Becoming a Close Reader and Writing to Learn: Stories of Human Rights
What are human rights, and how do real people and fictional characters respond when those rights are challenged? Students will develop their ability to read and understand complex text as they consider this question. Students will begin to build knowledge about human rights through a close read of the introduction and selected articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), paired with short firsthand accounts of people around the world who currently face human rights challenges. In Unit 2, students will do an extended study of Esperanza Rising (740L) by Pam Muñoz Ryan, applying their new learning about human rights as one lens through which to interpret the character and theme in this rich novel—a complex coming-of-age story set in Mexico and rural California during the early 1930s. Through close reading, interpretation, and analysis of fiction and nonfiction texts, students will synthesize their understanding of human rights. The specific literacy focus is on supporting understanding through quoting directly from text, inferring theme, and comparing and contrasting how different texts address the topics and themes of human rights. Students will write an analytical essay in which they describe how a character in the novel responds to challenges. In Unit 3, students will continue to revisit the text and themes of the UDHR and Esperanza Rising as they read, write, and ultimately perform Readers Theater. Students will compare novels and Readers Theater as two forms of narrative writing. They will then select specific articles of the UDHR that relate thematically to the novel and reread key passages of the novel with that theme in mind. They will write individual and small group scripts based on these key passages and on phrases from the UDHR. Students will revise, rehearse, and ultimately perform their group Readers Theater scripts for their class and/or school or community members. This performance task centers on NYSP12 standards W.5.3, W.5.4, W.5.5, and W.5.11.