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The Importance of Being Me (Part 1)
Jennifer Levine
9-12    1-2 Hours

Lesson created on 8/3/1999 3:15:59 PM EST.
Last modified 11/22/1999 3:03:50 PM EST.

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Abstract  (help)

This is the first lesson in the unit "The Importance of Being Me," which is designed to be used within the first few days or weeks of the school semester/year. Furthermore, I intended this lesson to be used predominantly with ninth graders because each aspect of the unit introduces them to techniques I will use with them throughout the remainder of the school year to read, interpret, discuss, and write about literature. During this unit, students will read a short story by a Mexican woman, a poem by a Chinese woman, and an anonymous quote by an African American, all on the importance of names to the writers and/or characters and to their cultures. In addition to reading the aforementioned selections, students will employ a variety of strategies to interpret the texts, while also bringing in their own personal experiences. Students will interview family members about the origins and meanings of their names, as well as conduct internet research on these topics. As the culminating task, students will create a Hyperstudio presentation to reveal not only the history behind their names, but also how they identify themselves.

National Standards  (help)

English Language Arts Standard #1: Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works. #3: Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics). #4: Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes. #9: Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.

Pre-requisite Skills  (help)

Students should be able to read independently at a junior high school level or beyond. Students should be able to write complete sentences.

Teacher Information  (help)

Teacher introduces the unit, providing students with an overview of the objectives, agenda, and culminating task. Because this unit is geared toward the beginning of the year, teacher must explain each activity thoroughly, including the assessments for each prior to completion. Teacher should model each activity the first few times a new strategy is introduced. During pair/share, teacher should ask students what their partners wrote and why, since students are often uncomfortable speaking about themselves in new classroom situations. Teacher should collect all written work when using this lesson with ninth graders to foster accountability and responsibility.

Assessment  (help)

1) The dispatch, pair/share, and text markings should collectively receive participation points for the day, according to the completion of each task. 2) Quote/ Response chart criteria-Four quotes are copied correctly from the text, and they are surrounded by quotation marks. Each quote has a personal response listed. The responses can vary, but they must be written with at least 3 complete sentences with proper punctuation. 3)Homework: A short essay modeled after "My Name," in which students discuss their feelings about their names. Criteria-Essays should be at least * page, written in complete sentences with proper punctuation. Like Cisneros, students should use comparisons, poetic language, family history, etc.

Student Activity  (help)

1) Dispatch-Students write 5 likes and 5 dislikes about their name. 2) Pair/Share-Students either choose a partner or one is chosen for them by the teacher. The students share their list with their partners. The teacher then calls on either volunteers or victims to reveal what his/her partner wrote and why. 3) Teacher reads "My Name" aloud, while students mark the text. Students should be given instructions since they probably don't know how to mark a text. Giving simple guidelines such as "Circle words you don't understand" or "Underline parts that you enjoy" should help students get started. Prior to giving the lesson, teacher should also mark his/her text to provide examples. 4) Students read "My Name" aloud popcorn style. This allows the lower-reading-level students another chance to understand the text, while also allowing everyone to mark the text in more places. 5) Teacher leads a class discussion on the markings made in the text. Teacher should provide at least one example from his/her text prior to calling on students to share. Students should be prepared to explain why they marked the text as they did. 6) Students generate a list of the ways in which Esperanza uses/discusses her name in the text. Teacher or a student volunteer, writes the list on the board/overhead/chart paper. 7) Quote/Response chart-Teacher guides students through creating this chart, modeling at least one quote/response for the students to copy. At least 2 of the quotes/response should come from the markings made by the students. This chart should be completed in class so the teacher can monitor the students' understanding of the technique. If time runs out, it becomes homework. NOTE: Students new to this technique might need suggestions for the responses, such as: ask a question about the quote, explain the quote, relate the quote to a personal experience, etc. 8) Homework-Students must write a * page essay modeled after Cisneros' "My Name," in which they reflect on their own names. Like Cisneros, students should use comparisons, poetic language, family history, etc.

Technology Requirements/Integration  (help)

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Career Connection to Teaching with Technology
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