Nonfiction Reading Unit — Lessons We Learned From Occupy Wall Street

By Jeremy Rinkel on November 28, 2011
  • Grades: 9–12

©Alan Gottlieb

 As I searched for a topic for my nonfiction literature circles to read about and discuss, I read a blog post from the Occupy Chicago website. Given the amount of media coverage the Occupy Wall Street movement has received around the world, I decided that this would be an interesting topic for our literature circles. I am neither for nor against the Occupy Wall Street movement but feel there are lessons that schools, teachers, and students can learn from the protesters and the movement itself. Continue reading to see how we studied the Occupy Wall Street movement and came up with eight lessons. 


Select Articles

Typically, I would select an excerpt out of a book, but when I realized that most students had not heard about the movement, I decided to select articles. To avoid having students choose the same articles, I assigned different websites to each row of students in my classroom, and to each class period. My goal was to get different perspectives on the movement from the multitude of media sources. This allowed us to learn about media bias and to consider the differences between conservative and liberal media coverage. 




Read and Summarize

Students were required to read and summarize the article they brought to class. I also asked students to pick out three main points that the author of the article wanted the reader to grasp from the reading. 




Small Group Discussion

The students shared the three main points of their article with in their small groups. Each group answered three questions in their discussion: 

1. What lessons can schools learn from the Occupy Wall Street movement?

2. What lessons can teachers learn from the Occupy Wall Street movement?

3. What lessons can students learn from the Occupy Wall Street movement?

Each group was required to nominate a spokesperson to report their answers during the class discussion.

Class Discussion & Bulletin Board

During the class discussion, the spokespeople reported each group's answers to the above questions. As each student presented, I took notes to assist the class in creating our class bulletin board. I made suggestions on the bulletin board, but students organized the overall look of it. My three requirements were that the board include the eight lessons, a photo with each lesson, and a title for the board.

Here are the eight lessons we chose for our bulletin board:


Eight Lessons That Occupy Wall Street

Can Teach Schools, Teachers, and Students:


1) Be persistent.


2) Stand up for what you believe in.


3) Understand the power of one.


4) Determine a clear purpose.


5) Set achievable goals.


6) Utilize social networking for communication.


7) Take education seriously.


8) Work hard.



I think my kids got a great lessons from OWS, which I didn't see in your coverage:
1)Go to college with a plan for a degree that is marketable
2)Create your marketability by working hard in every job (volunteer or paid)
3)Good hygiene helps in your marketability
4)Consider the cost of the school you are choosing- you will be expected to pay it back
5)You need to stand on your own two feet
6)Whining about the costs you have incurred for your education and your own marketability makes you look shallow, self-centered, and foolish.

And the final lesson for me: consider the bias of the source from which you purchase books. We might not need all the scholastic books we buy each month, after all.

I wonder if the lessons are going to include all the reports about rape, defecation, urination,overdoses, the breaking of the law by these people living in the park and the destrucction of some parks like in Oregon that is going to cost ten of thousands of dollar at the expense of tax payers plus overtime pay for policeman.

The bias here is beyond belief!

Yes where was the coverage of the Tea Party Protests which were peaceful, violated no laws and left the site cleaner than they found them? Instead the Tea Party was either ignored or worse yet demonized as terror group.

How can you claim OWS was a peaceful nonviolent protest with participants spitting at police, defecating in public and on police cars and destroying public property and violating laws?

I really enjoyed reading about this lesson! I think that this format of lesson can be applied to so many current event topics, which is important to teach, especially to high school students.

I look forward to reading about more lessons like this one from you in the future!

-Elisha Robinson

So, when do you cover the Tea Party?

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