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



Lesson created on 8/3/1999 3:21:39 PM EST.
Last modified 11/22/1999 3:04:14 PM EST.


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Abstract  (help)


While the first lesson focused on a short story by a Mexican woman, this second lesson revolves around a poem by a Chinese woman. Both pieces of literature concentrate on the importance of names to the writers and/or characters, as well as 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 reminds students of the previous lesson and introduces the objectives and agenda for part 2. 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. Teacher should circulate throughout the room during the poetry charting exercise, providing guidance yet allowing the students to come to their own conclusions about the poem's meaning. NOTE: An alternative homework assignment may be necessary for those students living in alternative homes (i.e. with family members other than their parents or in foster care).

Assessment  (help)


1) Symbol exercise and pair/share-Students should receive participation points for completing these tasks. 2) Poetry reading charting assignment criteria-Each box should contain a response written in complete sentences. The goal here is not correct answers; instead, students are expected to attempt to deconstruct the poem. 3) Names chart criteria-Each box should contain answers written in complete sentences. These answers should contain evidence from the poem. 4) Homework: Students interview parents/family members about their names and write their responses. Criteria-The written portion should be at least * page long, written in complete sentences, with proper punctuation. The response should contain as much of the following as possible: why their name was chosen, who chose it, what were the alternatives, what does their name mean, and how their parents feel about their name now. If any of the above items are missing, the response should explain why.

Student Activity  (help)


1) Dispatch-a)Teacher provides students with large index cards, which are folded in half lengthwise. b)On one side of the outside of the folded card, students write their first names large and clear. c)On the other side of the outside of the folded card, students draw a symbol which they feel represents themselves. NOTE: Teachers may need to explain the concept of a symbol prior to this activity. It might also be necessary to draw some examples on the board, such as a heart or peace sign. d)On the inside of the card, the students write a short explanation of why their symbol represents them. 2) Pair/Share-Students either choose a partner or one is chosen for them by the teacher. The students exchange cards and observe their partner's symbol. Each partner guesses why their partner's symbol represents them without reading the explanation on the inside. The partners then explain their reasoning to each other. The teacher calls on either volunteers or victims to present their partner's symbols. These students must share both their initial interpretation and their partner's explanation. 3) Teacher guides students through creating a chart with 6 boxes (2 rows, 3 columns). The columns are labeled 1st reading, 2nd reading, and 3rd reading. The rows are labeled "What I know/understand" and "Questions I have/What I don't understand." 4) Teacher reads the poem aloud to the class. The students then fill out the 1st reading column, recording what they understand about the poem so far and things that they don't understand. 5) Teacher reads the poem aloud a second time. The students fill out the 2nd reading column. 6) Students read the poem independently. Then they fill out the 3rd reading column. 7) Teacher breaks the class into several groups, from 4-10 students each. The groups are instructed to share what they understand about the poem so far by going around the circle, ensuring that everyone participates. Then the students go around the circle again, this time asking their questions. If any of the group member's can answer the questions, they may jump in at any time. Finally, the groups decide on the poem's meaning and select a leader to present their findings. The teacher should be circulating and facilitating during this entire activity. 8) The groups take turns presenting their ideas, which are recorded by the teacher on the board/overhead/chart paper. The teacher then clarifies any remaining misconceptions while respecting the individual perceptions. 9) Teacher guides students through creating a second chart with 12 boxes (4 columns and 3 rows). The columns are labeled "Names," "Given By," "Meaning," and "Reflections." Through teacher prompting, the students list "Nellie," "Nah Lei," and "Lai Oy" in the first column. The students must then use the poem to fill out the rest of the chart. For lower-level or Sheltered classes, students may be separated into three collaborative groups, each group working on only one name. 10) Teacher facilitates discussion to compare answers and illuminate the correct responses. 11) Homework-Students must ask parents/family members about their names and write their responses. The written portion should be at least * page long, written in complete sentences, with proper punctuation. The response should contain as much of the following as possible: why their name was chosen, who chose it, what were the alternatives, what does their name mean, and how their parents feel about their name now. If any of the above items are missing, the response should explain why.

Technology Requirements/Integration  (help)






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Career Connection to Teaching with Technology
USDOE Technology Innovation Challenge Grant
Marshall Ransom, Project Manager
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