America Street | 870L
- Learning Goal
- Interpret how a character’s perspective is influenced by his or her cultural background.
- Approximately 2 Days (40-45 minutes for each class)
- Necessary Materials
- Provided: Picturing Perspective Example Chart 1, Picturing Perspective Example Chart 2, Picturing Perspective Worksheet (Student Packet, pages 10-11)
Not Provided: Chart paper, markers, America Street edited by Anne Mazer
Before the Lesson
Read and complete the Student Packet Worksheets for “La Ciramella,” “The Journey,” and “The Circuit.”
Activation & Motivation
Ask students to identify a tradition or celebration that they participate in. Have students turn and talk with a partner about these events and why they are important to the student and his or her family. When students have had a chance to share, invite a few volunteers to discuss their rituals, celebrations, or events with the class. As a group, reflect on the origins of these behaviors. Are they religion-based? Are they family traditions?
will explain that perspective is the way someone sees, feels, and thinks about what is happening around them or what they are experiencing. One very important influence on your perspective is your culture. Culture includes your religious (or non-religious) beliefs, family values, and the attitudes, behaviors, and practices you share with your community (neighborhood, religion, nationality, ethnicity, etc.) The traditions we shared with the class were mostly from each student’s culture. These traditions influence our perspective. For example, someone who grew up Hindu (a religion of people mostly from India) might think eating steak is disgusting, because Hindu people believe the cow is a sacred animal. Their perspective on eating meat is influenced by their cultural upbringing.
In novels and short stories, characters have perspectives on the events in the story. When we understand a character’s perspective, we understand why they act and feel the way they do in the plot. Just like in our own lives, a character’s perspective is influenced by his or her cultural background. I will examine “La Ciramella” to determine how a character’s perspective about an event in the story is influenced by his or her cultural background.
First, I will examine a character’s perspective on an important event in the story. One important event in the story is Papa making la ciramella. I will draw on a frame on the board or chart paper similar to the Picturing Perspective Example Chart 1. Next, I will identify a character in the text—Papa. I will write “Papa” on the head in my frame. I will think about this character’s perspective about the event, using text evidence that show the thoughts and feelings of this character. By rereading the text, I know that Papa was very excited to make la ciramella. He did not think it was gross to remove a goat’s stomach lining to make la ciramella. He was also “red with anger” when the dog hid the goat in his doghouse. Finally, Papa felt proud to play la ciramella for his friends and family. Now I will think about Papa’s culture to explain how it influenced him. In the story, we learn that Papa is from Italy. He fondly talks about his small village in Italy and how his life was growing up in Grisolia. Papa learned to play la ciramella when he was a boy. Papa and his fellow Italian friends missed the old days in their country.
I can determine that Papa was greatly influenced by his Italian culture. He missed many of the aspects of his small Italian village, so he made la ciramella to reconnect with his culture and childhood. If Papa had been from another culture, he may have thought it was weird to remove a goat’s stomach lining, instead of just buying strings or an instrument. Because la ciramella was such an important part of Papa’s upbringing in Italy, he took his job of making one very seriously. He was happy and proud to play it for his friends.
Ask: "How can I explain how a character’s perspective is influenced by their culture?" Students should answer that they can then use text evidence to identify what a character felt and thought about an important event in the story. Students can then identify elements of the character’s cultural background in order to explain how that background influences the character’s perspective.
will explain the cultural impact on a character’s perspective in the short story “The Journey.” Note: See Picturing Perspective Example Chart 2 for an example. First, we will choose a character to examine. Since this is Raoul’s first journey, and the journey is for his recovery, we will examine his perspective on this trip. We will write “Raoul” in the face of our frame. Next, we will record text evidence about his thoughts and feelings about the journey to visit the medicine woman in the U.S. in our thought bubble. For example, Raoul said he was the trip was too much for his “fever brain [to] handle.” He was overwhelmed by his trip.
Then, we will identify elements of Raoul’s cultural background and write them in our frame. Raoul lives in Mexico with his family. He might be a Mexican-Indian because there is reference to various Native tribes in the story, such as the Uqui people and the Huichol women. Also, his father takes bows, arrows, and flint with him on his journey—tools of native people. We also know that Raoul’s family believes in natural or spiritual alternative medicine, because they decide to travel a long distance to see a local medicine woman that might be able to heal Raoul.
We will now draw a conclusion about how Raoul’s culture influences how he views his journey to meet Rosalie Stands Tall. For example, though the journey is dangerous and Raoul is much too sick to travel, his belief and family’s belief in alternative and spiritual medicine push him to go on his first big journey. It is because of Raoul’s cultural beliefs that he leaves his village to visit Rosalie Stands Tall. Another possible conclusion might be that Raoul was overwhelmed by such a long trip because he had not ever traveled from his small village. Mobility to the U.S. is difficult for native Mexicans with little money who live in remote locations.
will reread “The Circuit” and examine the impact of Panchito’s cultural background on his perspective about attending school. You will fill in the Picturing Perspective Worksheet in your Student Packet, recording textual evidence for Panchito’s thoughts and feelings about school, identifying information about Panchito’s culture, and finally explaining how Panchito’s culture impacted his perspective about attending school. (See pages 10-11 in the Student Packet.)
will share our findings and discuss how the character’s perspective is influenced by the character’s cultural background. We will discuss the following question: If the main character in the story had a different cultural background, how would the perspective be different?
Build Student Vocabulary meager
|Tier 2 Word: meager|
|Contextualize the word as it is used in the story||When Raoul goes on the train, he says, “Many times I awoke to find Alejandro shuffling some young thief away from my meager possessions or buying me food at the last stop before a long stretch of desert.”|
|Explain the meaning student-friendly definition)||Meager means small in amount or value. When Alejandro took a young thief away from Raoul’s meager possessions, he was taking the thief away from Raoul’s few possessions. Raoul did not have many things.|
|Students repeat the word||Say the word meager with me: meager.|
|Teacher gives examples of the word in other contexts||The woman lives with meager items and she only has the most important items such as food and clothing. She was served a meager amount of food. My grades were meager, but I was determined to make them better.|
|Students provide examples||What is something that is meager? Start by saying, “_____________________ is meager because ______________________.”|
|Students repeat the word again.||What word are we talking about? meager|
|Additional Vocabulary Words||gush, scowl, mock, surplus, instinctive|
Texts & Materials
(To see all of the ReadWorks lessons aligned to your standards, click here.)