Class begins today with a vocabulary review of the words of the week (Vocabulary #2). In addition to the words taken from the lesson on inference (inference, implicit, explicit), this week's words include thesis (from "The Power of Names" lesson), melancholy and nostalgia (two student-suggested words offered while discussing the voice and tone of some of the vignettes from The House on Mango Street), as well as alliteration, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, and idiom (terms carried over from the figurative language bubble map of last week). The acquisition of academic vocabulary is a process that I have always maintained in my classroom, regardless of the grade-level I am teaching, and one that supports a key Common Core shift.
I like to expose my students to variety of ways to interact with the words before a quiz through the vocabulary activities I assign. When we reach a point in the year where they have experimented with a number of different activities, I give them opportunities to choose a method that works best for them.
The activity for this set of vocabulary words is a homework assignment that requires that students develop an acrostic for each word that somehow reflects the denotation of the word. I find it helps to give students a sample acrostic, and to list ideas for creating acrostics. For example, they might develop a sentence about the word, a list of connotations for the word, an example of the what the word means, or even a poem.
The remainder of the period is dedicated to a council around the students' completed identity beads, a project that extends the thematic exploration of identity found in The House On Mango Street. The talking piece this time is a ball of yarn and a large needle stuck into the eraser of an unsharpened pencil, functioning as a Make-Shift Needle and Thread, which students thread through their beads as they tell about them (Threading the Necklace). Their beads include representations of their interests, their memories, their families, their friends, their likes--all of which they are free to elaborate on when it is their turn to share. As the yarn and needle are passed to each student, a giant "necklace" is created, one that represents each individual identity functioning together as a whole (Whole Class Necklace).
As my students are beginning to detect in The House On Mango Street, the identity of Esperanza, the protagonist, is shaped and defined to varying degrees by the events and people she encounters. The process of reflecting and commenting on how their own identities have been shaped through this project gives my students the opportunity to personally connect to the evolution of Esperanza's identity, allowing them to better identify with her development.
When the last bead is strung, I ask my students to explain the metaphor of what we have created and how it relates to the theme of identity in The House on Mango Street. The end result provides a constant thematic reminder in the classroom as we continue reading the text.