We've spent two days thus far reading a tricky short story (RL.9-10.10) "Home Now" and comparing it to the graphic novel, American Born Chinese. The themes, characters, structural elements, plots, motifs and contrasts really play off each other well, and classroom comparisons that occur can create powerful literary discussions (SL.9-10.1). Today, we will go a bit deeper into analysis of the story's treatment of character (RL.9-10.3) as well as structural elements for a strong effect (RL.9-10.5) and transition into a piece of follow-up writing. But first, we will take the time to hear from the students and to give them a chance to explain their ideas with less assistance and prompting from me.
I plan to use the document camera to allow students to comment on their insights on the partner prompt below. They have had some time to work on this prompt yesterday, so I am expecting each pair to have something substantial to say (SL.9-10.1), but just the same, I will acknowledge that being up in front of the class on the document camera can be somewhat of a nervy experience. As a result, I will remind students of speaking and listening norms:
1.) Respect for the speaker.
2.) Ask follow-up questions.
3.) Challenge the person's ideas without making it personal.
In addition, I will ask the students how we can best support and challenge each other.
1.) Now, place Robert from "Home Now" on this continuum. Where do you think his name should go? (If the left side is assimilation, and the right is acceptance of self/culture/identity). (RL.9-10.2)
- How did you make the choice that you did?
- What factors have affected Robert the strongest?
- How does his memory of the Japanese story, with the kingdom under the sea, help give him peace? What is the equivalent for Jin Wang?
2.) Do you think the two authors would agree or disagree about this theme? Why? What structural choices did they use to get their theme across (RL.9-10.5).
Each of the groups will present their insights, and I plan to ask questions of each to see how they are rating and reacting to Robert, the main character of Ryan Oba's "Home Now." Along the way, I will ask about some of the motifs of the story (RL.9-10.5) that affect how it is structured:
1.) The Homeless Man. Why do you think the story has a Homeless person enter into the story twice? What does this element add to the story's plot? The theme?
Can you draw a parallel to American Born Chinese? What unexpected intrusion is made into the plot and by whom? (Chinkee at the end turns out to be the Monkey King... a huge spoiler, so make sure that they have read through the end of the book.)
2.) The Day-Glow Orange Sign. In the short story, there is a day-glow orange sign that says, "If you lived here, you'd be home now.." In what ways is that true for Robert literally? Figuratively (RL.9-10.4)? When is the Monkey King most on the run and without a home (when he is running away form Tse-Yo-Tsuh, the God of the story)? And when does he begin to feel most at home? (When he accepts Tse-Yo-Tsuh's authority, etc.)
3.) The Book (Urishima Under the Sea). Why do you think Robert had pleasant associations with this book? When is described, what words have positive affective connotations?
Again, each group will present their appraisals of Robert, and hopefully the above topics will be raised by the students; or I will prompt them with questions.
I will ask the students to begin generating criteria by which they might compare Robert and a character from American Born Chinese. The focus here is to lay the groundwork to have the students write their own analysis paragraphs. For homework, they are to begin writing by selecting the characters to compare as well as list a couple of strong points of comparison.
I will also ask:
What criteria can you use to compare Robert and Jin Wang? How about Robert and the Monkey King?
How can you find evidence to make that comparison? What is the best way to "quote" a graphic novel?
What will be the biggest challenge in writing a structured paragraph with two separate sources in it? Why do you think appropriate signal phrases and transitions will be important?