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Lesson Plan

Young Adult Literature about the Middle East: A Cultural Response Perspective

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Young Adult Literature about the Middle East: A Cultural Response Perspective

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Eight 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Scott Filkins

Scott Filkins

Champaign, Illinois

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Session Five

Session Six

Session Seven

Session Eight

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will:

  • generate background knowledge about the Middle East, using self-questioning, Internet research, and imaginative thinking.
  • read and respond to a young adult novel about the Middle East using a cultural studies approach.
  • contribute to student-directed small group discussions about the book they are reading.
  • create a document for a specific audience that synthesizes their new learning and perspectives.

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Session One

  1. Begin the session by asking students to think and write about what they already know about the people, history, cultures, and countries of the Middle East.
  2. Distribute the Pre-Reading Chart and ask students to write down several observations in the first three columns. Remind students that they can be honest in their responses, but need to be respectful and mature.
  3. Circulate the room and check for when students are ready to move on.
  4. When students are ready, ask them to pair up and share some of their observations from the first three columns.
  5. Facilitate a class discussion by having each pair share one item or observation from each column.
  6. After the discussion, have the students complete the last column by asking them to wonder what it would be like if their family moved to a country in the Middle East. Encourage them to wonder about what would be both different and similar in terms of culture, religion, customs, and so forth. They should also wonder about how they would adapt, change, and grow in the process.
  7. Have them set this sheet aside for review and reference later in the lesson.
  8. Introduce the reading activity by distributing the Literature Circle Roles Handout and lead a discussion of it, gauging the necessary level of depth depending on students’ existing level of familiarity with literature circles as an instructional activity.
  9. Inform students that in the next session, they will apply these roles to a short story to get them ready for their independent reading of a Young Adult novel with a main character from the Middle East.

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Session Two

  1. Distribute copies of the short story “The Worst of Two Choices or The Forsaken Olive Trees” (a story about a family split between Israel and Palestine) and explain to students that you will be using it to begin your exploration of literature from the Middle East and to model the roles for upcoming literature circles.
  2. Ask students to get out their Literature Circle Roles Handout and briefly review the roles and questions.
  3. Lead a think-aloud modeling session by reading the first few paragraphs of the story aloud and considering ways that each of the roles might respond to the text so far. See the Sample Responses for Literature Circles and use an overhead of the Response Chart for Literature Circles to model student expectations further.
  4. As you get further in to the story, move from showing students what to do to asking them what they would do in each of the roles.
  5. Finish the story and discuss any questions students might have.

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Session Three

  1. Review the work from the previous session, including the discussion of “The Worst of Two Choices or The Forsaken Olive Trees” and the tasks outlined on the Literature Circle Roles Handout.
  2. Have copies of each of the books you selected from the Recommended Book List available and give students time to browse the different texts.
  3. Using a method appropriate for your classroom and group of students, have students choose the work they will read. Depending on your method, you may need to split the session here to allow for record-keeping, negotiation, and sorting groups.
  4. If the session is able to continue immediately after choosing the books, direct students to The Middle East: Beginning Resources for Research to begin some preliminary research on the country associated with their book. This research is intended to be informal and is aimed at simply giving students a level of familiarity with what they are about to read.
  5. Students may wish to jot down new learning or questions on their Pre-Reading Charts.

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Session Four

  1. Begin the session by distributing books and giving each student a copy of their Response Chart for Literature Circles. Remind students of the modeling you did in Session Two and ask them to apply that modeling to the work they do.
  2. Give students the majority of the session to begin reading their books. Circulate the room to monitor student progress and answer questions students have as they respond. Remind students to use print or Internet resources and search engines to answer questions or clarify their understanding of unfamiliar concepts.
  3. Near the end of class, have students meet to determine how much they need to have read for the next session. Be sure each student understands that he or she is responsible for an in-depth focus on his or her role, and that some roles may require more work than others as the sessions go on.

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Session Five

  1. On days when students meet, they should share their responses from their Response Chart for Literature Circles.
  2. As students meet, circulate the room to provide feedback and support, guiding students in their discussions and helping them determine next steps when necessary.
  3. At the end of each session (or after students have completed their discussion), have students determine what they will read for the next session and if students will keep the same roles or switch for the next reading.
  4. Collect their Response Charts for Literature Circles and provide timely feedback to guide students in preparation for their next meeting.

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Session Six

  1. After students complete their books, discuss with students the culminating projects for the lesson.
  2. Explain that the first step will be for each group to work together to create a Character Trading Card for the book’s main character, both for general review and in preparation for the second project. Students should be reminded to focus on the information they learned through reading and responding with the Response Chart for Literature Circles and the role(s) they filled as they read.
  3. When students complete the Character Trading Card, have them print enough copies for each member of their group.
  4. Shuffle groups so literature circles are no longer intact. Create groups composed of students who have read each of the different books.
  5. Ask them to share their Character Trading Card and discuss their character and the changes and challenges they each went through.

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Session Seven

  1. Reconvene the literature circle groups and share with them the Welcome Letter Assignment and its evaluation rubric.
  2. Discuss the expectations for the assignment and have groups work together on their letter, using the Letter Generator or a word processor.
  3. When students are finished, have students print their letters.

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Session Eight

  1. Have a student volunteer from each group read the letter their group wrote.
  2. Ask students to comment on each others’ letters, noting similarities and differences in the approaches they took and the suggestions they made.
  3. Return students’ Pre-Reading Chart and have them re-read the “I Wonder” section they wrote at the beginning of the lesson.
  4. Ask them to reflect on what they have learned from their own reading and from what other students have shared by writing a brief paragraph about how their understanding has changed.

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EXTENSIONS

If you would like to provide students more guidance in their responses to the various young adult novels, consider using Habibi as a whole-class text before shifting the assignment to literature circles. Lesson plan ideas that support such an approach can be found in Middle Ground: Exploring Selected Literature from and about the Middle East by Sheryl L. Finkle and Tamara J. Lilly.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • As students work in their groups, circulate through the room, observing their work and taking anecdotal notes. Listen for indications that students have completed the assignments and are engaging positively with the reading and the project. Note evidence of strong intrapersonal behavior and collaborative achievement.

  • Look for details that indicate comprehension of the reading in students’ written response as well as in conferences and interviews. Additionally, look for evidence of analytical thinking that relates strongly to the original reading.

  • Review Student Self-Assessment and compare students’ own perceptions to their accomplishments as evidenced in your observations, anecdotal notes, and students’ written responses. Reinforce student self-assessment that match other available evidence. Respond to students further, working with them to improve their reading and collaborative strategies based on the collected information.

  • Use the Welcome Letter Evaluation to provide feedback to groups on their written product.

 

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