Reflection: Rigor Analyzing the Author Day 2 of 2 - Section 4: Journal Response


How do we help students notice ideas they would easily miss? In the video I ask the students to reread a particular sentence with me. The sentence reads: "Then very carefully he took a book from the pile and opened it." I wanted to focus on this sentence because I wanted to have a discussion about how Tomas feels, given this is his first time here at the library. He is nervous about being here. He is far away from home and takes a great chance by coming to the library. This act changes his life.

Overall, I feel the students did a good job at analyzing the importance of the characters. It didn't surprise me Papa Grande was chosen. Papa Grande was important character in the story. He is key in helping Tomas become the next the storyteller in his family and a writer in real life.

This narrative is based on the real life of Tomas Rivera. When I shared this detail, the students were excited to learn it. 

I taught this story over 4 days. Next year, if I were to teach it again, I would teach it in 6 or more days. I would break up the first reading into 3 lessons/days. The reason is because it is a very rich narrative with different layers of meaning.

Please note: 

In researching about the narrative and the author, I came across an interview with the author, Pat Mora. She makes an interesting point which is her disbelief in students not understanding that Tomas and his family were migrant workers.

I can see why that would be. The illustrations distract from that message. All of the illustrations depict the characters as happy whether they are working hard in the fields under the blazing sun, in the dump looking for things to sell, or in their "tired old car," traveling from Texas to Iowa and back again. The illustrations do not capture the hardships of migrant workers. 

And, that is why doing a close reading with this text is vital in distinguishing the text from the illustrations. Students who are not sophisticated readers will be oblivious to it. That is why text dependent questions are so important.

  Rigor: Reflecting on Journal Writing
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Analyzing the Author Day 2 of 2

Unit 13: Tomas and the Library Lady
Lesson 4 of 4

Objective: SWBAT use evidence from the text to analyze the author’s purpose in writing the narrative.

Big Idea: Tomas leaves Iowa and heads back to Texas. Tomas leaves Iowa as a storyteller. How does this happen? Come learn about his journey.

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