The next section I had my students read in House on Mango Street was “My Name,” a vignette where main character Esperanza talks about her name, family culture, and wrestles with her identity.
We first read the vignette aloud (I have a new student read each day to give everyone a voice) and then I had them open their Google Classroom pages and answer some post-reading questions on their own.
My goal with the reading questions? To see what they were comprehending and to connect what they read today with their prior lessons on figurative language, thus bridging concepts.
The questions asked them to think beyond the literal, challenging them to make inferences about Esperanza’s culture.
*The questions can be viewed/downloaded here.
Here is an example of one of my students, and my comments for them via Google Classroom.
After the questions, we discussed some of the main ideas in the vignette–family, identity, confidence, culture, and role of women. Then I bridged into their next activity, which was to learn about their own names and build connections between their families and Esperanza’s family.
This activity was the My Family Crest. Students were asked to look up their last names to find out the definition, origin, and background information. Then they were to draw two symbols that represented their families and explain what they symbols were, why they drew them, and what they learned about their family on the back of the crest.
I created a crest and an assignment sheet. I told the students that I would be assessing their ability to write clearly and coherently–using formal, academic writing. I also told them to have fun and add color to their crests!
The majority of my eighth graders enjoyed it. Some went all out. Some didn’t, but they all discovered something new about their families. Here are some of their examples:
I was really pleased with their work and wanted to showcase it. So, after giving them their scores and feedback (to read more about that, click here) I hung the crests in the hallway heading into my room/library. This was an awesome way to showcase their work, engage others in our curriculum, and give each student a chance to be proud of his/her family. Overall, I think it worked well as an early book activity!