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House on Mango Street

    Teacher commentary and reflection

    I asked the essential question because it combines the strategy of compare and contrast and the social issue of the effects of war on people and, more specifically, on immigrants who have come to our country in the past and who will soon arrive again as a result of the current conflict in the Middle East. My students are ninth graders, mixed levels. Because many of them do not do homework dependably, I chose to read the entire book in class. The students are led through the lessons step-by-step to assure as much success across the board as possible.

    Student work was evaluated by scoring of content and effort through observation and by comparison to scoring guides.

    What worked is making sure everyone is together, working on the same issues, helping each other in groups, and feeling free to ask questions when they are confused.

    What also worked was breaking things down in steps as in preparing for the essay writing by knowing the topic at the beginning of the reading and charting as the book was read

    in order to have plenty of notes and quotes for the essay. Finally, we spent time reviewing the nature of their characterization with the help of the "Character Analysis" pdf file questions; we practiced comparisons with the Venn Diagram, and went over a suggested outline, and common vocabulary and syntax used for comparison. What didn’t work was some students were absent and got confused about the book, but we reviewed for them and some people shared their "Character Trait" pdf file charts with them.

    Possible revisions would be to have the reading done at home and test each day to make sure it was completed.

    The literary analysis papers on the rap and the novel and the "Knowledgeable Person Interview" pdf file may be challenging for GATE and other gifted students. They may want to do further background research related to Vietnam, the war and immigration from war torn countries, gangs in America, or interracial relationships. Slower students are cared for in the text of this unit, where everything is broken down for them.

    An extension for the unit would be to study Luis Valdez' antiwar play "The Buck Private." In this drama, Johnny is off to join the war as a private. Death, the narrator and character in the play says about Johnny, "Look at his face. Know what he's thinking? He's thinking….'Now, I'm a man!'"

    A further extension would be to show and discuss Jackson Katz' video "Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity."

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Urban Dreams
OUSD Curriculum Unit
Shadow of the Dragon
by Sherry Garland
Subject: English/ELD
Grade Level: 9th

Lesson Plan Author:
L. Delaney
School: Skyline High