Comparing Stories, Characters and Themes

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Objective the events and characters of the book "How Many Days to America" and the article "Garana's Story" on their approaches to similar themes and topics.

Big Idea

Comparing and contrasting ideas help readers build understanding. There are similar themes in many books that each can teach us why people immigrate to our country.

Introduction and Vocabulary

10 minutes

I introduce the article Garana's Story to my students by passing out the first page and sharing with students we are going to read a true story about a girl named Garana who is a refugee from Afghanistan. A refugee is a person who is forced to leave their country because of war, natural disasters or other difficulties. In this case she and her family had to leave because of war and drought. She now lives in a refugee camp in Pakistan, far from her home. My purpose with this lesson is to have them make a connection between fiction and factual text to determine the similarities and differences in both. I also want them to synthesize information from both to determine an opinion about immigration and the information they read. This we will carry over into our history unit throughout the development of our government and rules.    

I share with them that we are going to read the passages together to build understanding of the unfamiliar vocabulary words in the passage. We read the introduction page and review the words together.

I ask them why do you think she is learning English rather than her Afghanistan language? How can knowing two languages help her later in life? I ask students how many can speak different languages? Why did they learn two languages? How does this help them communicate with others?

Our purpose for reading this article is to build an understanding of how her life is in some ways very different from your life, but in some ways the same. To gain this understanding we are going to write summary notes of main ideas and supporting details mentioned in the article.

Here's a clip of a video that explains why I added this lesson to the unit



Shared Discussion

20 minutes

I now get back to my lesson focus and ask "How do you think Garana feels about the move away from her home to the camp? Would you want to live there? Why?/ Why Not?" and finally "What could have happened if her family stayed in Afghanistan?"

I want students to be able to relate to the dangers she faced and that her family really didn't have a choice but to leave. I also chose not to focus much on her father or mother because the article stays optimistic from Garana's perspective and that's my focus of the lesson.  

I share with students that will now get the opportunity to read and outline a typical day in the Garana's life. When we read the first section of the article we learned her father is gone and her mother is almost blind so cannot do much work. In the second section of the article we learn about Garana's responsibilities each day to care for her mom and family. We are going to outline the a typical day and what she does in the morning, after noon and evening. I pass out the graphic organizer Garana's daily schedule and responsibilities and explain the sections.

I then pass out the second section of the article Garana's Story Article and we read and complete the morning responsibilities section together. I ask why do you think praying is so important to her people? I then continue sharing that this seems like a lot of work for a 10 year old, but I also see many different children by the well and in the other pictures. Now that I've built understanding I ask do you think that might be why girls couldn't go to school? If they don't make the connection I prompt with - do you think they had to help at home? How did this make them feel? what evidence can you find to support this in the passage?

I have students continue to work in partners to complete the chart with information. These questions and their development of opinions will help them to respond to the independent question on immigration. This will also help them evaluate our later history unit lesson on immigration, freedom and the development of our government. My objective is to develop the abilities to identify the text evidence that supports their responses from both this and the prior book lessons.  

Take Away Work

15 minutes

Students use their charts to respond to the take away questions - Garana's Story comparison comparing their lives to Garana's and then comparing her experience and feelings to the characters in How Many Days to America book cover book from our previous lesson in the unit.

To help them with this task we review the questions and I ask "How are the reasons for leaving similar to the book we just read?", and then "In what ways did they both have to be brave for their families, siblings, others?" and finally to check for prior knowledge "What dangers do you feel both faced in their travels?"

Students complete their worksheets and then share out their responses as a group.