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What does it mean to be an American?

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Midori Sanchez
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Topic Posts: 5
What does it mean to be an American?

Background: The first unit of the ninth grade My Perspectives features a piece written by Amy Tan entitled "Rules of the Game". I was thrilled to be teaching a piece by her since I personally have fond memories of reading "The Joy Luck Club" in my class when I was in school. However, I was underwhelmed seeing such a short background on Tan as well as on Asian/Asian American culture in the text. My students are primarily Latino or Caucasian, and male. Reading a piece that discusses the relationships between women, especially those between a mother and daughter, that also focuses on Chinese women is a challenge as I have seen from now having taught this once in my class. I think it is important to bring to light more information about expectations for women in China and Confucianism to better understand the complicated relationship in this story. Students will be entering the unit having read "Quilt of a Country" by Anna Quindlen discussing that our country has generations of immigrants that come to this country and pick and choose pieces from their own culture and adopt ones they've learned about living in the US. They will also have started with a group text and will have been broken into a collaborative group to work on a digital notebook that I have created to read several short pieces. I have also made a "cultural" powerpoint utilzing information about Chinese and Chinese American culture to help provide extra scaffolding and context prior to reading to help students empathize with both the mother and daughter in the text.


Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.

Student Achievement-- ways to check for understanding, projects, etc: 

Students will answer questions after the powerpoint on the "background" of Chinese culture, Confucianism, and differences between American and Chinese Americans. (*Please reply with a comment if you would like a copy of the powerpoint.*)

I would have them take notes on my powerpoint, and then watch a video. They would answer the following questions after watching the video: 

-What made these individuals uncomfortable concerning their heritage/culture?
-What have you experienced personally or seen that is similar to the experiences these women have faced?


After taking notes on the entirety of the powerpoint including the video, I would including a question/questions for my students to answer on their note-taking paper. (I would have general ed only answer the first and ACC answer both; I have limited time in my class for pacing) These could then be discussed within group and then as a class based on time.

On the bottom of your notes answer these questions and explain fully:

-According to Confucius ideals for Women on Slide 3, what do you think is the most important ideal to Americans, and why? Which is least important, and why?

-What do your parents and/or culture expect of you, and how do they teach you? Do you think those expectations are important? If so, why? If not, why?


After completing the powerpoint and then reading the story "Rules of the Game", students would answer a series of comprehension questions focusing on internal and external conflict directly on their digital notebook. (Please reply to my posting if you have questions about utilizing a digital notebook for collaborative discussions or templates.)
For example here are the questions:

Why does Waverly become angry at her mother at the market?

What is the primary source of conflict within the story? Is it internal or external, and how do you know?

*They will also discuss the character's motivations which would lead back to the powerpoint; the mother is motivated by the ideals she has been taught in China whereas her daughter is driven by individuality and wanting to appear more American than Chinese. 


Day one: Cultural Context Powerpoint + Refinery 29 Asian American Video (Take Notes)
-Students will take notes independently/collaboratively as needed on the powerpoint and video and discuss in small groups the provided questions.
Day 2: Rules of the Game
-Class discussion on the powerpoint and the video (thoughts, comments, concerns)
-After receiving context on the story, students would work in their small, collaborative annotate the story and read independently or popcorn read in their small groups. 
Day 3: Comprehension questions + class discussion
-After reading the story, students would answer questions concerning conflict and motivation between the mother and daughter collaboratively on the chromebooks using their book as reference to the story they read/annotated
-They would list the conflict, internal or external, motivation, and the result of the conflict (resolved or unresolved)
-Finally, we would have a class discussion breaking down the answers to the questions providing concrete evidence/reasoning for their answers
*A quiz could be planned to follow up concerning the story or powerpoint.
*You could also assign a short writing assignment to have students tell their own story or one of someone they know about a time where they felt judged or conflicted about their culture. This could also connect to sterotypes or prejudice.