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Six by Ten: Stories From Solitary Curriculum

The lessons in this unit use the powerful narratives from Six by Ten: Stories from Solitary to support teachers and students in forming a deeper understanding of the prison system. Students will explore themes such as the criminalization of trauma, the intersectionality of imprisonment and the effectiveness of our criminal justice system. The lessons also provide students with opportunities for students to practice oral history skills, encouraging students to be critical thinkers while nurturing their empathy and curiosity. Students explore the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of solitary confinement? What are the long-term effects of being held in isolation for years?
  • In what ways should we consider intersectionality as we plan systems, laws, and institutions in the United States?

Grades: High school, higher education. Adaptable for English learners

Time Needed: Entire curriculum covers approximately 2 weeks of class time. However, each lesson can be taught separately. 


  • Students will participate in group discussion to critically examine rights and policies related to incarceration.
  • Students will craft generative questions to deepen their understanding of immigrant detention and solitary confinement.
  • Students will utilize the oral history storytelling process to develop their own personal narratives.

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Six by Ten is a deeply moving and profoundly unsettling wake-up call for all citizens. The use of solitary confinement is deeply immoral and we must insist that it be banned in all of our nation’s prisons. Immediately.


About the Oral Histories

Six by ten feet. That’s the average size of the cell in which tens of thousands of people incarcerated in the United States linger for weeks, months, and even decades in solitary confinement. With little stimulation and no meaningful human contact, these individuals struggle to preserve their identity, sanity, and even their lives.

In thirteen intimate narratives, Six by Ten explores the mental, physical, and spiritual impacts of America’s widespread embrace of solitary confinement. Through stories from those subjected to solitary confinement, family members on the outside, and corrections officers, Six by Ten examines the darkest hidden corners of America’s mass incarceration culture and illustrates how solitary confinement inflicts lasting consequences on families and communities far beyond prison walls. 

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