Finding Home: Refugees
In this module, students will develop their ability to read and understand complex text as they consider the challenges of fictional and real refugees. In the first unit, students will begin Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai, analyzing how critical incidents reveal the dynamic nature of the main character, Ha, a 10-year-old Vietnamese girl whose family is deciding whether to flee during the fall of Saigon. The novel, poignantly told in free verse, will challenge students to consider the impact of specific word choice on tone and meaning. Students will build their ability to infer and analyze text, both in discussion and through writing. They then will read informational text to learn more about the history of war in Vietnam, and the specific historical context of Ha’s family’s struggle during the fall of Saigon. In Unit 2, students will build knowledge about refugees’ search for a place to call home. They will read informational texts that convey universal themes of refugees’
experiences across various times and cultures as they flee and find home. As they continue to move through the novel, they will focus on how particular incidents move the story forward and reveal aspects of Ha’s character. Unit 2 culminates in which students examine how the universal refugee experience causes the refugee’s life to be turned inside out and eventually return back again. In Unit 3, having finished the novel, students will reread critical incidents, while also working in research groups to study the experiences of refugees from one of several cultures. Students will use this knowledge to write to write two, free verse narrative poems that capture the universal refugee experience. Students will reread poems from the novel as mentor texts. These free-verse narrative poems performance task centers on NYSP12 ELA Standards RI.8.1, RI.8.2, W.8.3, W.8.4, W.8.5, W.8.7, W.8.9, L.8.1, and L.8.2.