English Language Arts, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • American Dream
  • Grade 11 ELA
  • John Cheever
  • Motif
  • Short Stories
  • Symbolism
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Images and Slogans of the American Dream

    Images and Slogans of the American Dream


    In this lesson, students will revisit the American Dream in Unit 1. In pairs, they will find images and slogans to use as the basis for a collage that represents their view of the American Dream.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Revisit Unit 1 and consider what aspects of the unit your students fully grasped. Think of ways to use this common understanding as a jumping-off point for this lesson.
    • Consider what guidelines you will provide for the collage presentations.
    • Make sure students submit their essays during this lesson.

    Reflection on the American Dream

    • Remind students of their study of Unit 1, emphasizing points you feel your class fully grasped in that unit.
    • Let students know how you want them to share their reflections—perhaps with a partner or with the full class.


    Think back to your study of the American Dream in Unit 1. Take a few minutes to respond in writing to the following question.

    • What, in your opinion, is the American Dream?

    Open Notebook

    When you finish, follow your teacher’s instructions for sharing your ideas.

    Collage Development

    • Put students in pairs for this activity.
    • If feasible, have students search for images online and then create a digital collage. If that isn't possible, a physical collage works well, too.
      • ELL: As in Unit 1, keep in mind that students’ ideas about what the American Dream is—and their feelings towards it—may vary greatly. Encourage all students to be respectful of their classmates’ ideas, even if they don’t share the same ideas.
    • Have students assign themselves roles. One student can do the actual “assembling” of the collage, with another student assisting and providing feedback while continuing to search for images.
    • Encourage creativity!
    • SWD: For students who have difficulties expressing themselves verbally, this task can be a time to shine. Be aware of students’ strengths and limitations if you choose to pair them up yourself.

    Work Time

    Work with your partner to find images and create a collage.

    • Find images and words or phrases that you and your partner feel best represent the American Dream of today’s America.
    • Then create a collage together according to your teacher’s instructions.

    Collage Nameplate

    • Students should decide together on the style of the nameplate (poem, description, found, or original) and write it together.
      • SWD: Review the purpose and characteristics of a nameplate, to give students clear guidance on your expectations for their work. Give students two or three specific ideas that need to be included in their presentations, to structure their work together.
    • If you think it's necessary, remind your students about how to give an effective presentation. Let them know what information you expect them to share in 2 minutes.

    Work Time

    • Together with your partner, create a short, written piece to serve as a nameplate for your collage. This can be original or found. The written piece should supplement a viewer’s understanding of your collage.
    • Prepare a 2-minute presentation to tell your classmates about your collage.

    You will share your collage with the full class in the next task.

    American Dream Collage Share

    • These should be 2-minute presentations.
    • If feasible, have student share their collages digitally.
    • The rest of the class should write down thoughts, comments, and questions as they view the presentations of other classmates.
    • Direct students to add to the reflection that they began in Task 1.
    • ELL: Allow students who may have difficulty listening to presentations and taking notes simultaneously, to work in pairs or pause after each presentation for quiet note taking time.


    • Share your collages with the rest of the class in a 2-minute presentation.
    • As you listen to your classmates’ presentations, write down your thoughts, comments, and questions.

    Collage Reflection

    • Let students know how you want them to share their responses.
    • Ask students to continue adding to the reflection they began in Task 1 so they can track the evolution of their own ideas during the lesson.
    • Project or display the question for easier viewing.


    Take a few minutes to reflect in writing on the following question.

    • Which collage, besides your own, do you feel best represents the American Dream? Why? Be specific.

    Submit your response to your teacher.