The House on Mango Street

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The House on Mango Street

Content Standards:

  • Students will recognize and analyze the use of various literary devices and be able to incorporate them in their own writing. (narrative analysis 3.7 and writing applications 2.2)

  • Students will write autobiographical narratives, incorporating concrete sensory details. (writing applications 2.1c)

  • Students will revise and publish work following the conventions of grammar and manuscript form. (written and oral language conventions 1.4 and 1.5)

  • Technology:
    Students will incorporate word processing skills for final drafts of essays and pre-readings. In addition, I have created a power point presentation to help scaffold their final analytical essay.

Day One: Journal Questions

Essential question

  • Where does our sense of identity come from?

Related questions:

  • How does environment shape our identity?

  • What identities, if any, are permanent and which do we have the power to change?

  • What roles do neighborhood and community play in shaping who we become?

  • Lesson Plan

  • Introducing the Unit: (1 class period)

  • Write the essential question and the related questions on the board and invite the students to respond and discuss. Invite them to consider the question of identity and perhaps generate a list of what they consider their identities to be. Explain that these are the questions they’ll be grappling with over the next several weeks, both as they relate to our own lives and to help them better understand Esperanza, the main character of The House on Mango Street. Pass out copies of the novel and have students preview the text. Record any observations the students make about what they see on the covers, flipping through the inside, etc. on the board or on chart paper. The students should then share their initial feelings about the text, and use their observations to generate predictions about what they expect to find in the novel. (15-20 minutes)

  • Read the first chapter, The House on Mango Street, aloud as a class and discuss what is revealed about Esperanza and her neighborhood. Consider how Esperanza might answer the essential questions at this point in the text. The teacher should record these observations on chart paper and add to them as the class progresses through the novel. (20-25 minutes)

  • Pass out the House on Mango Street Pre-readings worksheet Pre-readings.doc and go over the structure of the unit and the expectations for pre-readings. Depending on time, continue reading or have students work on pre-reading #1.

  • Homework: Complete pre-reading #1Pre-readings.doc

  • (Note: For purposes of organization I have included the pre-reading questions with each section; they are identical to the topics on the student worksheet).

Lesson Plan: Sections 1, 2, & 3

Section One: Self Definition and Identity: (1 class period)

Pre-reading #1 question: What is the personal significance of your given name (first, middle and last)? Does your name mean different things to you, your family, and your friends? What are your nicknames? What do your nicknames mean to you and those who call you those names?

Read pp. 3-11
The House on Mango Street; Hairs; Boys and Girls; My Name

Students should have completed pre-reading #1 in-class the day before or for homework. Spend some time talking about the question and invite some students to share their work. (5-10 minutes)

Student work: Pre-readings

Read the remaining vignettes from this section, paying particular attention to the stylistic devices the author is using. Revisit Esperanza’s sense of self in the My Name vignette and add any additional observations on where her sense of identity comes from to the chart paper you began the day before. (20-25 minutes)

Suggested activity: "Hairs" Modeling
In this section of the text, students are reminded of (or in some cases introduced to) some of the stylistic devices Cisneros uses to make her writing come alive. After reading (and re-reading) the "Hairs" vignette I have students share lines and images that stand out. They often stumble over reading this passage and become frustrated. When we probe that, they observe that there is very little punctuation in the chapter and many conclude, "It feels more like a poem" because of the images and the rhythm. After discussing some of what is happening stylistically in this chapter, distribute the Elements of Style handout Elements of Style worksheet.doc and review the notes and examples together. When students have a reasonable grasp of the terms, introduce the "Hairs" Modeling Assignment . Hairs_modeling.doc I generally model this assignment with the students both with the text and with my own version of the assignment. Students should begin this process in class and finish for homework. (15-20 minutes)

Homework: Complete a first draft of the "Hairs Modeling" assignment

Student work: "Hairs Modeling" student_samples_hairs.doc


Follow-up activity #1: As an on-going project throughout the book, students identify and record examples of simile, metaphor, personification, alliteration, etc. on a sheet of binder paper. Depending on whether or not they have books to take home, you might want to give them time in class to do this; this works particularly well as a group assignment.

Follow-up activity #2: Figurative Language Quiz (California State Standard 3.7) fig_lang_quiz.DOC

When you feel like students have a good grasp of similes, metaphor and personification, quiz them! I usually give this quiz about half-way through the unit.

Section Two: Friendship, Neighborhood, Home: (1-2 class periods)

Pre-reading #2 question: Is living in a house your family owns different from living in a house or apartment your family rents? How? Are renters, owners and homeless people all considered equal citizens in America? Why or why not?

Read pp. 12-25
Cathy Queen of Cats; Our Good Day;* Laughter; Gil’s Furniture Bought and Sold; Meme Ortiz; Louie, His Cousin and His Other Cousin

Begin class by having students share their "Hairs Modeling" assignments with a partner or small group. Invite some to share either their own or their partners with the whole class. Collect the assignments and give feedback so that students can later do a final draft. (10 minutes)

Give students time to complete pre-reading #2 in class. They sometimes struggle with this question, so review the topic with them carefully to get them started. When they’ve finished, discuss the question as a group before beginning the reading. (20-25 minutes)

Collect pre-readings and read Cathy Queen of Cats; Our Good Day; Laughter; and Gil’s Furniture Bought and Sold together as a class. I would suggest giving student volunteers a highlighted script of Our Good Day to read in a reader’s theater format. The teacher can play the role of the narrator, or that part can be assigned to a student. (20-25 minutes)

(Day 2)

Read and discuss the remaining chapters Meme Ortiz; Louie, His Cousin and His Other Cousin (15-20 minutes)

Suggested activity: Chapter Titles
Note: This assignment is designed to lead into the writing of an autobiographical incident essay or some short, creative pieces imitating Cisneros’ style; the assignment can also stand alone if the students just need an artistic reprieve.

Review together the Table of Contents from House on Mango Street. Have students share observations about the titles, which chapters they are most interested in reading and why, predict what they will find in those chapters, etc. Discuss the creativity of Cisneros’ "chapter titles" and the impact of a title such as "The Rice Sandwich" on a reader’s interest level and curiosity.

Using Cisneros as a model, students should brainstorm a list of 10 ACTUAL significant events from their lives which helped shape their sense of identity (the more interesting and concrete the memory, the better!) and title them accordingly. Once the rough draft of each student’s "Chapter Titles" has been approved, students create a personal table of contents for their own lives. They should come up with a title for their table of contents. The final draft should be artistically/creatively displayed and illustrated; one of these "titles" can become the foundation for an autobiographical incident essay. (35-40 minutes)

Homework: Complete final draft of Chapter Titles

Final assessment option #1: Autobiographical Incident Essay (allow 2-3 days in-class to work) Prior to assigning the essay I usually have students practice telling the story of one of their titles to their peers and/or in free-writes. Go over the writing prompt one day in class and give students the remainder of the period to complete the cluster chart and begin drafting. Have the rough draft due a few days later and spend another day on the peer evaluation and revision strategies.

Technology Note: If possible give students computer access through the drafting process. Some students think much better if they can type rather than handwrite their drafts. The final draft should be typed.

  • Writing prompt autoincidentessay.doc

  • Cluster Chart Cluster chart.doc

  • Peer Evaluation autobiincidentpeer.doc

  • Revision Strategies autoessayrevis.doc

  • Evaluation Rubric autobiog_rubric.DOC

Student work: Autobiographical Incident Paper

Section Three: Freedom and Entrapment (1 class period)

Pre-reading #3 question: In what areas of your life are you most free to do what you like? In what areas of your life do you have the least freedom? Consider the roles gender, race, religion, education, class, age, and upbringing play in limiting an individual’s personal freedom.

Read pp. 26-38 Marin; Those Who Don’t; There Was an Old Woman…; Alicia Who Sees Mice; Darius and the Clouds; And Some More*

Give students time to complete pre-reading #3 in class. The question invites them to consider "the roles gender, race, religion, education, class, age, and upbringing play" in determining an individual’s freedom. While students can write about each of these areas, encourage them to focus on one or two that most directly impact their lives. (20-25 minutes)

Read and discuss the suggested chapters, either as a whole class or in pairs. (And Some More works fabulously in reader’s theater format!) (20-25 minutes)

Depending on time, you can have students work on pre-reading #4 or begin the Houses in the Book chart. (below).

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