Download the Curriculum

High Rise Stories: Voices From Chicago Public Housing Curriculum

In High Rise Stories, former residents of Chicago’s iconic public housing projects share gripping personal accounts of life in the now-demolished high rises. This corresponding curriculum guides students in exploring themes of community, displacement, and poverty in the wake of gentrification, all through a lens of listening to voices that have long been ignored. Students will engage in analysis, discussion, and creative reflection to explore the following questions:

  • How does an outsider’s opinion about a neighborhood or community differ from an insider’s?
  • How do people’s political perspectives and/or personal experiences shape their opinions about public housing and other societal issues?

Grades: Flexible and adaptable for middle school and high school.

Time Needed: Entire curriculum covers approximately 2.5 weeks of class time. However, each lesson can be taught separately. 


  • Students will examine the differences between legal rights and societal obligations through the lens of oral history and other primary source documents.
  • Students will explore the goals and efficacy of the police and the criminal justice system through analyzing first-person accounts of public housing residents.
  • Students will utilize the direct human experiences in High Rise Stories, along with other primary source documents, to create a democratically-adopted Housing Bill of Rights.

Download Free Curriculum

* Required fields
* Required fields
I want to recieve:
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

A powerful and authentic work. High Rise Stories captures the vibrant sense of community and home, as well as the challenges, that existed for those who lived in Chicago’s public housing developments, through a series of searing first person narratives. An important book and a very moving read.

Dave Isay
founder of StoryCorps

About the Oral Histories

In the gripping first-person accounts of High Rise Stories, former residents of Chicago’s iconic public housing projects describe life in the now-demolished high rises. These stories of community, displacement, and survival amplify the experiences of many who have long been ignored, but whose hopes and struggles exist firmly at the heart of our national identity.

Related Resources