Outline of 4-Week Unit, Two Classes Each Week
[Note: During the other class days of each week, Mr. DeLucia has the option of referring to these works and/or adding some additional readings in each category which I will make available to him. See "notes" under Bibliography. He will probably continue reading The House on Mango Street periodically through the next few weeks.]
Week One: Introduction to Unit
Observing Ordinary Objects: Artichoke, Water, Night
Class A: Poems of Pablo Neruda
"Ode to an Artichoke"
Class B: Poems of Octavio Paz
Week Two: Observing Others: Family Members and Fictitious Characters
Class A: Between Two Fires, Laura Esquivel
"At the Hearth"
Class B: Folktale from Chile, no author
"The Turquoise Ring"
Week Three: Observing the World: Fictitious Characters in Realistic Scenes
Class A: Folktale - "Paletón and the Musical Elephant"
By Jorge Ibargüengoitia, Mexico
Class B: Folktale from Ecuador, no author
Folktale from Puerto Rico, no author
Week Four: Observing Realistic Life: The Latino Section of Chicago
Class A: The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
Chapters 1 - 4 (or more)
Class B: The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
Chapters 5 - 8 (or more)
Mr. DeLucia and I will introduce this unit the day before my first regular meeting with the class. We will discuss what this unit is about, distribute a syllabus, and discuss the expectations for in-class work, homework and journal writing. We will also show students where we have assembled some "outside reading material" that they can peruse during the unit. These outside readings will include folktales from The Emerald Lizard and Where Angels Glide at Dawn, poems and short stories from The Tree is Older Than You Are, and selected poems - "Ode to a Tomato" and "Fleas Interest Me So Much" by Neruda and "Reliefs" and "Objects" by Paz. We will supplement this "outside reading" collection with additional material depending on student interests. Mr. DeLucia and I will mention that there will be a final writing project based on journal entries, and give some details at this time.
To introduce the topic in this initial class, we will look at a world map and identify Chile, noting that its geographical placement gives it the opposite climate from our own. We'll point out Santiago to pinpoint Neruda's home base. We'll identify other countries on the world map as we read further. As a reading introduction to the unit, we will hand out and share Neruda's wonderful musing "The Word" in which he stirs words, admires their texture, watches them swallow everything, and in the end, is a winner because he owns some words.
Every student will have a writing notebook to use during class sessions. One objective of this unit is to increase student vocabulary with word definitions given at the beginning of class from a Word Bank, and by encouraging students to develop vocabulary through "context clues". Every class will have some new vocabulary; every class will include an in-class writing exercise and at the end of Class B each week there will be a homework assignment related to observations made during that week.
Each student will also have a journal that they have been using since the beginning of the school year. During this unit, the students will write about observations they are making about themselves and the world around them. These entries will not be graded. Each student will do a final Latin American Literature project and will have several options for that project. They can make a poster about an author they liked which shows details about the author and his/her writings; they can write a short story or poem in the style of one of the authors studied which shows evidence of personal observation; or they can read additional works by one of the authors in this unit (or check with the teachers if they want to read works by a contemporary writer) and write an essay describing what they have learned about that author and his/her observations from this "outside" literature.
For this final project, students will be encouraged to make personal connections between their own experience with observing the world around them, and that of the unit authors. Mr. DeLucia and I will create a rubric for this project and make it available to each student at the beginning of the unit.
Detailed Lesson Plan 1: Week One, Class A
Objective: to introduce students to the astute observation powers of a renowned poet and to have the students discuss what kinds of things we can "see" both in reality, and in metaphors within poetry. The reading is Neruda's "Ode To An Artichoke".
Activity and Discussion: The class will open with a discussion about an actual, fresh artichoke with all its outer leaves intact. I will pass it around and everyone will take off a leaf (and eat it if they wish, although without melted butter the leaves are fairly bitter). I will also show several artichoke hearts. We'll discuss the difference between the fresh artichoke and the residual, soft heart. After reading Neruda's Ode aloud, I'll ask for volunteers to mention any metaphor in the poem. We'll think back to the fresh artichoke and think about what Neruda wants us to notice about the vegetable. I will introduce the question, "what does the author see and what does he want us to see?" And, "why would someone want to write an Ode to an artichoke?" Students will be encouraged to start writing in their unit journals about what they have learned so far.
Differentiated Instruction: Lower level readers can participate in the discussion to the extent of being able to describe the physical characteristics of an artichoke. All students will be reminded of the definition of a metaphor, and the difference between a metaphor and a simile. More advanced readers will be asked to comment on the style of the poem, how it is laid out, what they think Neruda intended by his "shopping list" style of writing. I will post vocabulary words in advance on word bank charts and we will discuss their meanings:
In Class Exercise: each student will write in his/her writing notebook about an ordinary food item which they can choose from the following: an orange, a banana, a raw or hard boiled egg, or a popsicle. Each of these items needs to be unwrapped before it can be eaten, and each has a soft heart. Students may write prose or try poetry for this assignment.
Assessment: Mr. DeLucia and I will read these notebook entries and score at 0, 1, or 2, a rubric the students are familiar with as it is used for CMT writing. We will be looking for descriptive details, sentence structure, and metaphors or other imitations of Neruda's writing style. With the student's permission, we will post good examples on in-class bulletin board.
Detailed Lesson Plan Two: Week 2, Class B
Objective: to introduce students to a group of characters who have unique reactions to the same situation - the need to leave home and make some money. The characters seek their fortunes in different ways, and react to each other's findings with a variety of emotions. The youngest brother finds only shells, one of which turns out to have a magic ring inside. There are elements of the familiar in this story (Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk, among others) and also the addition of magic in the form of a Turquoise Ring. We will expand vocabulary by using descriptive adjectives for the brothers and their adventures. The reading is "The Turquoise Ring", a Chilean folktale of unknown authorship from the folktale collection, The Emerald Lizard.
Activities and Discussion: After reading the tale aloud, I will ask for a synopsis of the story - what happened and in what order? What did each brother do? How did the brothers react to each other's fortune? What is special about the youngest brother, the "dreamer"? What additional adventures does he have? What would have happened if he hadn't found the ring? Should this be considered "earning a living"? What did the other brothers do with their money? What do the older brothers observe? The younger brother? What do we see in the story that could be considered positive? Negative? Together, we will make a chart for this synopsis and brainstorm about the qualities and characteristics of each brother.
In Class Exercise: Students will be given a handout and will be asked to fill in boxes about each brother and his qualities. They will also have a list of story events and be asked to order the main events in the story.
Differentiated Instruction: Adding to the work bank, we will consider several words from the text: turquoise, shimmering, invisible, escorted. Lower level readers will pair with more advanced readers to put the story pieces in the correct order. In circulating around the room during the in class exercise, we will ask students if their story pieces could be considered "main events" or less significant events.
Assessment: We will collect these handouts and assess on the 0, 1, 2 scale. For homework, students will be asked to write a paragraph describing a task they were given which was the same task that a sibling was given. In the paragraph they will be asked to describe which of them completed the task satisfactorily and why.
Detailed Lesson Plan Three: Week 4, Class B
Objective: To continue our discussion of powers of observation, chapters 4-8, The House on Mango Street, in this case Esperanza's vision of the world around her Chicago home. She considers Cathy, Rachel, Lucy and Gil the junk man who are outside her family, and tells us more about her relationship with her sister. As we see other characters come swirling through the story, we not only learn something about each of them, but we are also getting to know Esperanza and her special persona. She is an outsider, and an insider - what makes her part of each? Is she a hyphenated American? A Chicana? The focus of this lesson will be on how to take notes about the people while the chapters are being read aloud.
Activities and Discussion: From the chapters we will consider vocabulary: chandelier, raggedy, sassy, swan-neck, marimba. We will review what we already know about Esperanza and her family, where she comes from and where she is now. The students will already have a character chart so they can keep track of the different people Esperanza talks to and thinks about. How does Esperanza react to Cathy and her offer of friendship? How do they handle the sharing of the bike?
In Class Exercise: Each student will write a short paragraph about someone they know, someone they like or don't like, a friend or not, but not a family member. What do they observe about this person - has the person changed over the course of the relationship? How does the person treat the writer? The students will be encouraged to use recent vocabulary, and to use a simile about this person using some suggested character adjectives. At the end of the class some time will be set aside for journal entry writing with a focus on current observations.
Differentiated Instruction: Lower level readers will be given a hand out with prompts they can fill in as they do their paragraph writing. A suggested word bank will be on the bottom of the page. In circulating around the room, the teachers will make sure that these students have an accurate, useable character chart they can copy from as they think of someone they know. We will also check the notes they took during the chapter reading.
Assessment: The paragraphs will be collected and scored 0, 1, 2. The teachers will be looking for use of vocabulary and sentence structure. For homework, each student will be asked to pick one of the characters they have met so far in The House on Mango Street and write several paragraphs describing whether they would like to meet him/her and why. This assignment will also be evaluated on a 0, 1, 2 basis.