Characterizing the Friendship Between Junior and Rowdy in "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian."

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SWBAT describe character relationships with relevant evidence from the story by filling out a Characterizing Friendship Organizer.

Big Idea

Looking at the similarities and differences of two teens growing up on an Indian Reservation.


10 minutes

I write this sentence on the board which is from the chapter, "Revenge Is My Middle Name" in Sherman Alexie's novel "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian"  

"He's a big, goofy dreamer, too, just like me.  He likes to pretend he lives inside the comic books.  I guess a fake life inside a cartoon is a lot better than his real life."

I then ask students to think about why Junior said, "life inside a cartoon is a lot better than his real life."  As the common core standards ask in RL.9-10.4, I want students' to determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the story as well as analyze their impact on meaning and tone.

I now ask students to share their thoughts with a partner and then with the class.

Building Knowledge

10 minutes

I pass out "Revenge Is My Middle Name" Characterizing Friendship worksheet and ask students to take turns reading each paragraph a loud.  We first analyze the meaning of the quotes form the text which includes the quote given for the Activator.  

After a student reads a paragraph we talk about the components which make Rowdy and Junior's friendship a complicated one. For example, how they share both behavioral characteristics and conflicting characteristics.

I then use a graphic organizer which was designed by an ELA colleague, Josh Farber.  He used a great website called to design it. I  project the Characterizing Friendship graphic organizer on a screen using a docucamera.  As a class we read the different components of the organizer: Junior and Rowdy's Characteristics, Strengths, Weaknesses, and the Friendship Zone which is the area in which they have shared beliefs and characteristics.

To get the students moving in the right direction, we fill out one part of the organizer, Junior's Characteristics, as a class.  I ask them to think about this character's characteristics and refer to the chapter "Revenge Is My Middle Name" if necessary.  As they identify characteristics, I write them on the graphic organizer for all to see and copy.


Student Learning Activity

30 minutes

In this part of the lesson I use the differentiating strategy of flexible grouping understanding that some students prefer to work in groups and others alone.

I ask students to move their tables either into groups of three or work individually to complete filling in the graphic organizer. I emphasize the importance of discussing the parts needing to be filled in and if necessary to back up their responses with evidence from the chapter.  I explain my expectations of respectful and on-task behavior during this activity. I remind my students that the focus of this activity is to cooperate to learn versus learning to cooperate. I circulate among the students to check for understanding and to keep them focused on the task.  




Wrap Up

10 minutes

The Envelope, Please!  

For the Wrap-Up I use one of my favorite summarizing activities, The Envelope, Please!  It takes some time to prepare but I think it's worth it.  Students are given the envelopes in the beginning of the lesson with the instructions to not open them until the Wrap-Up activity.  I circulate among the students picking as many as I can before the bell rings.  the students read the question that is inside the envelope and answer the question.  If someone disagrees they can respond with their answer.  The questions were statements of various characteristics of the two characters.  the students' needed to identify the character and state the type of characteristic being described.