This is the third 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.
While the first lesson focused on a short story by a Mexican woman, and the second lesson revolved around a poem by a Chinese woman, the third lesson covers an anonymous quote by an African American. Each of these 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.
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.
#7: Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
#8: Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
#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.
Students should be able to read independently at a junior high school level or beyond. Students should be able to write complete sentences. Students should have basic computer skills.
Teacher reminds students of the previous lesson and introduces the objectives and agenda for part 3. 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.
Prior to allowing students access to the internet, teacher should explain all legal and ethical issues, as well as get parent permission slips if required by your school site. During the internet research portion, teacher should use LCD projector to model using search engines while students copy teacher's movements at their own computers. Once the students begin working on their own, teacher should continuously circulate the room to deal with technical problems, as well as to monitor student's internet usage. Teachers should also instruct students on how to copy information from the internet and paste it to a word processing program.
NOTE: While preparing this lesson I conducted multiple searches on the internet for sites concerning the meanings and origins of names. Unfortunately, most of these sites-despite their multicultural claims-cater to Anglo names. If your classroom is as diverse as mine, you may need to provide books from your local library to make sure all students can find their names.
1) Nickname clusters and pair/share criteria-These should be graded for participation points.
2) Name Meaning/Origin-Students should list all possible meanings, origins, and variations of their names that they can find. In addition, each piece of data should have its corresponding URL so that the teacher can spot check for accuracy. The assessment for this assignment must be flexible since all students may not be able to find their names. *Alternative tasks/assessments: 1)students keep a record of all the sites/URLs they visited and were unsuccessful at finding their name; 2)students look up their middle names, last names, nicknames, etc. and keep a record of the sites/URLs they visited.
1.) Dispatch-Students cluster/brainstorm/spiderweb their nicknames. Students draw a circle in the middle of their paper and write their full, legal, given names inside. Students then create smaller circles branching off their center circle in which they write as many of their nicknames as possible.
2.) Teacher also clusters his/her nicknames on the chalkboard/overhead. My students loved this!
3.) Teacher facilitates a discussion about nicknames, using his/her own to start the conversation. Teacher mentions the nicknames, who gave the nicknames to him/her, how he/she felt about the nickname when it was given, and how he/she feels about it now. Teacher asks volunteers or victims to share their stories.
4.) Teacher passes out "Anonymous" and reads it to the class.
5.) Teacher facilitates discussion on the naming of African American slaves. This is a good time to revisit the nickname clusters and discuss the difference between choosing names/labels for ourselves and having those names/labels given to us.
6.) Teacher transitions into the idea of discovering the origins/meanings of our first (and/or last) names. Using the LCD projector, teacher demonstrates how to go online and how to conduct an internet search. Teacher may want to give the students several URLs with which to begin their search for their names. Meanwhile, students copy the teachers movements at their own computers. If necessary, place students in groups at computers.
7.) Students conduct internet searches for the origins/meanings of their names. When they find any relevant data, they copy and paste it to a word processing program. Students also copy and paste the corresponding URL for each piece of data.
Computers with word processing programs and internet capabilities, LCD projector, and printer.
Using word processing, saving files, printing documents, conducting internet searches, and creating bookmarks.