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Lesson Plan

Pairing Fiction With Poetry and Performance

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time At least eight 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Susan Ruckdeschel

Susan Ruckdeschel

New York, New York


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology






  • In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (Plume, 1995)

  • The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan (Ivy Books, 1992)

  • Morning Girl by Michael Dorris (Hyperion Books for Children, 1999)

  • Homecoming, New and Collected Poems by Julia Alvarez (Plume, 1996)

  • Jacklight by Louise Erdrich (Henry Holt, 1984)

  • Harper's Anthology of Twentieth Century Native American Poetry by Duane Niatum (HarperOne, 1988)

  • Songs from This Earth on Turtle's Back: Contemporary American Indian Poetry edited by Joseph Bruchac (Greenfield Review Press, 1983)

  • Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation edited by Victoria Chang (University of Illinois Press, 2004)

  • Computers with Internet access

  • Overhead projector and transparencies

  • Student journals

  • CD player, iPod (with speakers), or MP3 player(optional)

  • Audio recording device(optional)

  • PowerPoint(optional)

  • Interactive whiteboard(optional)

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1. Obtain and familiarize yourself with In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan, and Morning Girl by Michael Dorris.

  • In the Time of the Butterflies takes place in the Dominican Republic and is the story of three sisters active in the underground resistance movement opposing the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.

  • The Kitchen God's Wife discusses Chinese beliefs and values, and provides insight into the conditions faced by Chinese women during the 1930s.

  • Morning Girl is the story of an indigenous girl and her brother living in Hispanola during the time when Christopher Columbus first landed there.
2. Divide the class into three groups. Assign novels to groups based on interest and language proficiency level as determined by state assessments (e.g., beginner, advanced). Each group should read a different novel.

3. Choose several poems with a similar historical or cultural background for each novel. Students will compare the voice and theme of the poems and the novels (see Session 4). If you are using the three novels listed above, you might consult the following resources:

Make copies of each poem you select for all the students in the group that are reading the appropriate novel.

4. If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, reserve one 45-minute session in your school's computer lab (see Session 5).

5. Visit and familiarize yourself with the following websites:

Bookmark them on your classroom or lab computers.

6. Print off and make copies of the handouts as follows:

7. To help facilitate the prereading discussion in Session 1, write the following list on a piece of chart paper.

  • Setting: Preview the front cover, inside jacket, and back to determine where your novel takes place - the time, era, country, town, etc.

  • Author's purpose: Read the first page and author bio (inside or on cover). Discuss why you think the author wrote this book.

  • Cultural perspective: Discuss what you know about the time and location of this book. Write two questions about the culture and place that you would like answered when you read.

  • Connections to our lives: Why are you interested in this book?

  • Poetry and performance possibilities: Do you see your novel as a movie? As a play? As a poem? Discuss.
8. Choose a word from one of the texts to use when demonstrating the Vocabulary Organizer (see Session 3). Fill in one section of the transparency (including the sentence from the text, the dictionary definitions, synonyms, and a sentence using the word).

9. If students will be using the multimedia tools as part of their final presentations, make sure you have them available for use.

10. Two of the sessions in this lesson have students discussing chapters in their books; you will also need to schedule additional time for students to discuss the books as they finish each additional chapter (see the note at the end of Session 4).

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