Nice to meet you, Esperanza: Introduction to "The House on Mango Street"

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SWBAT initiate and participate in a range of discussions about sensitive topics in "The House on Mango Street" and explain what the text tells us about Esperanza by citing evidence from the text.

Big Idea

Your opinions matter: Students weigh in on issues related to race, dating, public policy, etc.

Do Now

8 minutes

Today we will begin reading "The House on Mango Street." I have chosen this novel because it is a suggested text in our curriculum and it is a great text to end our unit on The Search for Identity. An excerpt of the text appears in our 9th grade anthology, McDougal Littell Language of Literature Grade 9.

For the "Do Now" today, I am giving my students a sheet that has 8 pre-reading prompts. I found these prompts on . I will be using some of the resources from this site throughout this unit. I will explain the expectations for the pre-readings. Students are to write in complete sentences and provide as much detail as possible. They should be prepared to write about 1/2 page per response. Groan, scowl, sigh....

I will ask my students to complete the first pre-reading for section one. I am choosing to use this as the "Do Now" because it relates directly to our the first quarter overarching unit, The Search for Identity, and it will allow them to connect with Esperanza, the main character in the book, as she explains the significance of her name. This is also a way to continue to get to know my students. I think this will be a way to get them engaged in the discussions about the text.

I'll allow a few students to share their responses.  Yes, this is yet another opportunity to practice their Common Core speaking and listening skills such as CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c. I am hoping that the students will be interested in their peers' responses and will ask them questions. In order to increase the likelihood that this will happen, I will model how to listen and provide meaningful feedback and/or ask relevant questions.

Pre-reading discussions: Thinking About Who I Am

20 minutes

For this activity, I am using a resource from The Sundown Active Reading Guide. Students begin by thinking about who they are.

They will complete the following:

  1. Here are five things I like most about myself
  2. Here are five things about me that make me feel embarrassed

I tell them that they will not be forced to share these items, but if they feel comfortable, they can share with the person next to them.

After sharing, they will respond to the following:

Now that you've admitted what embarrasses you, do you feel less embarrassed? Do you think your friends are embarrassed by the same things you are? How do you think you can overcome your embarrassment?

I am choosing to do this activity prior to reading the first section because I want students to relate to Esperanza as an adolescent with some of the same challenges and feelings that we all face on a regular basis and we want to be able to answer the essential question, What defines us? I'm thinking this might be the makings of great discussion or debate later in the unit. That's right... always plan a way to tie this lesson into a future lesson.

Pre-Reading Partner Discussions: Discover What You Know about Intolerance

20 minutes

Next, we will transition to partner discussions about even MORE sensitive topics. I am choosing to have students work with four different clock partners to have short discussions about these topics because I think they will feel more comfortable sharing these ideas with the whole group after they have shared with one person.

For each of the four questions below, students will get one minute to write their responses and one minute to discuss with their clock partners. I will cue them for each movement and provide 10 seconds between each question to get to their next partner.

The four questions are:

  1. How would your friends feel if you dated a person of another race? Why? (1 o'clock partner)
  2. How do you feel inside when a woman gets a better job than a man? Why? (2 o'clock partner)
  3. How do you feel about rap songs that put women down? Why? (3 o'clock partner) Here's a clip student giving her opinions of why rap songs put women down and her partner's response.
  4. How do you feel inside when a person of color gets a better job than a white person. Why? (4 o'clock partner)

We are discussing these questions because Esperanza in "The House on Mango Street" becomes aware of intolerance as she meets different people in her neighborhood. This is also a great opportunity to respond thoughtfully to the views and diverse perspectives of their peers (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d).

As my students read, I want them to have their eyes wide open, so to speak. Sometimes intolerance is subtle, so I am telling them to keep thinking about this wall of intolerance within her community.



Previewing "The House on Mango Street"

5 minutes

I am giving my students a few minutes to examine the text. I am asking them to read the front cover, back cover, first page, middle page, and last page. I am doing this to get them intrigued about the narrator. I am hoping they are beginning to wonder how a young girl, such as Esperanza will be able to deal with such grown-up issues as the ones we have been discussing. Teenagers can sometimes be difficult to read, so I am hoping that I have made the right selection of texts for our first novel!


Reading and Discussing: Section 1 (pp. 3-11)

20 minutes

I am giving students 10 minutes to read pp. 3-11 of the text. As they are reading, I want them to jot down some things that we find out about the narrator within those pages.

At the end of the 10 minutes, I will ask students to turn and talk to the person next to them and discuss what we have discovered about Esperanza from the first reading section.  When doing this, they must cite evidence from the text. In this part of the lesson we are citing strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1).

This is a teacher test because the partner groupings can make or break this lesson. There are simply some people who should never, ever, ever work together.  Did I pass? We'll see. You have to be able to scan the room and make corrections as necessary.

After about 5 minutes, I will ask a few students to share a summary of their "turn and talk" discussions. This is a way to check for full participation in the discussions and to check for understanding of what my students have read.

Closure: Whole Group Share Out

8 minutes

At the end of the lesson, I am having my students share (orally) what they think of the narrator based on what we have read about her (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1a), referring to evidence from the text to stimulate the conversation. Is she a likeable narrator? Does she remind them of someone in their neighborhood. I chose to have them share orally rather than in writing this time because they will have already done quite a bit of writing this period and it is always a good idea to mix it up a bit to keep students interested in what happens next.

I will also use this time to preview the next assignment (writing) in which they will write about a physical trait of one or more family members using stylistic elements. This will be similar to the Hairs chapter in The House on Mango Street. I'm even going to share a vignette about my family's feet!