Foiled By Sally

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SWBAT read four consecutive vignettes from The House On Mango Street, all of which focus on the character of Sally, and will identify the ways she functions as a character foil for Esperanza.

Big Idea

Teaching students to probe deeper into a character's function in a text.


40 minutes


Today is the day we return to the The House On Mango Street, having taken a break for a few days to allow my students to begin drafting their narrative essays.

I have grouped these four vignettes together ("What Sally Said", "The Monkey Garden", "Red Clowns", and "Linoleum Roses") for their progression of Sally's development.  I explain to my students that the vignettes will get a little intense, but that by the end of reading them, they will more clearly understand Sally's function in the text.  I also point out that these are the first of their kind in the text, in that they represent four consecutive vignettes that remain focused on one character.  I ask my students to think about why this might be so as we read the vignettes together.

We read the vignettes as a whole class, allowing student volunteers to do the reading. We pause at the end of each to address any questions and to discuss inferences (NOTE:  I will be returning to "The Monkey Garden" in a future lesson, to discuss it as an allusion--for today's lesson, the focus will remain on the role of Sally).

When we have read the four vignettes, I ask my students why they think Cisneros has devoted so much time to chronicling Sally at this point in the text.  I expect that they will see how she comes to represent quite vividly a lifestyle choice that Esperanza wants to avoid, a conclusion they have arrived at previously in the lesson that focused on Sally as one of four female neighbors of Esperanza, all whom represent what Esperanza does not want to become.  

I explain to my students that there is a literary term for the role Sally is playing in the text and display the  Character Foil slide for my students to copy down.  I add that the term foil likely comes from an old tradition of jewelers, who at one time would display their gems for sale on foil, in order to make them shine and sparkle more brightly.  

It should be very easy for my students to identify the ways in which Sally functions as a character foil for Esperanza, by means of their opposite character traits.  We do this as a whole class, allowing students to share their ideas out loud.


Final Draft Requirements

10 minutes


From Sally, we make a hard turn back to the narrative essay my students have been drafting.  I distribute the Final Narrative Essay Draft Requirements and Narrative Writing Rubric, which I have reproduced for my students as a front-to-back single handout.  I briefly walk them through the requirements and instruct them to consult the rubric as they take their rough drafts to the final draft stage.

I am always sure to type out as clearly as possible the requirements for a final draft so that my students do not inundate me with questions about it (truth be told, however, there will still be questions).  I have also learned to always reserve a place on such handouts for "additional notes", as I am just as likely to forget to include something that will be discovered as I review the requirements with my students!

I generally try to give a week's time between completing a rough draft peer response workshop and a final draft deadline.  This gives my students the opportunity to informally meet with me if they choose, to get any additional help with or suggestions for their rough drafts.  However, I always require that they have completed the peer response workshop before they come running to me for help, in order to build confidence in the workshop experience.  

The rubric I have used for this assignment is one I have modified from the Elk Grove School District's website, a district that has been so generous in posting their CCSS writing rubrics online.  I have tried to maintain the language of the CCSS in the rubric categories, while at the same time incorporating the literary language I have been training my students to use, such as voice, tone, diction, and syntax.

Continue Peer Response Workshops

20 minutes

Whatever time remains in the period is given back to peer response workshops, as most of my students were unable to complete the process in the previous lesson.  Students are allowed to workshop their drafts until the end of the period.