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Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Duration of this unit is approximately six weeks

Wild Swans is a very compelling but challenging book to read and teach, since it is not only a three-generation memoir but also a subjective view of 20th century Chinese history from 1909 through the death of Mao. Students reading below grade level may find this book extremely difficult due not only to the sophistication of the language and the complexity of the tale, but also due to the significant discussion of Chinese history and politics. Therefore, I have included the Social Science standards as well as the English/Language Arts Standards, because this book could also serve as an excellent introduction to modern China history.

This book is on our 12th grade Extended Literature Reading List and I taught it in the 2001-2002 school year to seniors in our Independent Study Program. Because I meet with students individually once per week, the following assignments were developed with that in mind. However, any of these assignments could be used in a regular classroom with few or no modifications. I also have included extremely explicit directions for writing assignments, which might normally not be written but rather disseminated through direct instruction.

The large number of assignments for this book are due to several factors:

  • Homework assignments in the Independent Study Program should approximately equal the amount of time a student would spend in a classroom
  • There is a range of assignments at varying levels of complexity to address individual student needs
  • I would not assign all of the following assignments except in rare cases, or on student request,. Rather, I would choose the assignments which best address the skills and needs of individual students

All of the assignments which follow help the student explore the Essential Questions. There is one large project, which is very complex and demanding: to examine one of the two Essential Questions through the exploration of a significant event in 20th century Chinese history. This is explained in detail in the handouts for the report.

Other assignments include a reading log, map studies, two analytical essays, suggestions for extended readings and film analysis, a timeline, recommendations for self-guided field trips in the San Francisco Bay Area and a book review as well as additional one-week Oral History "mini-project" There should be something here for every student!

Unit Overview
Essential Question
Lesson Plan & Handouts
Activities & Assignments
Concluding Assignment
Content Standards
Technology Integration
Teacher Commentary

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Urban Dreams
OUSD Curriculum Unit
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
by Jung Chang
Subject: English/Independent Study
Grade Level: 12th

Lesson Plan Author: Deborah Gordon
Organization: OUSD