SPRING 2012
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CURRICULUM INSERT | Social Justice Begins With Me
DIVISION
Junior
Building Supportive Communities
December
Five
GRADE
MONTH
THEME
Big Idea / Objective / Character Development Connection
Perseverance; Caring; Courage; Optimism; Community
Suggested Activities and Culminating Tasks
Before Reading
E Make a list of challenges that families might experience when moving to a new country.
These could be ideas or students’ own experiences.
E Make a list of stereotypes and slang terms related to homelessness (e.g., bum, lazy, hobo,
drunk, etc.) Remind students that the exercise is not meant to reinforce these, but rather to
show the pervasive, hurtful, powerful impact of words and stereotypes and to discuss why
these words are so readily available in their schema.
After Reading
E Have students revisit their list of stereotypes and slang. Do any of these apply to Zettie and
her mom? What does this disconnect tell us about the issue of homelessness?
E What kinds of daily challenges did Zettie and her mom face because of their not having a
home? How did they feel about these challenges?
E Read aloud the “Homelessness in America” note on the last page. Have students write a
reflection on what they have learned about homelessness.
E Ask students if they would want to be friends with Zettie. List characteristics of Zettie that
they can infer by reading this story to support a yes and refute a no answer (challenge
student perceptions and judgments).
Extensions
E Have students research community organizations that support the homeless. In pairs or
small groups, have students create a report and presentation about one organization they
find and its work.
E Investigate the roles that racism and gender discrimination play in unemployment and in
salary inequity. How much money do women make in comparison to men? What is the
situation for racialized women?
BOOK TITLE:
A Shelter in Our Car
AUTHOR:
Monica Gunning
ILLUSTRATOR: Elaine Pedlar
PUBLISHER: Children’s Book
Press, 2004
ISBN-13: 978-0892391899
MINISTRY EXPECTATIONS
English Language
Oral Communication
5e5, 5e8, 5e10, 5e16
Reading
5e29, 5e30, 5e31, 5e34
CURRICULUM CONNECTION EXPECTATIONS
Health and Physical Education
5p33, 5p42
MATERIALS
- Picture book listed above
- Journals
- Internet access

SPRING 2012
23
CURRICULUM INSERT | Social Justice Begins With Me
Community Engagement / Related Resources
After the student presentations, hold a class vote and select
one organization to support. Contact the organization to
find out what kind of support it may need. Students may be
able to volunteer or hold a fundraiser to support their chosen
organization.
This YouTube video, entitled “Homelessness in Canada:
Take Action Now”, was created to raise awareness about
homelessness in Canada.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7JcnjabJwk&feature=related
SYNOPSIS
After Zettie’s father died, she and her mother left Jamaica
searching for a better life in the United States. Zettie and her
mom are both going to school, and her mom tries her best to
find work, but until then, they live an uncertain life in their car,
dreaming of a new home. A realistic portrait of homelessness
in an American city, this story brings to light the challenges of
many new and established Americans in creating a better life
for themselves and their families. Despite their challenges, it is
their love and determination that shines through.