Assimilation--cultural norm or cultural destruction?: Comparing Central Ideas in Two Texts

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SWBAT determine a central ideal of two texts by analyzing and comparing differing perspectives on cultural assimilation.

Big Idea

Speak up or speak what--the language we speak defines our culture.

Let's get started: Identity Assumptions in Blaxicans

30 minutes

The students have seen this identity assumptions chart before in another activity.  I review with them the three identity assumptions we are using to frame our discussion about culture.  I ask them to use their essay along with their homework on Blaxicans and Other Reinvented Americans by Richard Rodriguez to complete the chart.  I tell them to use direct evidence from the text--the kind you put in quotation marks.  The Common Core explicitly states that students need to cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis. I have noticed on their homework that the students often refer to the text but do not use direct evidence. It is not enough to say, "He adds humor to break up the tension of what he's writing."  The student needs to have textual evidence that illustrates humor and then explain how that evidence proves his inference(RI 9-10.1).

Since the goal is for them to identify the central idea show how it is supported by specific details, requiring students to write direct quotes will help them make the connection between the central idea and supporting details.  The final question on the chart, "Eventually they will be able to distinguish how the organization of evidence impacts the development of the message (RI 9-10.2).

I encourage them to consult with their tablemates on the chart. Hopefully all of the have completed the homework and have developed an impression of this text (SL 9-10 1a). Most students will agree on Rodriguez's positions on identity. However, finding the evidence that aligns with their inference is the challenge. I want them to understand the difference between looking for evidence that supports their inference and looking for details that demonstrate the author's position. The difference is subtle, but necessary if they are to distinguish between the author's central ideas and their inferences based on those ideas.  By discussing the textual evidence with their tablemates, they will determine which parts of the text best connect to their inference.  If students bring different pieces of the text as evidence, it will lead to the question, 'why did you choose that?'  The answer to this question will allow them to choose the strongest evidence and help them explain how the evidence supports their inference.  

Finally, I take volunteers to share their responses. I write as many as I can on the dry-erase board so the students have a visual reference. I ask the students, "Where does Rodriquez stand on assimilation?"  This question focuses on the central idea of the essay, "Assimilation happens." Now I ask them what evidence does he offer to support this idea (RI 9-10. 2).  

Rodruquez, Richard. “Blaxicans and other Reinvented Americans” Resources for Teaching: Remix,                           Reading Composing Culture. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006. 120-125. Print.

Building Knowledge: The Central Idea of Wild Tongue

30 minutes

Now we transition from Blaxicans to How to Tame a Wild Tongue by Gloria Anzaldua.  For homework, the students had read and annotate this essay. So, to quickly assess comprehension, I begin giving them some general questions to answer about the text. I tell them to write the answers down in their notes, and I will not collect it.  It is to help them better understand the text. Students often struggle with author's purpose. I teach my students a formula for stating the purpose: Author's name wants to (verb of purpose) + audience + central idea.  The this essay the purpose statement is, "Gloria Anzaldua wants to persuade Tex-Mex speaking people to maintain their unique language to avoid assimilation."  It is a bit formulaic, but the key information is present (RI.9-10.6).

They can work in their groups to answer the questions.  Group work is the fastest way to accomplish the task. They can divide up the work and/or get help from a table mate if necessary (SL 9-10. 1a).   I give them about five minutes to answer the questions and then I call of volunteers to share their responses.  Students can add to their notes if necessary.

Now we repeat the activities we did for Blaxicans.  First the students work in their groups to complete the assumptions' chart using direct evidence from the text to support their position(RI 9-10.1). Anzaldua has almost the polar opposite position on assimilation from Rodriguez.  If the students did not pick up on this idea when they read the essays, it should begin to become clear to them as they work on the chart.  

As they finish the chart, we make a list of inferences and evidence on the board.  Next we move onto the question regarding Anzaldua's position on assimilation. I ask the students for her central idea and evidence to support it (RI 9-10.2).  Anzaldua says that Spanish speakers must resist assimilation. For her language is the key to culture. I write the information on the board.   

 Anzaldua, Gloria. “How to Take a Wild Tongue” Resources for Teaching: Remix, Reading Composing        Culture. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006. 53-59. Print.

Building Knowledge: Compare and Contrast Assimilation

20 minutes

One of the questions in the essay packet is a compare and contrast synthesis question on the authors' positions on assimilation.  I am going to use it as a formative assessment to see if they can compare and contrast the development of two central ideas.  It is a bit ambitious because our writing thus far has been focused on narrative and now they have to write an expository response (W 9-10. 2).  The goal is for the students to find evidence using the three cultural assumptions that we have been discussing in class.  Then use that evidence to show the similarities and differences in how each author views assimilation. 

I direct them to page 125 in the packet. We read the question together.  I answer any questions regarding the prompt.  I tell them to use their homework, annotated essays, and the notes and charts from class today to respond to the prompt.   


Closing: Culture Wheel Check In

10 minutes

After the students turn in their response to the compare and contrast prompt, I ask them to get out their culture wheel planning sheets.  

I give them a few minutes to transition from the essays to their projects.   I answer any clarifying questions about the planning sheet and/or the project.

At this point the students have spent enough time with their group.  I give them the option of working independently on their project or finding a partner to evaluate their planning sheet. If working with a partner, I specifically tell them to look at the relationships among the sentence and the images, do they support that aspect of culture?

I walk around the class monitoring the discussion and answering questions.