Category Archives: Literature

Should Students See Themselves in the Books They Read?

“Reading books by Latina writers taught me our stories were worthy of being told.” V. Matir, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Jump Rope – The author and her family at Palmetto Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in June 1983. Credit: Meryl Meisler

 

Excerpt: I Was ‘Too Much’ for Boarding School. But I Had the Garcia Sisters.

“I grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in the 1980s, in what felt like a forgotten neighborhood.  Abandoned buildings loomed over piles of garbage and rubble. Playgrounds were overrun by drug dealers. But for me, Bushwick was a place imbued with my culture.

A piraguero (pronounced pee‐rah GWAY‐row)—one of a breed of street vendors that has become a hot‐weather institution in El Barrio

There were piragua carts with multicolored umbrellas selling shaved ice on every corner. The bodeguero Miguel gave my mother credit when our food stamps ran out. The Puerto Rican flag hung from almost every window.

My mother migrated from Honduras to New York in 1971. When I was 2 years old my mother met and fell in love with another woman, Millie, which was then widely considered taboo. Two years later we all moved into a two-bedroom railroad-style apartment.

The paint cracked and peeled off the walls, but we always had food on the table, even if it was white rice, fried eggs and canned corned beef…My life took a turn at 13 when my social studies teacher saw promise in me and suggested I take part in A Better Chance, a program that places low-income minority students in top schools around the country. I applied and was offered a four-year scholarship to attend a boarding-school-type program at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts…

I remember gazing out the window in awe as gorgeous mansions with perfect manicured lawns came into view. I moved into a four-story house with other students complete with a study and fireplace… But I soon realized that I was different. My guidance counselor would often pull me aside and tell me I was ‘too loud’ and ‘too much.’

Two Boys Crossing Gates Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn, Vanessa Mártir

Growing up, I’d read the Sweet Valley High series, Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and all the Judy Blume books. The characters in them didn’t look like me, but I was too young to understand the difference or know it could matter.

One day in my junior year, I was reading on the mezzanine overlooking the cafeteria, when my English professor, Mr. Goddard, approached me. ‘You should read this,’ he said and handed me How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. My eyes stopped at the writer’s name, Julia Alvarez. ‘That’s a Spanish name,’ I thought.

I saw myself reflected in the story of the Garcia sisters, who had fled to the United States from the Dominican Republic with their parents. They went to boarding school and, like me, had trouble fitting in. It began to dawn on me that there must be other writers like Ms. Alvarez out there. I asked teachers for recommendations and dug through the library shelves on campus.

Later I would discover the work of Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherríe Moraga, Sandra Cisneros.

What was missing for me was the narrative of the Latina who left the ’hood to pursue an education only to find that she no longer fit in anywhere. I was too loud at boarding school and a sellout in the place I had once called home.

For years I’d chronicle my joys and heartbreaks in journals and scribble down poems on napkins at bars. On weekends I’d go to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I was in awe of the poets who read their work aloud. I longed to be that brave. I was the only one of my siblings to graduate from college… When I learned I was pregnant in 2003, something inside me shifted. I wanted my daughter to learn by watching her mamá that she could live out her dreams. I dusted off my journals and wrote throughout my pregnancy. My first novel,  A Woman’s Cry, was published in 2007, three years after she was born. After my novel was published I sought out other writers of color. At last I found a place where I felt I belonged.

My mother still lives in the same apartment in Bushwick. The neighborhood is no longer reminiscent of a war zone…I buy my daughter, who is now 15 years old, books by writers like Elizabeth Acevedo, Jacqueline Woodson and Gabby Rivera. I teach writing in neighborhoods like the one I grew up in. I know from experience that when children see positive images of themselves reflected in front of the classroom, in books and on the big screen, it can make all the difference. This is how change happens, and it’s how we create a country in which all of us feel we belong. One story at a time.”

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine the photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Abandoned buildings loomed over piles of garbage and rubble
  2. For me, Bushwick was a place imbued with my culture.
  3. My mother migrated from Honduras to New York in 1971.
  4. She fell in love with another woman which was then widely considered taboo.
  5. The program placed low-income minority students in top schools.
  6. I remember gazing out the window in awe.
  7. Rosie Perez as Tina in the 1989  film Do The Right Thing was the only exposure to a Latina I had.
  8. One day in my junior year, I was reading on the mezzanine overlooking the cafeteria.
  9. I saw myself reflected in the story of the Garcia sisters.
  10. For years I’d chronicle my joys and heartbreaks in journals.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,as, across, around,by, during,for, from, in, into,of, on,to, over,off, through, up,with, since,

Additional Prepositions:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_prepositions

I grew up___Bushwick, Brooklyn, ___the 1980s,___what felt like a forgotten neighborhood.

Abandoned buildings loomed ___piles ___garbage and rubble.

My mother migrated ___Honduras___New York___1971.

My life took a turn___13 when my social studies teacher saw promise___me.

Millie’s brother drove me___school ___a beat-up blue Pentecostal church van.

I saw myself reflected___the story___ the Garcia sisters, who had fled ___the United States___the Dominican Republic ___their parents.

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. The author grew up in Manhattan, in the 1980s.
  2. The playgrounds were overrun by happy children.
  3. The grocer  Miguel gave the author’s mother credit when their food stamps ran out.
  4. Her mother migrated from  Puerto Rico to New York in 1971.
  5. The mother fell in love with an American man.
  6. The author was offered  a four-year scholarship to Wellesley High School in Massachusetts.
  7. While at Wellesley, the author realized that  she was just like the other students.
  8. Her English professor, Mr. Goddard introduced her to the book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, by Julia Alverez.
  9. For years she would chronicle her  joys and heartbreaks in journals.
  10. The author’s  mother still lives in the same apartment in Bushwick.

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. In your opinion is it important for students to feel  represented by the books they are reading? Why or why not?
  2. Do you see yourself in the books that you read? Name the books.
  3. Are there any authors that you particularly like to read?  Why?
  4. The author states, “Mr. Goddard, approached me. ‘You should read this,’ he said and handed me How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. My eyes stopped at the writer’s name, Julia Alvarez. ‘That’s a Spanish name” Are there authors from your own country that you enjoy reading? Who are they?
  5. How did you discover the authors that you identify with?
  6. In your opinion, who should be responsible for introducing students to books with which they can identify? For example, parents, teachers, librarians or someone else?
  7. Name at least two things that you have learned form reading this article.

ANSWER KEY

Lesson Plan: The Little Match Girl By Hans Christian Andersen

“Hans Christian Andersen,(April 1805 – 4 August 1875), in Denmark usually called H.C. Andersen, was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen’s popularity is not limited to children; his stories express themes that transcend age and nationality. The Little Match Girl is among his most famous stories.” Wikipedia

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Han Christian Andersen

Excerpt: “Andersen’s fairy tales, of which no fewer than 3381 works have been translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West’s collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well.

Early Life Andersen’s father, who had received an elementary school education, introduced his son to literature, reading to him the Arabian Nights.Andersen’s mother, Anne Marie Andersdatter, was an illiterate washerwoman. Following her husband’s death in 1816, she remarried in 1818.

Andersen was sent to a local school for poor children where he received a basic education and had to support himself, working as an apprentice to a weaver and, later, to a tailor. At fourteen, he moved to Copenhagen to seek employment as an actor.

Having an excellent soprano voice, he was accepted into the Royal Danish Theatre, but his voice soon changed.

A colleague at the theatre told him that he considered Andersen a poet. Taking the suggestion seriously, Andersen began to focus on writing.

He later said his years in school were the darkest and most bitter of his life. At one school, he lived at his schoolmaster’s home, where he was abused, being told that it was “to improve his character”. He later said the faculty had discouraged him from writing, driving him into a depression…”

The Little Match Girl is a short story by Hans Christian Andersen. The story, about a poor, dying child’s dreams and hope, was first published in 1845.

Source: Wikipedia 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: intermediate-advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing and speaking. Vocabulary  activities are included.

Time:  approximately 2  hours.

Objectives: Students will achieve a better understanding of the story The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen, through  learning literary devices and terms  (e.g., imagery, symbolism, protagonist, themes)  used for analyzing stories.  They will also learn how to  analyze the relationship between characters, and events in the story using these literary devices.

Reading Strategies: Students will make predictions based on the title; draw conclusions and make generalizations about what they have read by utilizing background knowledge, looking for the main ideas, making notes, highlighting or underlining specific information, and by answering discussion questions. They will learn new vocabulary through inference, highlighting unknown words, and using the dictionary.

Materials:

A copy of the story The Little Match Girl

Biography of Hans Christian Andersen.

Examples of  Components for Literary Analysis

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Directions: In groups have students read the brief biography of Hans C. Andersen. Have students focus on his childhood. Some highlights from the life of Hans Christian Andersen will help students make connections to the story.

Students should also know when the story was written: This story was written in the midst of the United States’ and Europe’s industrial revolution (1820-1870’s), during which child labor was commonplace, and there was no “safety net” for destitute children in poor health and homeless.

Source: History of Child Labor

Pre-reading Discussion Questions

Directions: Place students in groups and let them discuss the following questions.

  1. Have you ever seen underaged children selling items on the street in today’s society?
  2. Have you (or someone you know) ever had to sell items to get money to eat or pay rent? To help your family?
  3. Have you met people so poor they had to sell small items on the street?
  4. If you could help some people during the Christmas or New Years season would you?

 

Stimulating Background Knowledge

Prediction Organizer Charts

Directions: Students may use these reading charts by Pace High School as  pre-reading, while-reading and post-reading tools to aid their comprehension of the events and characters in the story.

Prediction Outcomes Chart

 

II. While Reading

Vocabulary Word Inference

Directions: Place students in groups and have them infer the meanings of the words in bold font taken from the story.

  1. No one had given her a single farthing.
  2. They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn.
  3. One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin.
  4. The poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street.
  5. She did not venture to go home.
  6. Grandmother, told her that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.
  7. She drew another match against the wall nd in the lustre there stood the old grandmother.
  8. Old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love.
  9. And the matches gave such a brilliant light that it was brighter than at noon-day.
  10. No one even dreamed of the splendour in which, with her grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year.

Reading Comprehension: Questions From the Story

  1. When does the story take place?
  2. Why were her slippers so large?
  3. Why didn’t she want to go home?
  4. Why did she light the first match?
  5. Why did she light the entire bundle of matches?
  6. What happened to the little girl at the end?
  7. What did the little girl see before she died?

Using Charts for Guidance

Directions: Use the following chart to help make predictions about the characters in the story

 

Character Prediction Chart

 

Questions forCharacter Analysis

From whose point of view is the story being told?

Who is the protagonist in this story?

Give a brief description of the following characters using the chart above:

The Father:What kind of man do you think he is?

The Mother: What do you think the mother was like?

The Grandmother: Describe the grandmother.

The Little Match girl: What kind of person is she?

 

Questions for Literary Analysis

  1.  What are some of  the themes in the story?
  2. Provide examples of how  Andersen uses imagery.
  3. Does  Andersen provide symbolism the story? How?

 

Questions For Reflection

  1. Do you think Andersen’s personal life affected his writing  this story of a poor matchstick girl? In what way?
  2. During the writing of this story, it was legal for underaged children to work. Can underage  children still work today? Why or why not?
  3. What  can kids who live in poverty today do to make money?
  4. How is what kids do today to earn money different (or the same) as the little matchstick girl?
  5. If you met the little Match girl how do you think you could help her?
  6. If you could speak to her father, what would you say to him?  What would you say to her grandmother? Her mother?
  7. How did the ending make you feel?  Is this how you expected the story to end? Why or why not?

Ideas for Writing Assignment

Write a story where the grandmother is still alive.

Write a story where the little girl’s mother is still alive.

Write an ending describing the father’s reaction when he discovers his daughter is dead.

Write a different ending for the story.

ANSWER KEY

An Adult View of Some Amazing Stories by Maurice Sendak

“My mother’s glamorous friend Ronnie gave her Where the Wild ThingsAre as a 40th birthday gift… it was 1978, and that Maurice Sendak classic was a perfectly sophisticated gift for a grown woman whose children were well past picture-book read-alouds.” M. Russo, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Maurice Sendak

Excerpt: In Praise of Maurice Sendak, by Maria Russo, The New York Times

Where the Wild Things Are is the first in what Sendak called his trilogy, books published many years apart and linked not by shared characters or settings but by a deeper affinity of theme: How we can access an inner life to wrest ourselves out of our childhood families and face the scary larger world, thereby growing up. By now, I’ve read the books many times to my own children, astonished at how much is in them for my grown-up self — about that growing-up process, and about the times I grew up in, too.

Where the Wild Things Are is not the famous six-page wordless sequence in which Max and the Wild Things have a ‘wild rumpus’ — even though, yes, it’s an enduring reminder of the importance of letting loose now and then (surely that’s what Ronnie had in mind for my upstanding mom as she turned 40).

Credit Where the Wild Things Are:Copyright 1963, 1991 by Maurice Sendak

It is the exhilarating moment before that, when Max first escapes from his punishment. He’s been sent to his room without supper, you may recall, for nailing stuff to the walls, chasing the dog with a fork, and yelling ‘I’ll eat you up!’ at his mother when she calls him a ‘wild thing.’  Then it happens: His room turns into a nighttime forest, and ‘an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max and he sailed off through night and day…When Max gets back home he finds that ‘his supper was waiting for him’ in his room — ‘and it was still hot.’

In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak-Photo- raptisrarebooks

The second in the trilogy, In the Night Kitchen published in 1970, overflows with food. No surprise: Eating is a physical experience we carry with us relatively unchanged from childhood to adulthood. Our little protagonist, Mickey, awakens to a ‘racket’ from downstairs, falls through the dark, out of his clothes, and ends up in the ‘night kitchen’ with bakers who stay up working so we can have cake in the morn. Why did Sendak depict Mickey naked, once he falls out of bed? Defending his choice against the inevitable dreary calls for censorship, Sendak spoke of ‘the dignity and truth’ of the human body.

Sendak’s book is seeded with deeper meanings, not just about ‘the dignity and truth of the human body’ but about his own homosexuality, and his Jewish historical consciousness.  The name of his father, Philip, and a tribute to his partner, Eugene Glynn, are right there, on the can of ‘Philip’s Best Tomatoes’ and a building shaped like a milk carton that says ‘PURE’ on one side and ‘E. Glynn’ on the other. Also hidden in plain sight is the historical horror Sendak evokes in the gonzo plot line of a child trying to avoid being put in an oven. ‘Mickey Oven,’it says in red letters.

The bakers carry a container of salt with a Jewish star on it, and their caterpillar-like mustaches evoke Oliver Hardy’s, but also, when you look twice, Hitler’s. ‘The Holocaust has run like a river of blood through all my books,’ Sendak said once.

Credit Outside Over There:Copyright 1981 by Maurice Sendak

The third book in the trilogy, Outside Over There published in 1981, covers its darkness of theme with painterly art. In this book, Sendak is inviting us to grapple with adolescence and its definitive break with the securities of childhood. The protagonist is an 8 year-old who is charged with looking after her baby sister ‘when Papa was away at sea.’ Her mother can’t — because she’s paralyzed by grief and depression.

The baby gets stolen by goblins and when big sister brings the baby home, triumphant, she finds her mother reading a letter from Papa. He tells her to take care of the baby and ‘Mama’.

Perhaps this is Sendak’s central point in the trilogy: At some moment every child realizes that their parents not only can’t fight off the monsters — they don’t even notice them.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups  to brainstorm what they already know about the author Maurice Sendak and his stories.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming chart by UIE

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

  1. My mother’s glamorous friend Ronnie gave her a book.
  2. The book was a sophisticated gift for a grown woman.
  3. Sendak called his trilogy books important.
  4. The book is an enduring reminder of the importance of letting loose now and then.
  5. When Max first escapes it is an exhilarating moment.
  6. Mickey plunges into an enormous vat of batter, and is almost baked.
  7. Fortunately, he extricates himself, fashioning the dough around his body into a plane.
  8. The bakers carry a container of salt with a Jewish star on it.
  9. Sendak is inviting us to grapple with adolescence and its break with the securities of childhood.
  10. Yet the book is not offering some idealized vision of safe, genteel life.

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. The images look like they was born as ads.
  2. Sendak’s book is seeded with deeper meanings.
  3. The name of his father is included on the page.

II

  1. He’s was sent to his room without supper.
  2. His room turns into a nighttime forest.
  3. Max sailed off through night.

 

III

  1. Perhaps this is Sendak’s central point.
  2. She look paralyzed by grief and depression.
  3. The name of his father, Philip is in the book.

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. Dr. Seuss once said, ‘I have to reach and keep hold of the child in me.’
  2. Where the Wild Things Are is the first in what Sendak called his trilogy.
  3. In the book Max’s room turns into a circus.
  4. When Max gets back home he finds his supper was waiting for him.
  5. The third story in the trilogy, was In the Night Kitchen.
  6. The protagonist in this story is Mickey.
  7. The little boy falls into a night kitchen naked.
  8. There is not much symbolism in The Night Kitchen.
  9. The third book is entitled Outside Over There.
  10. The story is about a little girl who takes care of her younger sister.

 

Post Reading Exercises

Letters to the author

Directions: Place students in groups and have each group list 3questions that they would like to ask Maurice Sendak. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Literature | Tags:

Literary Classics Become Public Domain in 2019

“Nearly a century ago, the publisher Alfred A. Knopf released a slim book of spiritual fables by an obscure poet and painter named Kahlil Gibran. Knopf had modest expectations…Much to his surprise, the book — titled The Prophet — took off. Until now, the publishing house that still bears Knopf’s name has held the North American copyright on the title. But that will change on Jan. 1, when The Prophet enters the public domain.” A. Alter, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: New Life for Old Classics as Their Copyrights Run Out,  A. Alter, The New York Times

“… works by thousands of other artists and writers, including Marcel Proust, Willa Cather, D. H. Lawrence, Agatha Christie, Joseph Conrad, Edith Wharton, P. G. Wodehouse, Rudyard Kipling, Katherine Mansfield, Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens [will also enter the public domain].

This coming year marks the first time in two decades that a large body of copyrighted works will lose their protected status — a shift that will have profound consequences for publishers and literary estates, which stand to lose both money and creative control.

But it will also be a boon for readers, who will have more editions to choose from, and for writers and other artists who can create new works based on classic stories without getting hit with an intellectual property lawsuit…The sudden deluge of available works traces back to legislation Congress passed in 1998, which extended copyright protections by 20 years. The law reset the copyright term for works published from 1923 to 1977 — lengthening it from 75 years to 95 years after publication — essentially freezing their protected status.

Now that the term extension has run out, the spigot has been turned back on. Each January will bring a fresh crop of novels, plays, music and movies into the public domain. ‘Eventually, these books belong to the people,’ said James L. W. West III, a Fitzgerald scholar. ‘We can have new attempts to edit and reinterpret all of these iconic texts.’

Once books become part of the public domain, anyone can sell a digital, audio or print edition on Amazon.  Theater and film producers can adapt the works into movies, plays and musicals without having to secure rights. Rival publishing houses can issue new print editions, and scholars can publish new annotated versions and interpretations.

It’s difficult to say exactly how many works will enter the public domain this January, because some authors and publishers allowed their copyright to lapse, and some foreign-language books first published overseas in 1923 may remain under copyright for now, like Felix Salten’s BambiSome publishers and the writers’ heirs fear that losing copyright protections will lead to inferior editions with typos and other errors, and to derivative works that damage the integrity of iconic stories.

Still, many scholars and legal experts argue that American copyright law, which is mind-numbingly complex, has skewed toward enriching companies and the heirs of writers and artists at the expense of the public…Publishers often stop printing books that aren’t selling, but still retain the copyright, so no one else can release new editions. Once the books enter the public domain, a wider variety of new editions become available again, filling in a hole in the public and cultural record.

Legacy publishers are also snapping up newly available works. Penguin Classics is releasing new editions of Cane, [and] Gibran’s The Prophet.Vintage Classics is publishing a new edition of Robert Frost’s New Hampshire.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Kahlil Gibran was an obscure poet.
  2. The publishing house has held the North American copyright on the title.
  3. This new shift that will have profound consequences for publishers.
  4. But it will also be a boon for readers, who will have more editions to choose from.
  5. The sudden deluge of available works traces back to legislation Congress passed in 1998.
  6. Some writers’ heirs fear that losing copyright protections will lead to inferior editions.
  7. Many also fear that typos and other errors will damage the integrity of iconic stories.
  8. Scholars and legal experts argue that American copyright law has skewed toward enriching companies.
  9. Over the decades, lawmakers repeatedly prolonged the terms.
  10. Theater and film producers can adapt the works into movies, plays and musicals.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. The shift  will have profound consequences for publishers.
  2. Book are going to be available in a much wider variety.
  3. Each January will bring a fresh crop of novels plays, music and movies into the public domain.

 

II

  1. These book belong to the people.
  2. Fans can publish and sell their own sequels and spinoffs.
  3. Theater and film producers can adapt the works into movies.

 

III

  1. Free digital copies will circulate online.
  2. It’s difficult to said exactly how many works will enter the public domain this January.
  3. Publishers who specialize in classics see a tremendous opportunity to reintroduce old works.

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

In___of a flood of new ___of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby when the ___expires in 2021, the Fitzgerald estate and his publisher, Scribner, released a new edition of the novel in April, hoping to position it as the definitive ___of the text.

The___has sold around 30 million ___worldwide, and continues to sell more than 500,000 ___a year in the ___alone.

WORD LIST: novel, United States, anticipation, copies, version, editions, copyright, copies,

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. The article states, “Books are going to be available in a much wider variety now, and they’re going to be cheaper,” said Imke Reimers, an assistant professor of economics at Northeastern University who has studied the impact of copyright. “Consumers and readers are definitely going to benefit from this.” Explain how readers will benefit from having access to so many books.
  2. According to the author once books become available to the public, what will people such as theater and film producers be able to do with the literary works?
  3. The article states, “Some publishers and the writers’ heirs fear that losing copyright protections will lead to inferior editions with typos and other errors, and to derivative works that damage the integrity of iconic stories.” Do you agree or disagree with this idea? Provide reasons for your answer.
  4. With your group members create a list of your favorite classic novels. Is there a novel  form the list that you would change?  Explain why or why not.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. 

ANSWER KEY

Category: Literature

The Gift That Keeps Giving: ‘The Gift of the Magi’

“Just over 105 years ago, William Sydney Porter sat in a dim, high-backed booth—the third one from the window—in Pete’s Tavern on Irving Place, which cross-sects the Gramercy area of Manhattan. While patrons drank at the adjacent rosewood bar—he sat and penned one of the most enduring love stories to come after the turn of the 20th century. That writer is better known as O. Henry, and according to legend—a plaque commemorates that booth at Pete’s over a century later—he scripted his famous The Gift of the Magi  there.” K. Fallon, The Atlantic

Book Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Book Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for Gift of the Magi with Answer Key

Excerpt: The Gift of ‘The Gift of the Magi’ By Kevin Fallon, The Atlantic

“The indelible short story was first published on December 10, 1905 in the New York Sunday World Magazine. O. Henry was among the most popular writers of his day, with Magi being published at the height of his fame. The tale, a simply structured, exquisitely told story of self-sacrifice, generosity, and love, closed with the O. Henry signature: an ironic twist.

O. Henry- 1862-1910. In 2012 the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp to observe the sesquicentennial of O. Henry's birth.

O. Henry- 1862-1910. In 2012 the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp to observe the sesquicentennial of O. Henry’s birth.

From its opening the story is relatable; destitution is a theme that will never lose relevance. Della and Jim are 22-year-old newlyweds, earning a $20 a week income, and living in a humble apartment—the kind furnished with a shabby little couch and pier-glass window panes.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

She had been saving every penny she could for months… So deeply in love with her husband, Della can’t bear not giving him a Christmas gift and sells off her hair to purchase a fob chain for his watch… we discover that he has pawned the watch to afford the tortoise-shell combs Della had been eyeing to comb her hair.  In the age where shoppers line up at 3 am to buy a HDTV at a 10 percent discount, perhaps the story constantly resurfaces to serve as a sort of moral compass, steering us back on course to the season of giving.It’s a reminder of the way we should be living, with love first, giving second, and possession below all.”

WISHING EVERYONE HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

~ESL VOICES~

Design by webarts

Design by webarts

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for Gift of the Magi

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary activities are included.

Time: approximately 2 hours.

Materials:  Copy of story The Gift Of The Magi,  biography of O. Henry, examples of Components for Literary Analysis, and access to the video below.

Objectives:  Students will  read and discuss the short story The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. Students will achieve a better understanding of the story by learning literary devices and terms  (e.g., imagery, symbolism, setting,) used for analyzing stories.  They will also learn how to  analyze the relationship between characters, and events in the story by using these literary devices.

I. Pre-Reading Exercises

Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Ask students to read the title of the short story. Then, have them  examine the photo carefully. Based on these sources,  ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article.

 Discussion Questions

Directions: Have students discuss the following questions.

The Gift of the Magi is a story about a young married couple who are very poor. This story tells of  how they handle the challenge of  secretly buying Christmas gifts for each other with very little money to spend. The questions below ask you to think about gifts and their value.  Discuss your ideas with your class members.

1. In your opinion what makes a gift  valuable?

2. Describe the most valuable gift you have ever received.

3. What was the most valuable gift you have given someone?

II. While Reading Tasks

Vocabulary:  Word Inference

Directions: Place students in groups and have them infer the meanings of the words in bold font taken from the story. They can use this great Vocabulary Chart by Learnnc.org as a guide.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

  1. This is a  story about the meaning of true love and unselfishness.
  2. Della sat  down on the shabby little couch and howled.
  3. They lived in a furnished flat at $8 per week.
  4. In the vestibule below was a letter-box. 
  5. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated.
  6. Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass
  7. There were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride.
  8. Once she faltered for a minute.
  9. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.
  10. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
Prediction and Character Organizer Charts

Directions: Students may use these Prediction and Character  profile charts by Pace High School as  a while-reading tool to aid in  their comprehension of the events and of the characters in the story.

CHARACTER Prediction Chart: Pace High School

CHARACTER Prediction Chart: Pace High School

OUTCOME PREDICTIONS Pace High School

OUTCOME PREDICTIONS Pace High School

 

III. Post Reading Exercises

Questions for Comprehension

Directions: After students have reviewed Components for Literary Analysis have them answer the following questions from the story. 

  1. During what holiday does the story take place?
  2. Identify the characters in the story.
  3. What are the two valuable possessions  belonging to Della and Jim?
  4. How much money did Della have at first to buy Jim’s gift?
  5. What did Della do to get additional money for his gift?
  6. What gift did Della buy for Jim?
  7. How did Jim get additional money to buy Della’s gift?
  8. What gift did Jim buy for Della?
  9. Did things work out the way Jim and Della planned? Explain why or why not.
Questions for Reflection

Directions:  In groups have students discuss the following questions.

  1. What are some of the themes in the story?
  2. What are some of the symbols in the story?
  3. Imagery is descriptive language that creates a picture in the reader’s mind.  Identify some examples of how O. Henry used imagery.
  4. What  does the reference to the magi mean in this story?
Writing Assignment 

Directions: Have students choose a topic from below and write an essay to share with the class.

  1.  Some of the themes in this  story are selfless love, sacrifice, and the frustration of poverty. Choose one of these themes and write an essay describing your thoughts about the theme.
  2.  Write a description for each character  that appears in the story.
  3.  O. Henry is famous for the surprise endings in his stories. In The Gift of The Magi  the surprise is that both Jim and Della sacrificed their most cherished possession for the other. See if you can write a different “surprise” ending for the story. Share your ending with the class.
IV. Listening Activity  

Video Clip:  O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi (Free Audio Book) 

Questions for Discussion (Listening)

• After listening to the story, do you feel that you understand it better?   If yes, describe in what way. If no, explain why not.

• Do you prefer the written or aural version of The Gift of the Magi? Provide reasons for your choice.

Additional Activities for Students

Student Interactive: Comic Stories

Directions: In groups have students create short comic strips depicting the events of this short story. Students can vary the dialog of the characters for fun. For a good comic-strip generator visit:  Read Write and Think

Students Write Different Endings

Directions: Have each group write a different ending to the story and share them with the class.

ANSWER KEY: The Gift of the Magi

Category: Literature | Tags: