I was wiping down tables after the meal when a guy almost fell on top of

me. He stumbled off, and Jeff told me about Paul. Paul had been coming

to the soup kitchen for years. He just hangs out by himself, not doing

much of anything. He’s what’s called an alcoholic. That means that he’s almost always drunk, and that means

that nobody will hire him. You see, Paul’s an addict. He can’t stay away from

alcohol even though it’s bad for him. The thing is, Paul looked pretty young. I

sure hope he doesn’t spend the rest of his life like that.

Bruised Bridget

She had a black eye, she had a cut on her lip, and she had a cast on her right

arm. Jeff told me about her. “Bridget’s just started coming here. You see that black eye and the cast?” he

asked. “Her boyfriend beat her up. The police got her away from him, but she has nowhere to go. She just

comes here and sits.”

Could I be Jeff?

Jeff and I sat down together. I had fun talking to him about home runs and Little League. But I couldn’t stop

thinking about the people I’d just met.

How many different people

did the writer meet on his

first day? Whose story

affected you the most?

At 5 o’clock I jumped up and ran to the door. It was time for my parents to

pick me up. Jeff came outside with me.

“Will you be back?” he asked.

“Sure thing. I wouldn’t miss it.” And I meant it.

When I hopped in the car, my parents asked me what I thought about the soup

kitchen. I told them I was really glad the people I met had a place to eat.

But I got quiet as I looked out the window. I couldn’t stop thinking, “I could be Jeff.”

Do you think that Paul

will be able to get help

and stop getting drunk?

How can you tell the

writer’s experience at

the soup kitchen had a

big effect on him?

GLOSSARY

health insurance — a regular monthly payment to an insurance company that agrees to pay for any medical expenses

that come up. If something happens, the insurance company pays for all or most of the doctor bills, and hospital bills.

laid off — fired or asked to retire from a job, usually when a troubled company is looking for ways to save money

mentally disabled — used to describe someone with a condition that makes it difficult to perform regular, daily tasks

savings — money that is put away in a bank account until it is needed

shelters — areas that offer a temporary place to stay to people who don’t have a home

soup kitchen — a place that serves free meals to people without a home or others with little money

welfare — government programs designed to help people who don’t have a job or who don’t make much money

WRITING PROMPT

The writer says that he and Jeff have a lot in common. Have you ever met someone who reminded you of you? What

qualities did the two of you share? Be specific.

Unit 2 3-5

36


Food for Thought

Using the essay, choose the answer which best answers the question.

1. What is a soup kitchen?

a) a place that serves only soup and crackers

b) a place where people can get a free meal

c) a kitchen that’s designed for making soup

d) the name of the place where Jeff works

2. Why do the narrator’s parents not want him to watch too much TV?

a) It costs a lot in electricity to run the TV.

b) There is something they want to watch.

c) He can watch it, but he must wear glasses.

d) They feel it’s not the best use of free time.

3. Why was the narrator surprised that Jeff was homeless?

a) He was younger than the author.

b) He was older than the author.

c) He did not appear to be hungry.

d) He seemed so similar to the author.

4. Why did Paul almost fall on top of the narrator — the person telling the story?

a) He was drunk, which made him have poor balance.

b) The author was cleaning up and the floor was wet.

c) Paul had so much alcohol that he could not see.

d) The author wasn’t watching where he was going.

5. Which person at the soup kitchen had been beaten up?

a) Mrs. Smith

b) Julio

c) Maggie

d) Bridget

6. The narrator explains that Jeff and his parents lived in a shelter. If they didn’t live there,

where do you think they would live?

a) in a fancy hotel

b) on the streets

c) with family

d) with friends

3-5 Unit 2

37


Food for Thought — Answer Key

1. What is a soup kitchen? b) a place where people can get a free meal — If students are completely unfamiliar

with this term, they must use the glossary to answer this question. By saying, “I’m not here to eat,

I’m here to work” in the second paragraph, the narrator provides another clue to what a soup kitchen is.

2. Why do the narrator’s parents not want him to watch too much TV? d) They feel it’s not the best use of

free time. — This answer is not stated explicitly in the text. However, the fact that the parents request he

volunteer his time at a soup kitchen suggests that they feel there are better things he could do with his

time. None of the other choices is implied at all.

3. Why was the narrator surprised that Jeff was homeless? d) He seemed so similar to the narrator. — The

narrator reacts to the fact that he and Jeff are very much alike. They were the same age (13) and liked the

same things (baseball and Harry Potter). Plus, at the end of the article, the narrator even says “I could be

Jeff,” as he realizes that Jeff was just a normal kid from a regular family just like his, and they just had

money troubles because of his mom’s illness.

4. Why did Paul almost fall on top of the narrator — the person telling the story? a) He was drunk, which

made him have poor balance. — Jeff explains to the narrator that Paul is “almost always drunk.” Without

reading carefully, students may choose the other choices, however, because they seem plausible.

5. Which person at the soup kitchen had been beaten up? d) Bridget — The section titled “Bruised Bridget” is

a clue. She is described as having a black eye and a cut on her lip. Jeff tells the author that she had been

beaten up by her boyfriend.

6. The narrator explains that Jeff and his parents live in a shelter. If they didn’t live there, where do you think

they would live? b) on the streets — if Jeff’s family had the option to live in a fancy hotel, with family or

with friends, they would probably already be doing so, as those options would all seem preferable to living

in a shelter.

Unit 2 3-5

38


Post-Reading Activity: “What If All Their

Houses Were Blown Down?”

Objective: As a class or in cooperative groups, students

will create an alternative ending to the fairy tale The

Three Little Pigs, imagining that all three pigs are left

homeless as a result of the wolf’s huffing and puffing.

Time: 45–60 minutes

Materials: paper and pencil

Optional materials: markers/colored pencils, blank

paper/poster board

Background:

The story covered in this unit, “Food for Thought,” provides

some realistic reasons as to why some people end up

without a home, as well as some realistic responses to being

without a home — e.g., using the services of soup kitchens

and shelters. This activity is an opportunity for students to

blend fiction and reality. They will work on the fictional

premise that the characters of The Three Little Pigs are

unable to protect their homes from the big bad wolf and are

left homeless as a result. Students will also need to apply

their knowledge of the kinds of options available to people

without a home. For example, maybe the three pigs go to a

soup kitchen like the one portrayed in “Food for Thought.”

Suggestions:

1. Ask for a volunteer to tell the story of The Three Little

Pigs. Once the student finishes, ask the class if anybody

has anything to add or change about the story.

Once the class is satisfied with the version of the fairy

tale, ask students to identify the story’s themes. In

place of “themes,” you may want to use the term

“lessons” or “moral of the story.”

2. Once you get a consensus on the basic plot and themes

of the story, ask students if they have ever read any

alternative versions. Some good examples are The Three

Pigs by David Wiesner, in which the pigs use a page of

the book to make a paper airplane and fly into other

stories to rescue their characters. Another is The True

Story of the 3 Pigs! by Jon Scieszka, in which the wolf

presents his version of what really happened. Have students

share the basic plots of any of these alternative

versions.

3. If you’re having students work in cooperative groups,

divide them into their assigned groups. Tell students

that they will create their own alternative version of The

Three Little Pigs. Pose the questions: What if the brick

house could not withstand the force of the wolf? What

would happen to the pigs if they were able to escape?

(You should make it clear that the pigs somehow are not

eaten — that the wolf is not a threat!)

4. Challenge students to come up with a list of alternatives

of what might happen. You may need to make it

clear that students should think of the pigs as people,

much like the original fairy tale does — in the story they

talk, they build houses, and do other things people do.

Where would the pigs go? What new set of dangers

would they face if they were left without a home?

5. Ask students to write a new ending for the story. They

should include dialogue much like that in the first part

of the story.

6. Have student groups read their alternative endings to

the story.

Modifications for “What If All Their Houses Were

Blown Down?”

Art: Have students illustrate their alternative endings to the

story.

Science/Social Studies: This activity is an opportunity to

examine some of the natural events — e.g., severe weather,

earthquakes — that can destroy someone’s home. The social

studies addition can examine natural phenomena and the

housing structures in a different part of the world.

Abridged Version:

Complete the activity as an entire class.

3-5 Unit 2

39


Unit 3 — Recognizing that we can do something to address homelessness

Content Piece: “Home for Housing Facts”

Background on “Home for Housing Facts”

These two pages contain facts and statistics that relate to

homelessness. Most have visual representations to help

students better understand them. As a result, the content

piece stresses mathematical literacy, particularly graphic

literacy. Additionally, the statistics

listed are those that are likely to

interest students, in part because

they do not require a great deal of

background knowledge and context

to understand.

Once students have developed an

emotional tie to someone without a

home (Unit 1) and better understand

causes and effects of homelessness

(Unit 2), they will be more eager to

discover the statistics and facts.

Plus, students are now ready to

comprehend and appreciate these

numbers. Knowing the extent of the

problem will compel students to

figure out what they can do about

homelessness.

Skills Developed in this Unit:

understanding cause and effect;

interpersonal skills; comparing and

contrasting; working with graphs and

charts; working with ratios and

percentages; working in the abstract;

brainstorming; prioritizing

Desired Outcomes

Students will:

• recognize that many people need

housing assistance

• analyze specific statistics to

appreciate how many people

struggle to have housing

• understand that there are ways for

people to assist those without homes

• develop a plan for doing something

to help the cause of homelessness

Suggestions for “Home for Housing Facts”

Because this content piece links to the other units, review

the main points from Units 1 and 2 before students look at

“Home for Housing Facts.” You can also have students

predict statistics that are part of this content piece. For

example, ask students to recall the stories of Shoniqua (Unit

1) and Jeff (Unit 2). Then, ask them the number of children

they think are without homes.

Because the statistic about

homelessness and children is

presented as a ratio, say: “For every

ten people who are without a home,

how many of those ten do you think

are kids?” You can also ask students if

they think there are enough homeless

shelters available for people, how

much rent a family like Jeff’s pays,

and even how much of Julio’s money

should go toward rent, so he has

enough left for other things.

To simulate a standardized testing

format, have students use “Home for

Housing Facts” and answer the

assessment questions. The answer

key provides detailed explanations

for each question.

If an exact simulation is not

important, go through each fact,

statistic, graph, and figure as a class. This will allow you to

answer questions (or have other students answer questions)

that come up while going through each item.

Discussion Questions:

• Why is it important to see how many people without homes are children?

• What do you think are some of the worries of homeless people or homeless families?

• Which statistic or fact surprised you the most? Why was it so surprising?

• Like all people, homeless families have physical needs such as water, food and shelter. What do you think are some of the

emotional needs of homeless people?

• What are some ways that people can assist those who are without homes?

Unit 3 3-5

40


Post-Reading Activity: Help the Help the

Homeless Walkathon

Objective: In cooperative groups students will think of

and create ways to promote the Help the Homeless

Walkathon.

Time: 30 – 45 minutes

Materials:

• paper and pen/pencil

• poster board (optional)

• magic markers (optional)

Background:

In groups, students brainstorm

and come up with ways to

promote the Help the Homeless

Walkathon, which takes place on

the National Mall in Washington,

DC, in November. Because this

unit’s objective is to spur action,

this activity provides students

with a concrete plan of action. And by working on ways to

publicize the walkathon, students will be more likely to

participate in it with their families and their classmates.

Plus, students will be part of something special and

important when they help to encourage some of the

thousands of people who take part in the walkathon.

Suggestions:

WE

NEED

YOUR

HELP!

Who: You

What: Help the

Homeless Walkathon

1. Encourage students to think about their target audience.

In order for students to brainstorm how to promote

the Help the Homeless Walkathon, they should

identify whom they want to reach. Discussing commercials

on TV is an excellent way to show students the

importance of knowing your audience. Students should

be able to recognize the relationship between what is

being advertised, how it is being advertised,and when it

is being advertised (time and during which TV show). All

of these choices relate to the target audience. You can

have the same discussion with print ads in magazines.

Students should be able to recognize the relationship

between the typical readers and the ads that appear.

2.Students should follow a problem-solving process similar

to: identify goals and audience, brainstorm ways to

achieve goals/reach audience, pick the most realistic

and effective option(s), make it happen.

3.If your students decide on posters or flyers, ask for permission

to post them throughout the school. Similarly,

students can write copy for the morning/afternoon

announcements.

4.You can also have students simply come up with ideas

on how to promote the Help the Homeless Walkathon,

regardless of whether students can actually do the promotion,

e.g., create a commercial, a web site, etc.

Modifications for this activity

All content areas: Have students apply the same problemsolving

skills and processes to content-specific problems.

Language Arts: Emphasize writing and audience

identification to show the link between the two. This

understanding should carry over to reading both fiction and

nonfiction.

Math: Give students different Help the Homeless Walkathon

scenarios to figure out how many people would take part.

For example, if 30 students from each school in Washington,

DC, participated, how many students would be there? Pick

scenarios that match your students’ abilities.

Abridged: Lead the activity with the entire class.

Important Terms

expenses: Housing costs are included in expenses, but the

other expenses often make people unable to afford housing;

one statistic shows that the recommended amount of income

that should go towards housing is 30%.

housing costs: These are costs associated with paying rent or

paying mortgages.

percentages: Percentages are mentioned in a couple of

places, but the idea behind the percentages is reinforced in

other ways for students who do not understand percentages.

ratios: Many of the statistics are presented as ratios with

visual representations of those ratios; some students may be

able to convert ratios to percentages.

3-5 Unit 3

41


Post-Reading Activity: “Surveying and

Building Awareness”

Objective: Students will survey people at home (and

perhaps in the community) to measure their

understanding of homelessness, with the goal of

eventually crafting plans to build awareness of the issues

surrounding homelessness – especially issues of

affordable housing, job training, and job preparation.

Time: 45–120 minutes (time varies depending on the

number of suggested exercises used)

Materials: paper and pencil, markers/colored pencils,

poster board

Optional materials: tape recorders

Background:

The content piece in this unit, “Home for Housing Facts,”

provides students with many statistics on homelessness.

After completing Unit 2, students should find the facts about

homelessness more meaningful. As a result, students

should be more motivated to share some of what they have

learned with others. Students also are more likely to want to

do something to address homelessness.

This activity consists of multiple parts; each one can be

dropped or modified to fit the activity into the time you

have available. One part of the activity centers on creating

and administering survey questions. Having students survey

people at home can strengthen the bridge between home

and school. But if involving people at home is problematic,

you should think of alternative ways of gathering

information from people – e.g., students can survey other

teachers.

Students will take what they learn from the surveys and craft

an awareness/education campaign about homelessness. You

may also decide to have students do something to raise

awareness and money for a shelter. Consider the feasibility

of such a project, which is sure to have many rewards.

Suggestions:

1. As a class, explore what makes something a survey and

why surveys are used. Encourage students to use some

specific examples in discussing the topic — e.g., online

surveys, door-to-door surveys, telephone surveys, etc.

Let students know that they will be surveying people

about the topic of homelessness.

2. As a class or in cooperative groups, have students

brainstorm and list any of the important facts and

issues they have learned about homelessness. (Try to

focus some of the discussion on homelessness prevention

and, if appropriate for your class, such related

themes as affordable housing and job training.) Beside

each item on the list, students should say whether they

think the adults and/or older siblings at home are aware

of the fact/issue.

3. Referring to the items on the list, students should think

of questions that would help them find out if a parent or

sibling is aware of the fact or issue.

4. For homework, have students use their survey questions

with at least one adult or an older sibling. If having

students survey people at home is not possible,

have the students survey other teachers at school.

5. As a class, discuss the results of the survey and identify

the aspects of homelessness that seem to be least

understood/acknowledged. That discussion will likely

include issues surrounding homelessness prevention

(affordable housing, job training, etc.).

6. As a class or in cooperative groups, have students

brainstorm on ways to inform the public about homelessness

— particularly aspects identified in Step 5.

Students also should consider ways to raise money to

fight homelessness (particularly to prevent homelessness)

— e.g., bake sales and car washes.

7. Have students pick one of the ideas — perhaps by having

them vote on each one — and implement the idea.

Modifications for “Surveying and Building Awareness”

Math: Students can tally the survey results and figure out a

way to present the results graphically.

Science/Social Studies: As a class, you can delve deeper into

the value of surveying the public; additionally, you can

explore some of the weaknesses of using a sampling of

people to determine what the public knows about an issue or

how the public feels about an issue.

Abridged Version: Eliminate either the survey or the

awareness campaign part of the activity.

Unit 3 3-5

42


Housing Facts: Statistics about homelessness in the Washington, DC, metro area

In 2002,

the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

second annual count of the region’s homeless population found that 40

percent of the total homeless population consisted of families

with children. In 2003, the percentage of total homeless

who were families with children grew to

46.5 percent of the homeless.

Source: Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

In the winter of 2002-03,

up to 2,495 people were

staying in hypothermia shelters each night in the

metropolitan Washington, DC, area.

Source: Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

According to Fairfax County statistics,

families with children are the fastest growing group

among the homeless population, and there has been

more than a 20 percent increase in the total

homeless population since 1998.

Source: Junior League of Virginia

For the first time in 2003, the

Council of Governments survey

attempted to count “chronic”

homeless people, a category

that includes families or

individuals who have been

continually homeless for more

than a year and are not currently

in transitional or permanent

housing. The 2003 survey

counted 1,939 adults and

218 persons in families as

chronically homeless.

Source:

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

3-5 Unit 3

43


Housing Facts: Statistics about homelessness in the United States

In fiscal year 2000, only

35 percent of homeless youth lived in shelters;

34 percent lived doubled up with family or friends, and 23

percent lived in motels and other locations.

Source: National Coalition for the Homeless

About half the individuals who

experience homelessness over the course

of a year live in family units.

Source: National Alliance to End Homlessness

About 38 percent of people

who are homeless in the course

of a year are children.

Source: National Alliance to End Homlessness

Between 700,000 and 800,000 people are homeless

on any given night. Over the course of a year between 2.5 million

and 3.5 million people will experience homelessness in this country.

Source: National Alliance to End Homlessness

Homeless families report that their

major needs are for help finding a

job, help finding affordable

housing, and financial help to pay

for housing. The services they most

often receive, however, are

clothing, transportation assistance,

and help getting public benefits.

Only 20 percent of families

report that they received

help finding housing.

Source: National Alliance to End Homlessness

An Urban Institute study states that about

3.5 million people—1.35 million of them children—are

likely to experience homelessness in a given year.

Source: National Coalition for the Homeless

The largest increase in

emergency shelter requests over

the past year (a jump of 31 percent)

occurred among families.

Source: U.S. Mayors Hunger and Homelessness

Survey, 2002

In 2002, the demand for emergency shelter went unmet

in 30 percent of cases.

Source: U.S. Mayors Hunger and Homelessness Survey, 2002

Unit 3 3-5

44


Home for Housing Facts

Using the statistics, choose the answer that best answers the question.

1. Of the 3.5 million people who are likely to experience homelessness in a given year, how many of them are not

children?

a) 1.35 million

b) 3.5 million

c) 2.15 million

d) 50,000

2. In comparing 2002 with 2003, what was the percentage difference in homeless families?

a) There were 40 percent more in 2002

b) There were 46.5 percent more in 2003

c) There were 86.5 percent more in 2003

d) There were 6.5 percent more in 2003

3. If approximately 40 percent of people who are homeless in the course of a year are children, how many children

would be in a group of 10 homeless people?

a) 4 children

b) 10 children

c) 40 children

d) 0 children

4. What fraction represents how many homeless families report that they receive help in finding housing?

a) 3/10

b) 2/10

c) 5/10

d) 10/10

5. In the winter of 2002–2003, approximately how many homeless people were staying in shelters each night to

escape the cold?

a) 10,000

b) 2,500

c) 1,500

d) 3,000

6. How much increase has there been in the total homeless population since 1998, according to Fairfax County statistics?

a) 20 times more homeless people

b) .2 times more homeless people

c) 2 times more homeless people

d) The same number of homeless people

3-5 Unit 3

45


Home for Housing Facts — Answer Key

1. Of the 3.5 million people who are likely to experience homelessness in a given year, how many of them are not

children? c) 2.15 million — Students must use the statistic that 1.35 million of the 3.5 million homeless are children

and then subtract that number from the total to find the number of homeless who aren’t children.

2. In comparing 2002 with 2003, what was the percentage difference in homeless families? d) There were

6.5 percent more in 2003. — Students must subtract the percentage of homeless in 2002 who were families

(40 percent) from that percentage in 2003 (46.5 percent) to arrive at the correct answer.

3. If approximately 40 percent of people who are homeless in the course of a year are children, how many children

would be in a group of 10 homeless people? a) 4 children — To answer this correctly, students must be able to

represent 40 percent as a fraction (4/10).

4. What fraction represents how many homeless families report that they receive help in finding housing?

b) 2/10 — To answer this correctly, students must be able to represent 20 percent as a fraction (2/10).

5. In the winter of 2002–2003, approximately how many homeless people were staying in shelters each night to

escape the cold? b) 2,500 — Students must understand how to approximate values and understand that 2,500 is

closest to 2,495.

6. How much increase has there been in the total homeless population since 1998, according to Fairfax County statistic?

b) .2 times more homeless people —To answer this correctly, students must be able to represent 20 percent as a

decimal.

Unit 3 3-5

46


6–8


Unit Structure

Each unit will focus on a particular theme.

In order to bring out that theme, each unit has:

• A two-page written piece for you to photocopy for your students

• An assessment modeled after Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. tests

• A suggested pre-reading activity

• A suggested post-reading activity with cross-curricular modifications

• Writing prompts

• Background teacher support information

Please note that this curriculum was designed so that Units 1,2 and 3 flow in a

natural order. Each unit is completely self-contained; however, you will have the

greatest impact by completing each unit in order.


Unit 1: Understanding that there are people without homes

Content Piece— Shoniqua’s Experience is a real first-person account by an 11-year-old girl named Shoniqua Williams, who

was without a home when she was in third grade. By giving students an emotional tie to one person, the content piece will

encourage students to think about their own homes, and what it must be like to be without a home.

Activity 1— Students in cooperative groups will “build” a home through descriptions. The primary objective of this activity is

to have students think about the many ways in which having a home is important.

Activity 2 (New!)— Students will write a short update essay for Shoniqua’s Experience as if they were Shoniqua Williams.

After students write their essays, they will discuss the importance of permanent, affordable housing.

Activity Modifications— Math classes can create 3-D homes out of geometric shapes. Social Studies classes can also build a

home out of words that describe the homes of people living in a particular geographic area or historic setting.

State standards met with this unit

WASHINGTON, DC:

The content standards listed are those whose Performance Standards AND Essential Skills are met, in part, through completion

of the Unit. However, additional content standards met through the unit’s activity modifications ARE NOT included.

6th grade Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4

7th grade Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4

8th grade Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4

MARYLAND:

Maryland standards indicate what students should know and be able to do by the end of eighth grade. Divided by subject area, the areas

listed below indicate the standards that are part of this unit. However, additional standards met through the unit’s activity modifications ARE

NOT included.

Language Arts—Reading; Literature; Writing; Language; Listening; Speaking

Social Studies—Economics

VIRGINIA:

The Standards of Learning (SOLs) listed are those that are met, in part, through completion of the unit. However, additional SOLs met through

the unit’s activity modifications ARE NOT included.

6th grade English—Oral: 6.1; Reading: 6.3, 6.4; Writing: 6.6

7th grade English—Oral: 7.1; Reading: 7.4, 7.5; Writing: 7.8

8th grade English— Oral: 8.2; Reading: 8.4; Writing: 8.7

6-8 Unit 1

47


Unit 2: Understanding the causes of homelessness

Content Piece— “Food for Thought” is a fictional first-person account from a 13-year-old boy who

volunteers at a soup kitchen and encounters a handful of people whose reasons for being without a

home all differ from one another. The specific circumstances will give students concrete information

that serves as a basis for understanding the general issues surrounding homelessness.

Activity 1— Students in cooperative groups will create flow charts with visual representations for

“Causes” of homelessness on one side and visual representations for “Effects” of homelessness on

the other side. The primary objective of this activity is for students to develop a stronger

understanding of how the concept of cause and effect works.

Activity 2 (New!)— Students will come up with interview questions they would like to ask Jeff—the 13-

year-old character in “Food for Thought”—and hypothesize how he might answer those questions.

Activity Modifications —Science classes can use the ledgers to examine the different effects that seasons of the year (and

weather in general) have on those without homes. To increase the activity’s health focus, students can use the ledgers to

examine the effects that being without a home can have on a person’s health.

State standards met with this unit

WASHINGTON, DC:

The content standards listed are those for which Performance Standards AND Essential Skills are met, in part, through completion

of the unit. However, any additional content standards met through the unit’s activity modifications ARE NOT included.

6th grade Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4

7th grade Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4

8th grade Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4

MARYLAND:

Maryland standards indicate what students should know and be able to do by the end of eighth grade. Divided by subject area, the areas

listed below indicate the standards that are part of this unit. However, any additional standards met through the unit’s activity modifications

ARE NOT included.

Language Arts—Reading; Literature; Writing; Language; Listening; Speaking

Social Studies—Geography; Economics

VIRGINIA:

The Standards of Learning (SOLs) listed are those that are met, in part, through completion of the unit. However, any additional SOLs met

through the unit’s activity modifications ARE NOT included.

6th grade English—Oral: 6.1; Reading: 6.3, 6.4; Writing: 6.6

7th grade English—Oral: 7.1; Reading: 7.4, 7.5; Writing: 7.9

8th grade English—Reading: 8.4, 8.5; Writing: 8.7

Unit 2 6-8

48


Unit 3: Recognizing that we can do something to address homelessness

Content Piece— A series of statistics and facts cover homelessness and issues related to homelessness. Once

students have developed an emotional tie to someone without a home (Unit 1) and have developed a better

understanding of the causes and effects of homelessness (Unit 2), the statistics and facts will have much

greater meaning for them.

Activity 1— Students will work in cooperative groups to create ways to promote the Help the Homeless Walkathon at school,

at home, in their neighborhoods, and so on. The primary objective of this activity is to build awareness of and excitement

about the Walkathon.

Activity 2 (New!)— Students will survey people at home (and perhaps in the community) to measure understanding of

homelessness (particularly homelessness prevention), eventually coming up with project ideas that address issues and/or

perceptions surrounding homelessness.

Activity Modifications— All content areas can tie the problem-solving focus of the activity to content-specific material. To

add a greater math emphasis, students can look at different Walkathon participation scenarios and figure out how many

people might take part in each.

State standards met with this unit

WASHINGTON, DC:

The content standards listed are those for which Performance Standards AND Essential Skills are met, in part, through completion

of the unit. However, any additional content standards met through the unit ’s activity modifications ARE NOT included.

6th grade Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4; Math—Standards 1, 2, 3

7th grade Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4; Math—Standards 1, 2, 3

8th grade Language Arts—Standards 1, 2, 3, 4; Math—Standards 1, 2, 3

MARYLAND:

Maryland standards indicate what students should know and be able to do by the end of eighth grade. Divided by subject area, the areas

listed below indicate the standards that are part of this unit. However, any additional standards met through the unit’s activity modifications

ARE NOT included.

Language Arts—Reading; Listening; Speaking

Math—Algebra; Statistics; Probability; Number Relationships

Social Studies—Geography; Economics

VIRGINIA:

The Standards of Learning (SOLs) listed are those that are met, in part, through completion of the unit. However, any additional SOLs met

through the unit ’s activity modifications ARE NOT included.

6th grade English—Oral: 6.1; Reading: 6.5; Writing: 6.6, 6.7

Math—Number Sense: 6.1; Computation and Estimating: 6.7; Probability: 6.18

7th grade English—Oral: 7.1, 7.3; Reading: 7.6; Writing: 7.8, 7.9

Math—Number Sense: 7.1; Computation and Estimating: 7.4

8th grade English—Oral: 8.3; Reading: 8.6; Writing: 8.7, 8.8

Math—Number Sense: 8.3

6-8 Unit 3

49


Unit 1 — Understanding that there are people without homes

Content Piece: “Shoniqua’s Experience”

Background on “Shoniqua’s Experience”

This is Shoniqua Williams’ firsthand account of what it has

been like to be without a home. She is a young girl from

Richmond, Virginia, who has not had permanent housing

since 1997, when her father left the family. The first year

without a home was particularly

difficult for Shoniqua, her mother,

and her younger sister because they

lived in two different states. During

that time, Shoniqua attended three

different schools. Shoniqua admits

that she misbehaved in class and

bullied others. She tells readers that

her actions were part of her “tough

girl” image. In reality, her situation

hurt and confused her. Today, she is

active in school and has received an

award for perfect attendance. She is

extremely optimistic about her

future.

A first-person account like this will

likely hook students into caring about

homelessness and wanting to learn

more. By giving students an

emotional tie to one person,

Shoniqua’s Experience will encourage students to think

about their own homes, what it must be like not to have a

home, and other important issues.

Skills Developed in this Unit:

Self-analysis; interpersonal skills;

descriptive writing; comparing and

contrasting; working in the abstract;

understanding cause and effect; literacy

fluency and comprehension

Unit’s Desired Outcomes

Students will:

• recognize that homes come in many

different forms

• analyze what makes having a home

special and important

• understand that there are people

who do not have homes

• develop empathy for those who do

not have homes

Suggestions for “Shoniqua’s Experience”

Before reading “Shoniqua’s Experience,” ask students what

the term “homelessness” means. Seek out at least a few

explanations. It’s likely that students will also describe

homeless people in their explanations. Some of those

descriptions will likely be based on stereotypes —

drug/alcohol problem, emotionally unstable, etc. If

students settle on a definition for a

homeless person that is very

stereotypical, ask students if there

are homeless people who are not like

this description. You may or may not

get some alternative descriptions.

Regardless, keep the discussion

short. Finally, ask students to define

“home” and to use examples to

support their definition.

If you want to simulate a

standardized testing format, have

students read Shoniqua’s Experience

and answer the assessment questions

as they read. The assessment answer

key provides detailed explanations

for each question.

If an exact simulation is not

important, read “Shoniqua’s

Experience” as a class. Reading together will allow you to

answer questions (or have other students answer questions)

that may come up while reading. Further, you can discuss

the Guided Reading Questions that appear in the text.

Discussion Questions:

• Do you ever think about how important having a home is?

• Did you know that there are people who do not have any place to call home?

• If you were Shoniqua’s friend and you found out that she did not have a home, what would you say to her? What would you do?

• Why do you think homes come in so many different sizes, styles and so on?

• Were there things about your home that you took for granted before reading about Shoniqua and before doing the activity?

Unit 1 6-8

50


Post-Reading Activity: “Home Builder”

Objective: First independently and then in cooperative

groups, students will understand the importance of

having a home through “building” different homes with

descriptions.

Time: 20 – 40 minutes

Materials: paper and pencil

Optional Materials: markers/colored pencils, stick

outline of a home

Background:

Students “build a home”

through descriptions. Have

students draw a stick-figured

representation of their homes.

On each line in the figure,

students should write a sentence

to describe their home. Then

students should get together in

cooperative groups to compare

their homes/ descriptions. By

participating in this activity, students will think about how

homes mean different things to different people. The activity

also encourages students to consider and analyze different

forms that homes come in. All in all, students will think about

homes in new ways, recognizing both the importance of

homes and the difficulty of not having a home.

Suggestions:

My house is brown.

1. Before students plug in their descriptions to the drawings,

have them brainstorm and create a list of as many

descriptions as they can think of. This can be a freeassociation

exercise.

2.Have students organize their descriptions. Students can

categorize descriptions into groups like: physical structure

(brick, two-storied, roomy) and general feeling

(cozy, safe, personal).

3.When students compare and contrast their homes, they

should also categorize and organize their group

descriptions. In some cases there may be antonyms,

e.g., “big” and “cramped” — depending on students’

experiences.

We have two chimneys.

4.Using the individual drawings, have groups create multiple

types of dwellings whose descriptions may be similar

or different from one another. For example, figures

can be a house (big and/or small) or an apartment (big

and/or small building).

5.Have students create additions beyond the basic roof,

walls, doors, and windows, so they can add more

descriptions. Encourage them to be creative.

Modifications for this activity

Math: Have students divide their homes into geometric

shapes. For example the roof can be a triangle and the base

can be a square or a rectangle. Additionally, students can

attach values for length to some of the main lines of the house

to use in figuring out area and/or volume, depending on

whether you have them make the figures three dimensional.

Social Studies: Homes are windows into the lives of people

living in different time and/or place. Have students describe

(and draw) a home typical of the geographic or historic

setting you are currently studying.

Abridged Version: Eliminate the individual home

construction, limiting the activity to cooperative groups.

Important Terms

charity: [defined in the student glossary] Many without

homes rely on charity for help ; at the same time, some

people like Shoniqua don’t like to accept charity.

income: Shoniqua does not mention this term specifically;

however, implied in her account is the fact that her father left

the family without enough income to secure permanent

housing.

permanent housing: The student glossary defines

“permanent,” and this is the goal that Shoniqua hopes her

family is able to achieve in the next year.

pride: Shoniqua says that her pride made it difficult for her to

admit that her family had no permanent housing.

relative: The idea that things can be relative to one’s

experiences may come up in your discussions, particularly

when considering aspects of home life that those with a home

take for granted, e.g., having a private bathroom.

stereotypes: Shoniqua never mentions stereotypes, but they

are likely to come up in discussing those who are homeless —

Shoniqua’s story may shatter stereotypes students have.

6-8 Unit 1

51


Shoniqua’s Experience

My name is Shoniqua Williams. I am 11 years old, in the 6th grade, and I attend

Moody Middle School in Richmond, Virginia.

In 1997, changes in my family when my dad left caused my mom, younger sister and

me to become homeless. During this time, I was confused, disappointed in myself,

and embarrassed. In the 3rd grade, I was mainly on the road. I lived in 2 states and

attended 3 different elementary schools in one year.

While trying to keep up with schoolwork, I didn’t have

time for my friends. With the little time I had, I hid

behind those friends, and didn’t show my true feelings.

Instead of showing the real me, I hid behind my “tough girl” image, and bullied

younger kids to make myself feel and look better. In the classroom, I was a class

Why did Shoniqua

act the part of the

class clown?

clown, and though I was an excellent learner, I was horrible with

my behavior. Most of those feelings were related to being

disappointed in myself. I was confused. I didn’t know what to do.

I cried at night.

In the beginning, it seemed like a game. It became real when

my family and I were living in a transitional housing

program, and I had a friend over to spend the night. I

told her that the whole cottage was our house instead

of the one room that we were actually living in. The

next day when she found out the truth, I realized how

painful the truth can be. I also didn’t want my friends

to know because I didn’t want their pity. I admit that I

have lots of pride and do not

like to accept charity.

How I overcame the situation was with my family, my

love of music, and with my faith in God. Right now, in my

Shoniqua says she “hid behind”

her friends. What do you think

she means by this?

Shoniqua was dishonest with her

friend. Why do you think she

chose not to tell the truth?

Unit 1 6-8

52


life, I am closer with my mom, and I am still getting

closer with my dad. We are working on obtaining

permanent housing, and our plan is to move this

summer.

I am doing well in school. My team and I placed

second in Henrico County in the Battle of the Books.

I was a Safety Patrol monitor and received Perfect

Attendance Awards. I am active in drama and enjoy

singing. My career goals are to get a Ph.D. in Zoology, and a

master’s degree in the Performing Arts. I know that these goals will be met because of

all the obstacles we have overcome.

Do you have career goals that

are similar to Shoniqua’s?

What are your aspirations?

Have you overcome any obstacles

that you think will help you reach

your goals?

I have one last thing I want the world to know about

homelessness. It is that it is not the person’s fault. It is

not a choice — it just comes, and if we work together, we

can overcome homelessness.

— Shoniqua’s essay is reprinted with

permission from www.nationalhomeless.org — the website of the National

Coalition for the Homeless.

How would you describe

Shoniqua’s mood at the

end of her essay?

GLOSSARY

charity – helping people by donating money or goods or doing work for free

master’s degree – qualification awarded by a university to a person who has completed extra studies

permanent – staying the same

Ph.D. – the highest qualification awarded by a university to a person who has completed many years

of extra studies and is considered an expert

transitional housing program – a temporary place for someone to stay while looking for a new

home

zoology – study of animals

WRITING PROMPT

Homesickness is a common feeling that many people experience when they are away from home.

What exactly is homesickness, and why do you think people experience it? Be specific, perhaps by

using an example from your life or the life of someone you know.

6-8 Unit 1

53


“Shoniqua’s Experience”

Using the essay, choose the answer which best answers the question.

1. What happened when Shoniqua’s dad left the family?

a) Shoniqua was sent to a foster home to live with others.

b) Shoniqua, her mom, and her sister became homeless.

c) Shoniqua moved permanently to Richmond, Virginia.

d) Her father eventually moved back in with the family.

2. Why was it difficult for Shoniqua to keep up with her schoolwork?

a) because her teachers did not know that she was homeless

b) because her dad had always helped her with homework

c) because she attended three different schools in one year

d) because she spent all of her time watching her brother

3. Which of the following would have made Shoniqua feel “embarrassed”?

a) being without a home

b) misbehaving in class

c) lying about the cottage

d) all of the above

4. Shoniqua says that she has “overcome” her situation. In addition to Shoniqua saying so, how can readers tell that

she has truly overcome her situation?

a) She enjoys singing and listening to music as much as she can.

b) She is in the process of repairing her relationship with her dad.

c) She is doing well in school, and she has set goals for the future.

d) She does not ever think about the time her family was homeless.

5. What is Shoniqua’s mood at the end of her essay?

a) hopeful

b) disturbed

c) helpless

d) distressed

6. Analogies show how the relationship between two things is similar to the relationship between two other things.

For example, BIG : SMALL :: ROUGH : SMOOTH, which means that “big” is to “small” as “rough” is to “smooth.” In

this case the relationships are both opposites. Complete the following analogy: ZOOLOGY : ANIMALS ::

a) LOCKER : BOOKS

b) JAIL CELL : BARS

c) DOG : CAT

d) ASTRONOMY : OUTER SPACE

Unit 1 6-8

54


“Shoniqua’s Experience” — Answer Key

1. What happened when Shoniqua’s dad left the family? b) Shoniqua, her mom, and her sister became homeless. —

The passage doesn’t make it clear that they became homeless immediately after her father left. However,

Shoniqua does say, “changes in my family that occurred when my dad left,” which shows that there is a cause and

effect relationship between the father’s leaving and their becoming homeless. Choice b is incorrect because she

says she lived in two different states, so she did not live anywhere permanently.

2. Why was it difficult for Shoniqua to keep up with her schoolwork? c) because she attended three different schools

in one year — Nowhere does Shoniqua say, “I had trouble with my schoolwork because …” Still, students should

understand that it would have been difficult for her to keep up because she changed schools so often. The other

choices would require that she state them verbatim in order for them to be true, and she doesn’t do that.

3. Which of the following would have made Shoniqua feel “embarrassed”? d) all of the above — She was embarrassed

about being homeless (she lied about the cottage), and she was embarrassed about misbehaving in class (she was

disappointed in herself). She also says that she admitted to lying about her family owning the whole cottage, so

that implies that she was also embarrassed about lying.

4. Shoniqua says that she has “overcome” her situation. In addition to Shoniqua saying so, how can readers tell that

she has truly overcome her situation? c) She is doing well in school, and she has set goals for the future. — While

she does tell readers that she is repairing the relationship with her dad and she likes music, these things are helping

her to overcome her situation. The proof that she has overcome the situation is that she is doing better in

school and has set future goals.

5. What is Shoniqua’s mood at the end of her essay? a) hopeful — Shoniqua seems hopeful for the future. She has

gained an understanding that homelessness isn’t reserved for a certain “type” of person. She seems hopeful that

homelessness can be overcome by working together. Plus, she has definite aspirations for her future.

6. Analogies show how the relationship between two things is similar to the relationship between two other things.

For example, BIG : SMALL :: ROUGH : SMOOTH. What this is saying is that “big” is to “small” as “rough” is to

“smooth.” In this case the relationships are both opposites. Complete the following analogy: ZOOLOGY : ANIMALS :: d)

ASTRONOMY : OUTER SPACE The glossary defines zoology as the study of animals. Similarly, astronomy is the study

of outer space. Even if students are unfamiliar with astronomy, they should be able to eliminate the other choices.

6-8 Unit 1

55


Post-Reading Activity: “Experiencing

Shoniqua’s Experience”

Objective: Students will write a short update essay for

Shoniqua’s Experience—as if they were Shoniqua

Williams. After students write their essays, they will

discuss the importance of affordable permanent housing.

Time: 45 minutes

Materials: paper and pencil

Optional Materials: local newspaper (home/housing

section); Internet access

Background:

It has been a few years since sixth-grader Shoniqua

Williams wrote about her experiences of being without a

home during elementary school and later during middle

school. When she wrote the essay, Shoniqua was hoping to

move into permanent housing. This activity gives students

an opportunity to reflect further on Shoniqua’s experience

and on her aspirations for finding a permanent home.

Students will write their essays from Shoniqua’s point of

view — as though they were Shoniqua a few years later,

living in a permanent home. In deciding what to write,

students will need to reflect on the many ways that living in

permanent housing is better than living in transitional

housing. In doing so, students should develop greater

empathy for Shoniqua’s situation, as described in her essay.

Further, the activity encourages students to consider how

permanent homes come in many different shapes and sizes

and how all of them are the foundations for communities

across the country.

Suggestions:

1. Ask students if they think Shoniqua was correct in predicting

that her family would obtain permanent housing.

After students share some answers, tell them that

Shoniqua wrote that essay a few years ago and that her

family did end up living in permanent housing.

2. Have students reach a consensus on what the term

“permanent housing” means. In addition to offering

definitions, students should provide examples of permanent

housing — e.g., houses (rented and owned) and

apartments (rented and owned). Finally, from the list of

examples, students should identify those on the list

most likely to be like Shoniqua’s new home — i.e., most

likely a rented home.

3. Pose the question: How would living in an affordable

permanent home differ from living in a transitional

home? As a class, explore the differences identified.

It’s likely that the vast majority (if not all) of the differences

will be benefits. If students don’t notice that the

differences are primarily benefits, ask students to pick

out differences that they consider benefits.

4. When you assign students the task of updating

Shoniqua’s essay, point out that they generated a list of

differences between permanent housing and transitional

housing. This exercise should serve as prewriting

work. Students also should use the list of likely types of

permanent housing, generated in Step 2, for their

prewriting work. Students should identify some of the

topics that Shoniqua mentions in her essay — e.g.,

school, friends, and future aspirations.

5. Give students guidelines and expectations for their

essays, such as the required length of the essay and the

amount of time they will have to write it.

6. Once students have completed their essays, start a discussion

about the importance of affordable permanent

housing. Ask students why affordable permanent housing

is important to individual people as well as to a

community.

Modifications for “Experiencing Shoniqua’s

Experience”

Math: Using the newspaper and/or online resources, have

students research rental prices for some permanent housing

options in your community. Students can record the data,

represent the data in graph form, calculate median prices and

mean prices, and so on.

Abridged Version: Have students complete their essays as a

homework assignment.

Unit 1 6-8

56


Unit 2 — Understanding the causes of homelessness

Content Piece: “Food for Thought”

Background on “Food for Thought”

This is a narrative account of one young teen’s experience

working at a soup kitchen called Food for You. The story is

fictional but is presented in first-person, so it seems as

though it could be a real account of a person’s first day

volunteering at a soup kitchen. His

account focuses on people he

encounters. This presentation should

give students specific stories that

illustrate the many causes of

homelessness.

Jeff is the person with whom the

narrator spends most of his time

because both are the same age and

have the same interests. Each person

the narrator encounters has different

reasons for being without a home.

Jeff’s family spent a lot of money on

his mother’s cancer treatments; Julio

was recently laid-off; Maggie is a

recent widow with a mental disability;

Paul has an alcohol addiction; Bridget

has fled her abusive boyfriend. By

the end of his first day, the narrator

concludes he “could be Jeff.” He also

knows he will return to spend more

Skills Developed in this Unit:

time working and hanging out with those who need the soup

kitchen.

understanding cause and effect;

interpersonal skills; comparing and

contrasting; working with flow charts

and spreadsheets; working in the

abstract; literacy fluency and

comprehension

Unit’s Desired Outcomes

Students will:

• recognize that homelessness comes

in many different forms

• analyze what can cause someone to

be without a home

• understand that there are people

who need housing assistance

• develop empathy for those who do

not have homes

Suggestions for “Food for Thought”

Before reading “Food for Thought,” ask students to recall

why Shoniqua (from Unit 1) is without a permanent home.

They will likely say it’s because her father left the family

and because they cannot afford a home. Next, ask students

to recall the effects that being without a home had on

Shoniqua and her family. Finally, ask students to list more

reasons why others might be without

a home. Whether you list these other

reasons as a class or have students

write them down, encourage students

to explain how the reasons they cite

can lead to homelessness. Keep this

discussion fairly brief.

If you want to simulate a

standardized testing format, have

students read “Food for Thought,” and

answer the assessment questions as

they read. The assessment answer

key provides detailed explanations

for each question.

If an exact simulation is not

important,read “Food for Thought” as

a class. Reading together will allow

you to answer questions (or have

other students answer questions)

that come up while reading. You can

also discuss the Guided Reading Questions that appear in

the text.

Discussion Questions:

• Have you ever seen people whom you thought were without a home? How did it make you feel? Why do you think you felt this way?

• What are the images that you associate with homelessness? Are these stereotypes? Are there others who are without homes

who do not fit this image?

• What do you think people would do if there were no places like Food for You available to them?

• Who in the story would you be most interested in meeting? Explain.

• The last sentence in “Food for Thought” says, “I could be Jeff!” What do you think the narrator means by that?

6-8 Unit 2

57


Post-Reading Activity: “Let It Flow”

Objective: In groups students will create charts, using

visual representations and/or words to show Causes and

Effects associated with homelessness.

Time: 20 – 30 minutes

Materials: paper and pencil

Optional Materials: graph paper, spreadsheet software

and computer

Background: In groups, students create Cause and Effect

ledgers and/or flow charts to

present causes and effects

associated with homelessness.

For ledgers, students should

write “Cause” on one side of the

chart and “Effect” on the other.

Flow charts should display a flow

of causes that lead to an end

effect. For example, addiction

has a number of effects that lead

to homelessness. The activity

helps students develop a stronger understanding of how

cause and effect work, especially regarding homelessness.

Suggestions:

broken glass

cut hand

emergency room

1. Model ledgers and flow charts for students. It is important

to show that you can work from a cause to come up

with different effects and vice versa. For example,

being scared or having stitches can be treated as causes

or effects. Understanding these cause/effect dual roles

is important for flow charts. Model a flow chart. For

example, a ball breaks a window > broken glass > cut

hand > emergency room > stitches > bandaged hand >

write with left hand > sloppy writing.

2.Have students create similar ledgers or flow charts on

their own. They can use words or draw or cut out pictures

to represent the causes and effects.

3.Have each group create a ledger or flow chart on homelessness,

using the examples in “Food for Thought.”

They should treat homelessness as both an effect and a

cause. Homelessness can be at many different points —

beginning, middle, or end — within a flow chart.

4.Display ledgers and flow charts.

Modifications for this activity

Science: Weather and seasonal changes are ripe with cause

and effect relationships, e.g. rain’s effect on plant life,

autumn’s effect on trees, etc. Create ledgers or flow charts

that focus on weather conditions and seasonal changes.

Health: Emphasize ledgers and flow charts that examine the

health effects of being without a home. At the same time,

students may be able to examine some of the health causes

for homelessness — e.g., emotional/mental/physical

disabilities, and drug or alcohol dependency.

Computer Literacy: Have each group create a spreadsheet on

home status. It should include fields such as: name, age,

family status, current address, type of home, employment,

health status, and outlook for future. Students should

include themselves in their spreadsheets, along with those

cited in the content piece. Students may have to make

logical guesses in fields whose answers are not provided.

Abridged: Limit the activity to either ledgers or flow charts.

Important Terms

addict: [defined in the student glossary] An addict often has

a difficult time with steady employment and struggles with

expenses involved in satisfying and/or treating the addiction.

expenses: Housing costs are included in expenses, but often

other expenses — like food — prevent people from securing

housing.

insurance: Health insurance is defined in the glossary. Not

having insurance (of many kinds — fire, flood, homeowners,

renters) can cause someone to lose a home.

mental disability: [defined in the student glossary] One

person the narrator meets is mentally disabled; students

should recognize causes/effects associated with being

mentally disabled, including the fact that the condition varies

in severity.

shelters: [defined in the student glossary] Sometimes soup

kitchens are a part of shelters.

stereotypes: Though not mentioned by name (except in a

discussion question), stereotypes are often associated with

homelessness.

welfare: [defined in the student glossary] Many families

without homes do not qualify for or receive sufficient

government assistance.

Unit 2 6-8

58


Food for thought

Helping feed some people who don’t have a place to call home

Homeless people don’t have their own place to live. But at the soup kitchen, my friend Jeff

showed me that they’re still people just like anybody else.

I went to the soup kitchen because my parents decided that I needed to volunteer. They were tired of coming

home and finding me watching TV or playing on the computer. I met some cool people at Food For You (the

soup kitchen). I want to tell you about some of them.

At the soup kitchen: my new friend Jeff

When I walked in, this guy called Jeff Smith showed me around. Jeff and I found out that

we were a lot alike. We were both 13, we both liked baseball, and we loved Harry Potter.

When Jeff said, “Let’s go get some food,” I told him, “Nope, I’m not here to eat. I’m here to

help feed the homeless.” That’s when I found out that Jeff had no home.

I couldn’t believe Jeff didn’t have a place to live. He was too much like me! Jeff said that his

family didn’t have any money because his mom got real sick with cancer. They didn’t have

health insurance, so the family had to pay for the treatments with their savings. The doctors

The narrator says that

Jeff “was too much

like me!” What does he

mean by that?

store, they sent him to the soup kitchen.

made Mrs. Smith better, but cancer wasn’t cheap! Jeff’s family

didn’t have money anymore.

The Smiths went on welfare, but that wasn’t enough to pay for a

house and food. Apartments cost too much, so they stayed in

shelters. While both of Jeff’s parents worked at the grocery

Julio has no job

Jeff introduced me to some of the others at Food For You. He pointed at Julio, who was sitting across the room.

“Hey, what’s up, Julio?” he shouted.

Why was it difficult for

Julio waved and came over to us. He looked older than my parents — I guess he Julio to save money to use

was 50 or 60. Julio had been out of work ever since he was laid off from his

for emergencies?

factory job. When he worked, he barely made enough money to pay for food and

rent. He had to go live on the streets when he lost his job because he didn’t have

much money saved up. Julio spent the really cold nights at a shelter, but on warmer nights he slept in the park.

Maggie alone

I saw a woman pushing a shopping cart. Her clothes were dirty, and she talked to herself under her breath.

Do you think it would be

hard for Maggie to find

other people to help her?

Why or why not?

Jeff and I found out we

have a lot in common.

I asked Jeff, “What’s the matter with her?”

“Oh Maggie, she’s real nice,” he said as she smiled at him. She’s a little out of it —

she’s mentally disabled. Her husband took care of her when he was around, but

when he died, there wasn’t anyone to help her. She can’t cook, and she doesn’t

have a job, so she can’t pay for a place to live. Maggie just hangs out down here.”

6-8 Unit 2

59


Paul has a problem

I was wiping down tables after the meal when a guy almost fell on top of me. He stumbled off, and Jeff

gave me the lowdown on Paul. Paul had been coming to the soup kitchen for years. He just hangs out by

himself, not doing much of anything. He’s what’s called an alcoholic. That means that he’s almost always

drunk, and that means that nobody will hire him. You see, Paul’s an addict.

He can’t stay away from alcohol even though it’s bad for him. The thing is,

Paul looked pretty young. I sure hope he doesn’t spend the rest of his life

like that.

Bruised Bridget

She had a black eye, she had a cut on her lip, and she had a cast on her

right arm. Jeff told me about her. “Bridget’s just started coming here. You

see that black eye and the cast?” he asked. “Her boyfriend beat her up. The police got her away from him,

but she has nowhere to go. She just comes here and sits.”

Could I be Jeff?

Jeff and I sat down together. I had fun talking to him about home runs and Little League. But I couldn’t

stop thinking about the people I’d just met.

How many people did

the narrator meet on his

first day? Whose story

affected you the most?

At 5 o’clock I jumped up and ran to the door. It was time for my parents to pick

me up. Jeff came outside with me.

“Will you be back tomorrow?” he asked.

“Sure thing. I wouldn’t miss it.” And I meant it.

When I hopped in the car, my parents asked me

what I thought about the soup kitchen. I told them

that I was really glad that those people I met had a place to go eat.

But I got quiet as I looked out the window. I couldn’t stop thinking, “I could

be Jeff.”

What does it mean to be

addicted to something?

How can an addiction

be harmful?

How can you tell the

writer’s experience at

the soup kitchen had a

big effect on him?

GLOSSARY

addict — one who regularly takes part in a behavior, often an unhealthy one

health insurance — a paid service provided by insurance companies; if someone with health insurance

gets hurt, the insurance company pays for all or most of the medical bills

shelters — areas that offer a temporary place to stay to people who don’t have a home

soup kitchen — a place that serves free meals to people without a home or with little money

welfare — government programs that are designed to help people who don’t have a job or who don’t

make much money

WRITING PROMPT

The narrator describes the people at Food for You, but he does not give a very good description of the

place. Using what the narrator has in his story, describe what you think Food for You looks like, sounds

like, smells like and even feels like.

Unit 2 6-8

60


“Food for Thought”

Using the essay, choose the answer which best answers the question.

1. Why did the narrator’s parents feel he needed to volunteer?

a) He was often getting into trouble at school.

b) He was wasting too much of his free time.

c) He was supposed to volunteer after school.

d) He said mean things about homeless people.

2. What is Food For You?

a) the narrator’s volunteer spot since age ten

b) a place where people receive free food

c) a company that hires homeless people

d) a restaurant serving soup and crackers

3. The narrator says that Jeff “was too much like me!” What does he mean by that?

a) The narrator had never met anybody who shared so many things in common.

b) Jeff did not match the narrator’s image of what a homeless person was like.

c) The narrator was very surprised that Jeff liked both Harry Potter and baseball.

d) Jeff’s mother had expensive cancer treatments, so his family could not pay rent.

4. Why was it difficult for Julio to save money to use in cases of emergency?

a) because his job did not pay much more than the amount needed for living expenses

b) because he had already spent his emergency money when his mother was very sick

c) because most factories thought that Julio was too old to hire and train for a new job

d) because he was an alcoholic and he could not keep a job long enough to save money

5. The narrator explains that Maggie’s husband used to take care of her, but now he’s dead. Why is it

difficult for Maggie to find someone to take care of her the way her husband used to?

a) because it is hard to find a caregiver who does not charge a fee

b) because her disability makes everyone completely avoid her

c) because Maggie kicked out people who offered to assist her

d) because Food for You was there, she no longer needed help

6. Which of the following best defines “addict”?

a) a person who drinks alcohol like beer, wine or liquor or who takes drugs for a headache

b) someone who requires special help from a doctor or counselor to stop a specific behavior

c) Paul, the drunk person at Food for You who comes close to knocking down the narrator

d) a person who constantly participates in an activity due to a physical and/or emotional need

6-8 Unit 2

61


“Food for Thought” — Answer Key

1. Why did the author’s parents feel he needed to volunteer? b) He was wasting too much of his free time. —

The narrator says, “I went to the soup kitchen because my parents decided that I needed to volunteer.

They were tired of coming home and finding me watching TV or playing on the computer.” In other words,

his parents thought his TV viewing and game playing were not a very good use of time.

2. What is Food For You? b) a place where people receive free food — Food For You is the name of the soup

kitchen where the narrator volunteers. Students may know what a soup kitchen is; even if they don’t, the

glossary defines the term. Plus, the narrator says, “I’m here to help feed the homeless.”

3. The narrator says that Jeff “was too much like me!” What does he mean by that? b) Jeff did not match the

narrator’s image of what a homeless person was like. — Choices c and d are true, but they do not answer

the question, and choice a could be true, but the narrator never says so. However, the narrator implies

that Jeff was too much like him to be homeless and therefore he did not match the image the narrator had

of a homeless person.

4. Why was it difficult for Julio to save money that he could use in cases of emergency? a) because his job

did not pay much more than the amount needed for living expenses — The narrator explains that Julio’s factory

job did not pay very well and that his paycheck was just enough for paying rent and buying food. If

students miss this question, it is probably because they are unfamiliar with the meaning of “living

expenses.” Choices b and d use information from other people’s profiles, and choice c might be true, but it

does not address the question of why he could not save money.

5. The narrator explains that Maggie’s husband used to take care of her, but now he’s dead. Why is it difficult

for Maggie to find someone to take care of her the way her husband used to? a) because it is hard to find a

caregiver who does not charge a fee — She has a mental disability, and before he died, her husband took

care of her and obviously did not charge a fee to do so. Without him alive, though, she would probably

have to be cared for by professionals in a nursing home or mental hospital, either of which would cost

money.

6. Which of the following best defines “addict”?

d) a person who constantly participates in an activity due to a physical and/or emotional need — This question

may be difficult for some students because each of the answer choices does relate to the term

“addict.” This choice is the only one, though, that defines addict. Choice a includes those who drink an

occasional beer and those who take aspirin — people who wouldn’t be addicts. Choice b may be true of

some addicts, but not necessarily all of them, so it is not a very good definition.

Unit 2 6-8

62


Post-Reading Activity: “What Would Jeff Say?”

Objective: In cooperative groups, students will come up

with interview questions they would like to ask Jeff—the

13-year-old character in “Food for Thought.” They will

also hypothesize about how Jeff, or someone like Jeff,

would answer their questions.

Time: 30–60 minutes

Materials: paper and pencil

Optional Materials: Internet access for research

Background:

“Food for Thought” presents the character

of Jeff—a 13-year-old who lives in a

shelter and whose mother is recovering

from cancer treatment. Jeff and his family

lost their home primarily because the

medical costs associated with his mother’s

cancer treatment were so high. Jeff and his

situation are fictional, but they are

inspired by the experiences of real people.

If given the opportunity, students could learn a great deal

from being able to ask a person like Jeff questions about his

situation. And in learning about Jeff’s life and living

situation, students could get a better sense of what it is like

to be a teenager without a home and, more broadly, what it

is like to be homeless. The process of formulating interview

questions requires students to factor in what they know,

what they would like to know, and how to find out what they

want to know. This activity also allows students to work on

abstract thinking and hypothesize how someone would

answer a question.

Suggestions:

1. Ask students what they know about the character Jeff.

Once students have described Jeff as best they can

given the information in “Food for Thought,” pose this

question: What does Jeff’s living space at the shelter

look like? Many of your students are likely to say they

have no idea. Some students, however, might hypothesize

that Jeff has baseball posters and/or Harry Potter

books displayed somewhere. Some students might even

be able to describe the living space in a shelter.

2. Divide students into cooperative groups and introduce

the task: Students will come up with interview questions

that they would like to ask Jeff or someone like Jeff.

(Perhaps they would like to know what his living space

looks like.)

3. Have students create two lists. The first list should

review what they know about Jeff. The second list

should itemize what they would like to know about Jeff.

4. Using the list of what students would like to know, have

the groups formulate questions they would ask Jeff to

get the information they wanted. Each group should

come up with at least 10 questions.

5. Once groups have their questions, have

students categorize each one. Is it a question

that would apply specifically to a boy or girl

Jeff’s age? (Who’s your favorite Harry Potter

character?) Would it apply to any teen without

a home? (Have you been to many different

schools?) Would it apply to anyone who is

homeless? (How long have you not had a

home?) Or, would it apply to anyone? (What’s

your favorite food?)

6. Time permitting, students can research answers to their

questions — particularly for questions that might apply

to any person without a home. Additionally, students

can use what they know (including what they learn from

research) to hypothesize how Jeff might answer the

questions.

Modifications for “What Would Jeff Say?”

Social Studies: This activity can be extended to create

interview questions for historic figures or people who live in a

different part of the world.

Abridged Version: Limit the number of questions to five.

6-8 Unit 2

63


Unit 3 — Recognizing that we can address the issues of homelessness

Content Piece: “Home for Housing Facts”

Background on “Home for Housing Facts”

These two pages contain facts and statistics that relate to

homelessness. The content piece stresses mathematical

literacy, particularly as it relates to ratios and percentages.

The statistics listed in “Home for Housing Facts” are those

that are most likely to interest

students, in part because they do not

require a great deal of background

knowledge and context to

understand.

Once students have developed an

emotional tie to someone without a

home (Unit 1) and have developed a

better understanding of the causes

and effects of homelessness (Unit 2),

they will be ready to comprehend and

appreciate these numbers in this

unit. Knowing the extent of the

problem makes it more likely that

students will want to figure out what

they (and others) can do about

homelessness.

Suggestions for “Home for Housing Facts”

Skills Developed in this Unit:

understanding cause and effect;

interpersonal skills; comparing and

contrasting; working with graphs and

charts; working with ratios and

percentages; working in the abstract;

brainstorming; prioritizing

Unit’s Desired Outcomes

Students will:

• recognize that there are many people

who need housing assistance

• analyze statistics to appreciate how

many people struggle to have

housing

• understand that there are ways for

people to assist those without homes

• develop a plan for doing something to

help the cause of homelessness

Because this content piece is more effective after students

have worked through the other units, start by reviewing the

main points from Units 1 and 2. You can use this review as a

way to have students try to predict statistics that are part of

this content piece. For example, you can ask students to

recall the stories of Shoniqua (Unit 1) and Jeff (Unit 2).

Then, ask them what percentage of those without a home

are children. You can also ask

items.

students if they think there are

enough homeless shelters available

for people, how much rent a family

like Jeff’s typically pays, and what

percentage of Julio’s expenses

should go toward rent, so he has

enough left over for other things.

If you want to simulate a

standardized testing format, have

students use “Home for Housing

Facts” and answer the assessment

questions. The assessment answer

key provides detailed explanations

for each question.

If an exact simulation is not

important, go through each fact,

statistic, graph and figure as a class.

This will allow you to answer

questions (or have other students

answer questions) that come up

while going through each of the

Discussion Questions:

• Why is it important to see how many people without homes are children? Do you think it makes a difference whether or not

someone in a homeless shelter is a child? Explain.

• What do you think are some of the worries of homeless people or homeless families?

• Which statistic or fact surprised you the most? Why was it so surprising?

• Like all people, homeless families have physical needs such as water, food, and shelter. What do you think are some of the

emotional needs of homeless people?

• What are some ways that people can assist those who are without homes?

Unit 3 6-8

64


Post-Reading Activity: “Help the Help the

Homeless Walkathon”

Objective: In cooperative groups students will think of

and create ways to promote the Help the Homeless

Walkathon.

Time: 30–45 minutes

Materials: paper and pen/pencil

Optional Materials: poster board, magic markers

Background: In groups, students brainstorm and come up

with ways to promote the Help

the Homeless Walkathon, which

takes place on the National Mall

in Washington, DC, in November.

Because this unit’s objective is to

spur action, this activity provides

them with a concrete way to act.

By working on ways to publicize

the walkathon, students will be

more likely to participate in it with

their families and their classmates. Plus, students gain a

sense of accomplishment when they have helped encourage

some of the thousands of people who take part in the

walkathon.

Suggestions:

WE

NEED

YOUR

HELP!

Who: You

What: Help the

Homeless Walkathon

1. Students must think about their target audience. In

order for students to brainstorm how to promote the

Help the Homeless Walkathon, they must first identify

whom they want to reach. Discussing commercials on TV

is an excellent way to show students the importance of

knowing your audience. There is a definite relationship

between what is being advertised, how it is being

advertised, and when it is being advertised (time and

during which TV show). All of these choices relate to the

target audience. You can have the same discussion

about print ads in magazines. Students should be able

to recognize the relationship between the typical readers

and the ads that appear.

2.Students should follow a problem-solving process similar

to: identify goals and audience, brainstorm ways to

achieve goals/reach audience, pick the most realistic

and effective option(s), and make it happen.

3.If your students decide on posters or flyers, ask for permission

to post them throughout the school. Similarly,

students can write copy for the morning/afternoon

announcements.

4.You can also have students simply come up with ideas

on how to promote the Help the Homeless Walkathon,

regardless of whether students can actually do the promotion,

e.g., create a commercial, a web site, etc.

Modifications for this activity

All content areas: You can have students apply the same

problem-solving skills and processes to problems that are

more content specific.

Language Arts: Emphasize writing and audience

identification to show the link between the two. This

understanding should carry over to reading both fiction and

nonfiction.

Math: Give students different Help the Homeless Walkathon

scenarios to figure out how many people would take part in it.

For example, students can translate percentages of people

from the area who take part into raw numbers or the other

way around. Or students can come up with a formula to see

how spreading the word can illustrate geometric proportions.

Pick scenarios that match your students’ abilities.

Abridged: Lead the activity with the entire class.

Important Terms

expenses: Housing costs are included in expenses, but other

expenses often make people unable to afford housing. One

statistic shows that a large number of people devote at least

50% of their income to housing costs.

housing costs: These are costs associated with either paying

rent or paying mortgages.

median: This applies to median costs for housing.

percentages: Many of the statistics include percentages, and

many of those are reinforced through visual means; the

percentages allow students to translate them to ratios or

other formats.

ratios: Many of the statistics are presented as ratios with

visual representations; students can convert those ratios to

percentages.

6-8 Unit 3

65


Post-Reading Activity:

“Survey the Scene and Do Something”

Objective: Students will survey people at home (and

perhaps in the community) to measure their

understanding of homelessness (particularly

homelessness prevention). Students will use the results

to come up with project ideas that address issues and/or

perceptions surrounding homelessness.

Time: 45–120 minutes (time varies depending on the

number of suggested exercises used), plus homework

Materials: paper and pencil

Optional Materials: tape recorders, markers/colored

pencils, poster board

Background:

“Home for Housing Facts” provides students with many statistics

on homelessness. After completing the last unit, students

should find the facts about homelessness more meaningful,

and as a result, students should be more motivated to

share some of what they have learned with others. Students

are also more likely to want to do something to address

homelessness. This activity consists of multiple parts; each

one can be dropped or modified to fit the activity into the

time you have available. One part of the activity centers on

creating and administering survey questions. Having students

survey people at home and in the community can

strengthen the bridge between home and school. But if

involving people at home is problematic, you should think of

alternative solutions. Students will take what they learn from

the surveys and think of project ideas that address issues

and/or perceptions of homelessness.

Suggestions:

2. Have students pair up and brainstorm a list of the

important facts and issues they have learned about

homelessness. (Whenever possible, have students focus

on homelessness prevention – e.g., affordable housing,

job training, etc.) Beside each item on the list, students

should say whether they think people at home, as well as

people who live near them, are aware of the fact/issue.

3. Referring to the items on the list, students should think

of questions to ask someone to find out if he or she is

aware of the fact or issue. Students should come up with

approximately 10 questions.

4. For homework, have the paired students survey at least

three different people using the questions from Step 3.

If assigning homework or having students survey people

at home is not possible, have the students survey other

teachers at school.

5. As a class, discuss the results of the survey and identify

the aspects of homelessness that seem least understood.

6. As a class or in cooperative groups, have students

brainstorm ways to change perceptions about and

increase awareness of homelessness — particularly

those aspects related to homelessness prevention

(affordable housing, skill building, job training, etc.).

Additionally, students should think of project ideas that

would address some specific homelessness issues. One

issue might be that illiteracy makes finding a job or

even filling out a job application difficult. In that case,

students might start a schoolwide drive to donate

books, volunteer to read to people living in shelters

(especially younger children), or raise money to create

a shelter library filled with books relevant to job training,

skill building, etc.

7. If possible, have students adopt one of their ideas and

carry it out.

1. As a class, explore the idea of what makes something a

survey and why surveys are used. Encourage students to

use some specific examples in discussing the topic —

e.g., online surveys, door-to-door surveys, telephone

surveys, etc. Let students know that they will be

surveying people about the topic of homelessness.

Unit 3 6-8

66


Modifications for “Surveying and Building

Awareness”

Math: Building on Unit 1’s math modification (researching

rental rates for affordable housing units) and using the

additional statistics provided, have students walk through the

following exercise. Share the following statistics with your

students:

• The minimum wage in Washington, D.C., is $6.15 per hour.

• Monthly take-home pay for people earning minimum wage

and working a 40-hour week is $984 (before taxes).

• The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in

Washington, D.C., is $830.

• A person earning minimum wage and renting a one-bedroom

apartment in D.C. will have only $154 left over each month

for other expenses. Ask students to name/list other monthly

debts and to approximate how much they total. Discuss

whether $154 would be enough to meet these costs.

• The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

considers housing affordable if a person pays no more than

30 percent of his or her income in housing costs.

• To earn enough money so that the average rent in

Washington, D.C., ($830) only takes 30 percent of monthly

wages, a person earning minimum wage would have to work

113 hours per week.

Discuss how a chain reaction is created when adults use

rent/mortgage money to pay for immediate needs – e.g.,

food, clothes, transportation, child care. Talk about how these

adults can fall behind in rent/mortgage payments and never

catch up, a cycle that can lead to eviction and even

homelessness.

Social Studies: As a class, you can delve deeper into the value

of surveying the public; additionally, you can explore some of

the weaknesses of using a sampling of people to determine

what the public knows about an issue or how the public feels

about an issue. Additionally, you can have students complete

the math modification exercise and discuss the public versus

private responsibilities of ensuring affordable housing, decent

minimum wages, and other basic supports for all members of a

given society.

Abridged Version:

Eliminate either the survey portion or the awareness

campaign portion of the activity.

6-8 Unit 3

67


Housing Facts: Statistics about homelessness in the Washington, DC, metro area

In 2002,

the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

second annual count of the region’s homeless population found that 40

percent of the total homeless population consisted of families

with children. In 2003, the percentage of total homeless

who were families with children grew to

46.5 percent of the homeless.

Source: Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

In the winter of 2002-03,

up to 2,495 people were

staying in hypothermia shelters each night in the

metropolitan Washington, DC, area.

Source: Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

According to Fairfax County statistics,

families with children are the fastest growing group

among the homeless population, and there has been

more than a 20 percent increase in the total

homeless population since 1998.

Source: Junior League of Virginia

For the first time in 2003, the

Council of Governments survey

attempted to count “chronic”

homeless people, a category

that includes families or

individuals who have been

continually homeless for more

than a year and are not currently

in transitional or permanent

housing. The 2003 survey

counted 1,939 adults and

218 persons in families as

chronically homeless.

Source:

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

Unit 3 6-8

68


Housing Facts: Statistics about homelessness in the United States

In fiscal year 2000, only

35 percent of homeless youth lived in shelters;

34 percent lived doubled up with family or friends, and 23

percent lived in motels and other locations.

Source: National Coalition for the Homeless

About half the individuals who

experience homelessness over the course

of a year live in family units.

Source: National Alliance to End Homlessness

About 38 percent of people

who are homeless in the course

of a year are children.

Source: National Alliance to End Homlessness

Between 700,000 and 800,000 people are homeless

on any given night. Over the course of a year between 2.5 million

and 3.5 million people will experience homelessness in this country.

Source: National Alliance to End Homlessness

Homeless families report that their

major needs are for help finding a

job, help finding affordable

housing, and financial help to pay

for housing. The services they most

often receive, however, are

clothing, transportation assistance,

and help getting public benefits.

Only 20 percent of families

report that they received

help finding housing.

Source: National Alliance to End Homlessness

An Urban Institute study states that about

3.5 million people—1.35 million of them children—are

likely to experience homelessness in a given year.

Source: National Coalition for the Homeless

The largest increase in

emergency shelter requests over

the past year (a jump of 31 percent)

occurred among families.

Source: U.S. Mayors Hunger and Homelessness

Survey, 2002

In 2002, the demand for emergency shelter went unmet

in 30 percent of cases.

Source: U.S. Mayors Hunger and Homelessness Survey, 2002

6-8 Unit 3

69


Home for Housing Facts

Using the statistics, choose the answer that best answers the question.

1. Of the 3.5 million people who are likely to experience homelessness in a given year, what percentage of them are

not children?

a) 40 percent

b) 38.6 percent

c) 61 percent

d) 50 percent

2. In comparing 2002 with 2003, what was the percentage difference in homeless families?

a) There were 40 percent more in 2002

b) There were 46.5 percent more in 2003

c) There were 86.5 percent more in 2003

d) There were 6.5 percent more in 2003

3. If approximately 40 percent of people who are homeless in the course of a year are children, how many children

would be in a group of 30 homeless people?

a) 12 children

b) 4 children

c) 40 children

d) 14 children

4. What fraction represents how many homeless families report that they did not receive help in finding housing?

a) 3/10

b) 8/10

c) 2/10

d) 10/10

5. Substance abusers account for an estimated 32 percent of the homeless population, and persons considered mentally

ill account for 23 percent. Twenty-two percent of the homeless in survey cities are employed. Ten percent

are veterans. These percentages do not add up to 100 percent. Why is this the case?

a) Because some categories of people are not represented in these statistics

b) Because it must add up to 100 percent in order to get everyone represented

c) Because the people who are included are from more than one country

d) Because there are people who are included in more than one category

6. If there were 1,000 homeless people in Fairfax County in 1998, how many were there in 2003?

a) 1,020 homeless people

b) 1,200 homeless people

c) Twice as many homeless people

d) The same number of homeless people

Unit 3 6-8

70


Home for Housing Facts — Answer Key

1. Of the 3.5 million people who are likely to experience homelessness in a given year, what percentage of them are

not children? c) 61 percent — Students must use the statistic that 1.35 million of the 3.5 million homeless are

children and then subtract that number from the total to find the number of homeless who aren’t children (2.15

million). Then they must determine the percentage by dividing 2.15 by the total (3.5).

2. In comparing 2002 with 2003, what was the percentage difference in homeless families? d) There were 6.5 percent

more in 2003 — Students must subtract the percentage of homeless in 2002 who were families (40 percent) from

that percentage in 2003 (46.5 percent) to arrive at the correct answer.

3. If approximately 40 percent of people who are homeless in the course of a year are children, how many children

would be in a group of 30 homeless people? a) 12 children — To answer this correctly, students must be able to

represent 40 percent as a fraction (4/10) and then work through the equation 4/10 = x/30.

4. What fraction represents how many homeless families report that they did not receive help in finding housing?

b) 8/10 — To answer this correctly, students must be able to represent 20 percent as a fraction (2/10) to determine

how many received help, then subtract that number from the total (10/10).

5. Substance abusers account for an estimated 32 percent of the homeless population, and persons considered

mentally ill account for 23 percent. Twenty-two percent of the homeless in survey cities are employed. Ten percent

are veterans. These percentages do not add up to 100 percent. Why is this the case? a) Because some categories of

people are not represented in these statistics — The percentages add up to less than 100 percent because some

people are not included in these groups of homeless, such as those who are not mentally ill but do not have a job.

Students must first realize that not adding up to 100 percent means that the total is less than 100 percent. Of the

answer choices, this is the only one that could explain that fact.

6. If there were l,000 homeless people in Fairfax County in 1998, how many were there in 1998, according to County

statistics? b) 1,200 homeless people — To answer this correctly, students must be able to increase the 1998 total

by 20 percent, according to the statistics given. In this case, assuming 1,000 homeless in 1998, 1000(1.2) = 1,200.

6-8 Unit 3

71


4000 Wisconsin Avenue, NW

North Tower, Suite One

Washington, DC 20016-2804

(202) 274-8000

www.fanniemaefoundation.org

www.helpthehomelessdc.org

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines