The Study of a Zip Code: Tulsa's Invisible City

byKrista Baxter Waldron


In 1921, Tulsa, already a racially divided city, was the site of one our country's worst race riots. Ninety years later the city is just as cleanly divided by race and economics. If a pedestrian stands at the corner of Peoria, a major north/south street, and Admiral, the east/west street that bisects the city through downtown and creates the North and South designations of the two parts of the city, she experiences a phenomenon that is striking, but probably not unique to many American cities. Looking south, the pedestrian sees an older neighborhood in the midst of a resurrection; in fact, the new hip café just within view is called the Phoenix Café, appropriately. The residents are almost exclusively white. Looking north, she would see almost exclusively black Tulsans. This distinction extends a mile or two east and west, but with little exception to the northern and southern extremes of town.

Again, with but few exceptions, we see contrasting economies straddling the same geographic split. Some of Tulsa's wealthiest residents live along several miles of South Peoria; on the other side of Admiral, the farther north you live, the greater the poverty you probably live in. This is the center of life for most of my students. This is where they live, have lived, spend time with their friends. When Tulsans talk of north Tulsa, it is usually in the context of crime, poor housing, or bad schools. Most Tulsans choose not to venture that far north. It is an inhabited ghost town; indeed, it is Tulsa's invisible city. In the collective consciousness of our city it has achieved mythical status as a place populated by only the poor and criminal.

I don't know if my students realize how much they are a product of their circumstances and geography. I want them to learn not only that they are, but also that they can control how they interact within them. They can become actors instead of props. While their lives and environment can be full of strife, these energetic, creative young people have the ability to see and create beauty around them. It is human nature to do so. This unit will cause them to reflect on their environment and undertake an academic study of it, and to find and engage in its manifestations of beauty.


The anchor text for our Invisible Cities seminar has been Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. In it, during long conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, Polo tells story upon story about cities he has encountered in his travels. Or perhaps they are in his head. Or maybe they are simply dozens of manifestations of Venice. This distinction is irrelevant. It is the cumulative effect of all those ambient impressions that caused me to think about our rich and varied relationships with our cities. I found these ideas to be connected to my unit and to some unspoken thoughts I had been harboring about it. Some of these cities are defined by their residents, some by what is there or not there. Others are identified by the perceptions of visitors or the imagination of Marco Polo. Nothing is clear or certain in the narrative except that cities are complex places, and that we have deep, emotional connections to them through experience, memories, symbols, and history. Our relationships with our cities define who we are by how they capture our imagination and how they reflect what we love, hate and fear.

There are stereotypes associated with parts of any city, but as most Tulsans rarely venture north of Peoria, stereotypes and generalizations are what they depend on when they must make a determination about North Tulsa. In Chicago, City on the Make, Nelson Algren's raw passage on the "Negro" condition in mid-century Chicago illustrates uncomfortably a truth that my students must contend with in a more modern fashion: "The Negro is not seriously confronted here with a stand-up and head-on hatred, but with something psychologically worse: a soft and protean awareness of white superiority everywhere, in everything, because it is as polite as it is impalpable." 1 It is a painful truth that informs many of the decisions my students make as they navigate their own city every day.

These ideas led me to look into the connection between place and identity. In his article, Hauge looks into several others' theories on the connections between the two. He concludes that place is a significant contributor to our sense of identity. "People affect places, and places (and the way places are affected) influence how people see themselves." 2 A symbiotic relationship exists between person and setting. The health of one depends to some extent on the health of the other. If my specific students unconsciously define themselves to a degree by their environment, they most likely do not see themselves as leaders, success stories, or agents of change. In the end, Calvino's novel proved to be a catalyst for de-familiarization for me, and hopefully the unit will do the same for my students as they investigate their geography and their role in it.

The students

My students would call themselves many things before they would call themselves students. Often they have been out of the classroom more than in it over the last two years. Inevitably, they are behind in credits and in their skill levels, especially with math and reading. The greatest number of my students' scores on last year's end-of-year Lexile test fell in the 2-4 th grade range. In the course of our shared experience, I've learned that many do not have some basic skills that we take for granted, like reading a clock or a map. Their lives, at least temporarily, have been defined by other experiences and situations, especially those that come out of generational poverty, physical and mental trauma, criminal behaviors, and substance abuse. Many have full time jobs, children, or generally difficult existences. Attendance and family involvement, consequently, are a challenge them. They tend to be between fifteen and twenty, but we usually have a few as young as thirteen and fourteen. Last year about 85 percent were Black, and about 85 percent were male. Their living situations are often non-traditional and inadequate. All of our students are involved in the juvenile justice system and are there because their probation counselor, their guardian, and our director think it is the right place for them.

The school

We are supported by our local district as well as the county juvenile justice department. This is the last stop for most of them academically. It is a therapeutic, not punitive, program with some emphasis on social justice. Instruction is personalized as much as possible, both in delivery and content. We are responsible for meeting state and federal mandates, but often our first objectives for our students are to teach them how to "do school" again and to reintroduce them to society as productive, engaged citizens who are on the other side of the justice system. Interventions for behavioral problems or social service and legal appointments will interrupt the unit flow for some students, but our flexible schedule allows for accommodations. This year I will have a social worker partner who will absorb some of these interruptions so that I can focus more with students, as they are ready, on the academic objectives at hand.

We face challenges that go along with the restrictions of being a small school (sixty students) with only four teachers. Because of budget cuts, we cannot offer fine arts ourselves. Classes necessarily tend to be multi-age and multi-grade and attempt to address experiences in the arts and the community. However, our small size also gives us flexibility, and we are able to leave the building in vans with little advance notice. The intimate nature of the school also allows for the cultivation of rewarding relationships among staff and students. This is essential; my students will need to be able to trust me, a white teacher from midtown Tulsa, to lead them through this investigation of their own territory.

The studied community

North Tulsa's perimeter is not clearly defined. For the sake of simplifying document searches and unit conditions, I focus on one area code—the part of it that is in Tulsa County, anyway—but some documents cover a wider area, still within what most anyone would informally consider deep North Tulsa. With pockets of exceptions, many of the houses are mid-century wood frame houses, varying only in their faded colors. Boarded up houses are not uncommon but trees are, relatively. The streets are generally quiet during the day. My students say they won't walk near their homes because it is not safe most hours, but they are miles from a grocery store and easy public transportation. The pool halls, dance halls, night clubs and "moving picture houses" of the fifties that provided entertainment for the residents are alive now only in memories and historical documents.

As I drove north and south along Peoria in my regular routine and considered documents as I accumulated them, it became clear that having a point of contrast would better illustrate through data, maps, and photographs what it means to live in Tulsa that far north. Two of my documents do this. Two and three miles south of Admiral are large, architecturally unique, well-maintained homes, many built by Tulsa's oil barons. People are out on the streets for exercise or with their dogs. They stop to talk to each other under large old trees. Nearby are an exclusive shopping area, public parks and rose gardens, and large art museums.

No place is without beauty, however, and certainly not North Tulsa although it is not prevalent in the landscape. Surprisingly large Lake Yahola is an unexpected, broad, shimmering water feature. Deer cross Peoria into a green belt on foggy mornings, in spite of the urban nature of the place. A car wash at 36 th Street North is always alive with music, flirting adults, and very fancy cars that do tricks. To reference a Tupac poem with which we will begin the unit, there are roses in the concrete, here and everywhere.

There are two exceptions in my descriptions of North Tulsa, one in a middle class housing development with a diverse population. The other is an unusually high hill around which flat North Tulsa spreads. This hill that covers about one third of a square mile is covered with large, unique, and well-maintained houses that share the best view of downtown. Its inhabitants tend to be white and upper middle class.

My own investigation into North Tulsa on paper was both rewarding and discouraging—and full of surprises. I spent a week at my public library with two librarians who began to share my enthusiasm for my unit and my emotional responses to some of my findings. I discovered new databases and map sources. I discovered heartbreaking stories and statistics. The older articles in the vertical files all had "Negroes" penciled across their tops. In a subsequent, more politically correct reorganization of the files, a library employee marked thickly through the word and wrote "African Americans" beneath. The change suggests the transitory nature of language in spite of the static nature of the problems within the files.


My objectives for this unit are both academic and non-cognitive. Their school experiences have managed to keep most of them from exposure to Common Core State Standards (CCSS or CC) thus far. The Common Core language arts assessment would send most of my students marching right back out of the classroom door in fear and frustration, but they deserve the same chances to succeed as those in traditional high schools. I will introduce them to focused, strategic, and critical reading and thinking skills that allow them, with practice, to seek and form connections among a variety of texts. In this case, maybe a census report, a news story about their neighborhood and a housing study. They will make inferences from individual and collections of documents. As writers, they will hone their skills at reflective writing and develop skills to help them organize complex ideas and to execute them in an appropriate prose form. The minimum product will be measured improvement, comfort and enthusiasm at reading and responding to document-based writing tasks.

I have two main non-cognitive objectives. First, I want them to develop a panoptic view of their community with themselves as an operational center. They should have an awareness of how they are very much a product of their environment but also an agent of activity, whether to degrade it or improve it. I think it is human nature to continue to corrupt something that has fallen into disrepair. Rather than to perpetuate this kind of fatalism, I want them to be inspired to respect their environment. Second, I want them to condition themselves to see the beauty—sometimes obvious, often hidden—around them so that as agents of change they may be more inclined to choose the latter option, to improve it. The artistic Soul of my City maps at the end of the unit will be a final chance for students to demonstrate the "roses" that they encounter personally.

The Unit

This geography of North Tulsa—with a focus in and around one specific zip code—will be the basis of our exploration of the students' shared community. Two documents will focus on the contrast between nodes several miles both north and south of the Admiral/Peoria intersection in order to further illuminate qualities that define the North Tulsa where my students mostly live, and to explore the stereotypes associated with the place. The documents here, with the exception of one poem, tend towards the field of social sciences for the purpose of addressing specific objectives; other units throughout the year will feature literature and informational texts more specific to the CCSS for language arts.

Timeline and structure

The unit will take five to six weeks—more than half of a nine week semester. It may share time with a novel and other work we need to complete. The unit has three distinct segments. In the first, after reading and discussing Tupac Shakur's The Rose that Grew from Concrete to set our stage, we will spend one week defining "North Tulsa," or whatever they want to call their geographic area, from their perspective and others' via on-the-ground research along with artistic and written renderings. We'll take as our tools cameras, colored pencils and notebooks. On our large city map, we'll locate homes and favorite haunts.

The second segment is the academic centerpiece, filled with document studies and written responses to those documents. We'll use a variety of reading and writing strategies. We will cover one document every day or two, totaling six over a two week period. For each, we will complete one task of synthesis or analysis, usually written. The summative written assessment for this section will cover three of these texts. I'll be flexible about which six documents I use from my set in attempts to be sensitive to my students' interests and feedback. We can add to our big map locations for some of the schools, pool halls, and night clubs mentioned in our documents.

We'll revisit Tupac's poem upon beginning our third and final segment. This last phase of the unit will have us looking at the area with different glasses on, finding the beauty in geography, people, programs, architecture, and any other manifestation we can. This segment will cover up to two weeks and will have us back out of the classroom part time. In our seminar this year, we learned that there are many ways of looking at and experiencing a city. In and out of class, other members shared their maps, journeys, and perspectives. They were reflected in and inspired by some of our seminar readings. After our meeting one day, I walked through the bookstore to think and stumbled on a book of very personal poetic maps of Manhattan. Mapping Manhattan: a Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers is the inspiration behind the final project. After we use map-reading strategies and terms (scale, title, direction, purpose, legend) both to learn to read and use city maps in a practical sense, we'll translate these into map-making skills to create our own maps. For this map, students will create a Soul of my City map of the area we will have investigated—or their own, should they live outside of it and choose to do so.

This unit is adaptable for many secondary classrooms for students who live in socio-economically challenged areas, but much of it is adaptable for any zip code or geographic area, provided the teacher is willing to research and assemble documents for his/her students' geographies. This has, in fact, been a most fun and rewarding part of creating my unit.

Writing strategies

We'll be visiting basic prose and paragraph practices such as use of organization, topic sentences, thesis statements, and transition language at a basic level, adding complexity towards the end. We will compose in reflective and expository modes to explore each document alone or grouped with others. We'll use graphic organizers and collaboration to help create increasingly complex responses to our documents. They will learn proper text citation through modeling, mostly on the Promethean board. I use rubrics of varying styles and complexity for all but ungraded assignments like journals or comprehension checks. Rubrics are powerful tools to empower students to own their own writing and to learn from their peers'. Finally, we'll do some work with a few Common Core type summative assessments.

Reading strategies

We will study these texts for audience, style, purpose, content, and format, as appropriate the documents at hand. I will use a variety of comprehension strategies that have been successful with my students in particular. Some will be done collaboratively, some individually. Summarization is a necessary skill that many of my students have yet to master. They will practice summarizing part or all of the four prose documents. Guided reading, both oral and accompanied by graphic organizers, as well as targeted response prompts, are effective with struggling older readers. One targeted response tactic is for students to highlight passages they agree with, disagree with, or don't understand in different colors. This appropriate for pieces about which they are likely to have strong opinions. Use of some of these guided and oral reading strategies is reinforced by Rogers-Adkinson, et al. This will be my first year with a Promethean board (or Smart board); I will use that to teach annotation and to work through written pieces as a class.

We will also hone skills in reading maps, charts, and graphs—traditionally weak skills for my students. For charts and graphs, the students will summarize their findings in sentences or paragraphs and convert that information to an alternate form, such as from a table to a pie chart, to show their understanding of content.

Document selection

Some of my students seize up when most reading material is placed in front of them. Years of unsuccessful literary experiences have left them anxious. A selection of informational or non-fiction text would be especially discouraging to even more of them. Knowing that I needed to introduce them to just such examples caused me to be cautious. I knew they had to be engaging, relevant to their lives, short or segmented. I thought that if they had unexpected content that I could hold their attention a little longer. Research for a unit last year led me to what proved to be accurate criteria for at-risk youth. Diana Rogers-Adkinson and her team give four key criteria for text selection for use in the reading instruction of adjudicated youth. First, it should be culturally parallel to the lives of the students; second, the content should be meaningful to their environments and home lives; third, the content should be readily engaging; and fourth, texts should be inclusive and respectful, avoiding middle class success stories and representing instead the "limits of resources of students and families within the curriculum, varying models of family systems." 3

Looking more closely this year into best text selection for Black males, I repeatedly found support for similar criteria to that for A.W. Tatum's "enabling texts." 4 Tatum's four criteria were that they "promote a healthy psyche"; "reflect an awareness of the real world"; "focus on the collective struggle of African Americans"; and "serve as a road map for being, doing, thinking, and acting." 5 The last three especially speak to this unit.

The CCSS balance the qualitative and quantitative measurements of text complexity against consideration of the task and the motivation and knowledge of the reader (cite this?). My objective is to not scare them off—and hopefully even engage them—while I introduce them to new genres of documents and new kinds of analytical writing that will help them be successful on a CC assessment. I do not want them to be intimidated by challenging vocabulary or overly complex writing samples, but I do want them to have experience with non-prose information like maps and graphs. Reading levels are low enough that these will be challenging enough for some. Their patience should be reserved for the potentially complex written task.

The Documents

The packet of documents I have compiled for classroom use are intended to engage them with provocative information about their community so that they are willing to engage in some more rigorous enterprise. These documents contain narratives written by government agencies, maps, graphs, news stories. As I start the unit, I may add or alter documents in the interest of student buy-in. The third and final segment of the unit will include one poem.

Study of Conditions among the Negro Population of Tulsa by Interracial Committee of Y.W.C.A., 1938. The document is arranged in four sections. (1) Health and sanitation: includes such details as how many beds were available for Negroes at the white hospitals, the higher-than-average rates of tuberculosis, and the lack of city garbage collection and disposal in some areas of North Tulsa; (2) Education in North Tulsa: documents the students and unexpectedly good standards at the few all-black schools. Of special interest to my students would be some of the areas of study available to students including sign-making and maid school, millenary, and home beautification and Negro history; (3) Recreation: documents the lack of parks and playgrounds but a proliferation of public dance halls, pool halls, night clubs moving picture houses, and recreational parlors. Very few of these exist in North Tulsa today. It suggests a community that is energetic and playful; (4) Delinquency: is the section my students will have the most fun with, probably. The presence and job description of a probation officer is little changed and fairly forward thinking; however, the "Areas of Delinquency" page shows that what were safer areas then are more dangerous now, and vice versa. It also shows the percentage for each type of delinquency—very different from today—and prevailing types by area. This section lists the causes and methods of rehabilitation of delinquents and ends with the statement that ordinances not enforced in North Tulsa include those at pool halls, dance halls, beer parlors and marble machines.

The Tulsa Urban League Presents a Concise Review of Housing Problems Affecting Negroes, 1958. This eleven page document gives a raw account description of the housing situation in North Tulsa. It documents conflicts arisen out of integration of below-middle-class whites in some fringe areas and gives very vivid descriptions of below-standard plumbing, waste disposal, and uninhabitable buildings and the outcomes of such conditions, such as increased crime and health issues. However, it also lays out a plan to categorize the housing conditions at the time and to address them by category and priority as prescribed by the new trend of Urban Renewal. At the time, 65% of the North Tulsa homes in question were deemed "sub-standard and beyond rehabilitation." 6 The first half of the document contains some gritty and startling detail. The second half which is more prescriptive is appropriate for practice in outlining and categorization and organization of information. A contrast to the previous document indicates that living conditions in North Tulsa deteriorated during the previous twenty years.

"Half Tulsa's Negroes Live in Poverty," a newspaper story from 1965. The article revisits the Urban Renewal movement mentioned in the 1958 document. While it reports a ten percent decrease in the number of sub-standard homes, the pace for change is slow. A panel discusses the need for education and training programs for semi-skilled jobs for the community. 7 With this third document, we can begin to trace economic and social trends in the community.

"North Tulsa Development Plan Sought" a newspaper story from 1997. 32 years after my previous article, the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce is spending a $70,000 grant to bring in someone to research a strategic plan to improve jobs and life in North Tulsa. 8 A poignant contrast to the other news article that underscores the fact that little has been done to improve the quality of life in the community.

"Sample Map for Phoenix Rising," 2013. This map is of our studied zip code. It indicates convenience stores and grocery stores. By this map, there are thirteen sources to buy food in the area. 9 Students can draw conclusions between this map and the two news stories or contrast it to their expectations of the 1938 report.

"Tulsa City County Map," 2013. We will use this map as a practice map for map skills. 10 Throughout the unit, we can mark homes, favorite spots and sites from our documents that no longer exist.

"Business Comparison" chart, 2013. This table shows businesses and jobs within a one-, two-, and three-mile radius of our key node in North Tulsa. The farther one gets from the center of this circle, the more jobs there are. 11

"Educational Attainment Total," 2013 contrasts North Tulsa and Midtown zip codes. This draws a clear connection between education and standard of living, an important message for my students. 12

"Consumer Expenditure Comparison," 2013. This table contrasts spending habits between North and South Tulsa zip codes and covers everything, including food, technology, alcoholic beverages, books, and travel. 13 There are some surprises and students will have fun drawing their own conclusions about the stories behind the numbers.

"Mosaic Household Comparison," 2013. Within a one-, two-, and three-mile radius of our key node, this table measures the percentage of residents who figure into each of twenty socio-economic categories, created for marketing purposes. 88.7% of the households within the central mile fall into the lowest measurement of economic worth. 14 While the overall impression of these results is the same, different skills are needed to comprehend the content. Together, though, they do show the dynamic nature of socio-economic measurement by geography and issue.

Other documents measure or contrast internet use and access, grocery purchases, reading materials, and housing units.

Classroom Activities

First Activity: Mind vs. Map

The purpose of this first activity—or small set of activities—is to determine what and where North Tulsa is in terms of popular perception and the geographical map. We may find that they need some reconciliation. It anticipates disagreements students may have about such specifics. This will also be our opportunity to address stereotypes associated with the area. The unit's one preceding activity is the reading and discussion of The Rose that Grew from Concrete.

The Process

My classes are small, so I'll do this in two groups or four, with two groups looking into the same question. One side will make a list determining key characteristics of what they consider to be North Tulsa. The other group will explore what they consider to be the perceptions of North Tulsa by outsiders from South Tulsa or Midtown, for example. We will compare, contrast, and discuss the lists. The following day, we'll pack into one of our vans to explore the area. With the guiding question, "Are we in North Tulsa now?" we'll collect qualifying traits to be compared to the lists we made in class. We'll be sure to drive through the two exceptions I mention. Along the way, we'll take pictures with students.


Donors Choose will be our source for a set of disposable cameras and the funds to develop them. The vans are easy for us but may be difficult for other schools. This may be a walkable activity in some urban communities.

Second Activity: Pictures to Words

This activity is first for the purpose of reflection from the previous activity. What do they make of our explorations? Additionally, I anticipate problems with organization and development, as these are consistent struggle with my students. This activity will provide practice in both areas which will be essential to their success in writing CCSS assessments and most other kinds of writing.

The Process

After reviewing some descriptive writing techniques we will begin the year with, to get them to think concretely about what they know, I'll put all of the pictures (or a representative selection) out on a table and ask the students to write what they find. After they've completed a paragraph or so, we will sort them, finding categories and groupings that make sense. We will use these classifications or groupings to help us organize our thoughts. They might see paragraphs or an outline in their re-grouped pictures that guide writing. Together we'll create a simple outline that comes out of our picture organizing session on the white board or Promethean board. They will use the common outline to write individual pieces. We'll contrast this process and outcome with the previous attempt at writing and reflect on how much easier the writing is with organized thoughts and planning. I want this to be a process of discovery; I will not use a rubric and we will not revise past the first draft.

Third Activity: Finding the Past through Active Reading

Literacy and writing are the centerpiece of the unit, and the first document we will look at is the first six pages of the 1958 Urban League review of housing problems. It should elicit a variety of emotions and reactions. This should be interesting reading even to my resistant students. We will use several reading strategies followed by an informal written response in their journals or as an independent piece.

The Process

The first thing we'll do is skim through the document to make a list of words or terms that draw our attention for any reason, maybe because they are controversial, maybe because they are unknown. Terms might and should include Negroes, urban renewal, sub-standard, population, sanitary, among others. These words should also pique the interest of the readers before we begin. Along the way, they will have the opportunity to highlight or underline any passage that intrigues them. At the end, we'll discuss some of the commonly highlighted passages. They will finish the lesson with a two-part written piece. Their first task is to summarize main ideas. The second is to respond to how they felt and what they thought as they were reading. I will encourage them to have at least 200 words to encourage development.


Each student will need a personal copy of the partial document so that she can respond independently. Highlighters or colored pens or pencils will be helpful.

Fourth Activity: Extended Constructive Response Practice

We will have spent time with our full selection of texts by the time we arrive at this writing activity. We will have completed several writings that ask students to make connections between texts and that ask them to cite text for support. This is the last activity of the central and most academic part of the unit. The prompt is modeled after sample extended constructive response questions, which focus on CCSS for writing.

The Process

Each student will have their copies of four selections from our document set. As a group, we will look at their sources, content, intended audiences, subject, and tone. We will use this information to create graphic organizers, one of which will be a timeline of publication (from 1938 to present). Using these documents, their graphic organizers, and any other assignments from the unit, and a rubric, they will respond to the following prompt. Because my classes are small, I have the opportunity to review their work and rubric in a one-on-one meeting.

The Prompt

Describe one problem that is consistent among all of the documents. Trace the development of the problem and solutions as you can infer from each successive document. Explain your findings with at least one citation from each of the documents. Use your rubric to guide your work and revision.

Fifth Activity:

Perhaps the most important section of this unit is the last. My students need to have pride and appreciation for their community even though circumstances and history may have made it difficult. They need to see that as agents of change that they are not beginning at zero. Beauty exists already; they will find it and document it.

The Process

The Rose that Grew from Concrete will be set the tone for this last unit section. Having read the poem to understand it previously, we will discuss what it has to do with the rest of our unit. We will pursue beauty—the roses—in the community by several methods. First, we will go back out looking for it in the season, the geography, and the structures. Again, we will take pictures, but this time we will also take drawing paper. Second, each student will be responsible for finding one citizen of North Tulsa who is an agent of positive change. Third, each student will be responsible for finding a story from North Tulsa's past that entertains or inspires them. As at-risk students some of them are best able to showcase their knowledge and talents through visual means. This part of the unit provides balance in many ways.

Using as a source and inspiration Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers, students will create their own maps of what they consider to be their beautiful North Tulsa. While they will be artistic and highly individualized, they will each share the purpose of documenting the bright spots in the community. They can use all of the resources they've been collecting.


Simple North Tulsa maps can be produced by the Tulsa City County Library and reproduced. We will need a variety of art supplies and our photographs.

Sixth Activity:

A few times a year we have after-school dances. We would replace one of these with a simulation of a 1930s dance hall like one of those that thrived in North Tulsa at the time. I would involve the whole school (of sixty students). This likely activity was a suggestion from my seminar leader whose theater experience helped to shape my unit activities to involve all of the senses. This activity engages varied learning styles and ground students in their cultural history.


1. Algren, Nelson. "Love is for Barflies." In Chicago: City on the Make, 45.

2. Hauge, Ã…shild Lappegard. "Identity And Place: A Critical Comparison Of Three Identity Theories, "44-51.

3. Rogers-Adkinson, Diana, Kristine Melloy, Shannon Stuart, Lynn Fletcher, and Claudia Rinaldi. "Reading and Written Language Competency of Incarcerated Youth," 197-218.

4. Hitson, Amanda . "Building a Bridge to Literacy for African American Male Youth." Lecture, A Call to Action for the Library Community from UNC School of Library Science, 6.

5. Ibid., 6.

6. Nunn, Mrs. William , Dr. Charles E. Christopher, and Marion M. Taylor. A Concise Review of the Housing Problems Affecting Negroes in Tulsa, 11.

7. Tulsa World, "Half Tulsa's Negroes Live 'In Poverty'."

8. Rutherford, Dan. "North Tulsa Development Plan Sought."

9. Alteryx. "DemographicsNow." DemographicsNow.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.


Algren, Nelson. "Love is for Barflies." In Chicago: City on the Make. 60th anniversary edition ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. 45.

Hitson, Amanda. "Building a Bridge to Literacy for African American Male Youth." Lecture, A Call to Action for the Library Community from UNC School of Library Science; Institute of Museum and Library Services; North Carolina Central University, Chapel Hill, June 3, 2012. A.W. Tatum's "enabling texts" criteria helped me to further refine my selection of documents for student use. While some might be provocative, they would certainly be engaging and personally relevant.

Calvino, Italo. Invisible cities. San Diego: Harvest, 1972.

Cooper, Becky. Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers. New York: Abrams Image, 2013.

Alteryx. "DemographicsNow." DemographicsNow. (accessed June 19, 2013).

Tulsa World, "Half Tulsa's Negroes Live 'In Poverty'," January 6, 1965.

Hauge, Ã…shild Lappegard. "Identity And Place: A Critical Comparison Of Three Identity Theories1." Architectural Science Review 50, no. 1 (2007): 44-51. My research in this area was unexpected and admittedly brief. These were ideas that I intuitively suspected to be true. All three theories represented in this review support that idea, and I determined it to be sufficient to verify its inclusion.

Nunn, Mrs. William , Dr. Charles E. Christopher, and Marion M. Taylor. A Concise Review of the Housing Problems Affecting Negroes in Tulsa. Tulsa, OK: The Tulsa Urban League, 1958.

Rogers-Adkinson, Diana, Kristine Melloy, Shannon Stuart, Lynn Fletcher, and Claudia Rinaldi. "Reading And Written Language Competency Of Incarcerated Youth." Reading & Writing Quarterly 24, no. 2 (2008): 197-218. Their ideas on text selection for at-risk youth is repeated in many sources that come my way as an alternative school teacher.

Rutherford, Dan. "North Tulsa Development Plan Sought." Tulsa World, March 27, 1997. (accessed June 28, 2013).

Shakur, Tupac. The Rose that Grew from Concrete. New York: Pocket Books, 1999.

Study of the Conditions Among the Negro Population of Tulsa. Tulsa, OK: Unknown, 1938.

A Note about Classroom Resources

For the reading and writing section of this unit, I spent several days doing research. I started with U.S. Census reports since they are easy to access. My librarians introduced me to DemographicsNow which I assume was created to sort and warehouse marketing data. The amount and specificity of information they have on specific households and communities is astounding and a little frightening. Nevertheless, the source provided lots of engaging material in a variety of formats. The main North Tulsa library satellite provided help, as well. I found the 1938 and 1958 reports in vertical files. The documents I intend for student use are described earlier in the unit narrative.

Common Core Standards

Writing Standards for Grades 9-10

Text Types and Purposes: standard 2

Production and Distribution of Writing: standard 5

Reading Standards for Informational Text for Grades 9-10

Key Ideas and Details: standards 1, 2

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: standard 7

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