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Lesson Plan

A Portrait of Our World: Making Connections and Developing Comprehension

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A Portrait of Our World: Making Connections and Developing Comprehension

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Nine 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Diane Brantley, Ph.D.

San Bernardino, California


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives






  • Computers with Internet access

  • LCD projector and screen

  • Copy paper and construction paper

  • Sticky notes

  • Seven copies of Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story From Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter (Beach Lane Books, 2009)

  • Afghan artifacts (e.g., maps, kites, documents that show the language, currency, household items)

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Bio Cube

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Bio Cube

Bio Cube is a useful summarizing tool that helps students identify and list key elements about a person for a biography or autobiography.


Cube Creator

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Cube Creator

The interactive Cube Creator helps students identify and summarize key elements. It can be used as a prewriting or postreading activity.


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  1. Collect a series of artifacts based on the Afghan culture for use in the initial classroom carousel walk. These artifacts should include such items as maps, various Afghan kites, copies of different nonfiction and fictional texts about Afghanistan and its neighboring countries, photos of notable sights in Afghanistan, a copy of the Dari alphabet and the Pashto alphabet (the two official languages of Afghanistan), articles of clothing, household items, the currency of Afghanistan called the afghani, and any other items of interest.

  2. Prepare learning logs for use in the carousel walk by stapling together plain sheets of copy paper with a construction paper cover.

  3. Obtain seven copies of the text Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter for use throughout the lesson. One copy of the book should be provided to each group of students; the last copy is for you. Divide the book into six natural stopping points with sticky notes for use when you teach the students how to sequence the story using the Directed Reading–Thinking Activity handout.

  4. Preview Nasreen’s Secret School, and use the A Guide to Question–Answer Relationships to develop a series of questions based on the text that follow the four levels described in the Question–Answer Relationships comprehension strategy. (Sample questions are provided on this handout to encourage students to develop a deeper understanding of the Afghan culture and the gender issues women and girls face in this society.) Place your questions on sticky notes at the appropriate stopping places in the instructor copy of the text and make note of the type of question each is so that you can ask students to identify the question type later in the lesson.

  5. Bookmark the Bio-Cube tool on each of the classroom computers so the students can create a Bio-Cube in which they detail the characteristics of one of the main characters from Nasreen’s Secret School. Download and print enough copies of the Bio-Cube Planning Sheet for every student.

  6. Preview the Afghanistan Culture Project on TeacherTube.

  7. Prepare a copy of the Narrative Story Retelling Rubric for each student to preview to assist them in preparing their own retelling of Nasreen’s Secret School.

  8. Make one copy of the Cooperative Group Scoring Rubric for your use and a copy for each group in the class. Each group will complete this sheet after the group assignments found in Session 6.

  9. Print out the Multigenre Autobiography: Contextual Essay Planning Sheet, which can help your students write their own autobiographies. Make enough copies of the handout for each student in your class.

  10. Make a copy of the Autobiographical Incident Rubric for scoring each student's autobiographies in Session 9.

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