6th Grade Language Arts
“The Bracelet” by Yoshiko Uchida is about a young Japanese American girl, Ruri, and her family during World War II. Ruri’s family lives in te United States and is forced to move to an internment camp and leave friends and belongings behind. Ruri’s best friend gives her a bracelet to remember her by. Ruri loses the bracelet at the internment camp and fears that her past is gone. She learns that things do not cherish the past, memories do and they cannot be taken or misplaced. “Wartime Mistakes, Peacetime Apologies” by Nancy Day chronicles the events and outcomes of interning Japanese Americans during World War II. The texts will highlight internal and external conflicts.
1) The overreaching theme is conflict and discrimination.
2) The questions that drives this unit is “How can the U.S. learn from its history?” and “Can the U.S. truly compensate Japanese Americans in order make up for their actions?”
3) The students will read about the discrimination of Japanese Americans in the 1940s. Then they will read about a young girl who struggles to hold on to her life and friends during a war and internment. Their final essay will answer the prompt:
Write an essay that addresses the theme of conflict in “The Bracelet” and “Wartime Mistakes, Peacetime Apologies”. How does the external conflict during WWII affect Ruri’s internal conflict. Use at least 2 events/situations from the texts and support them with evidence.
Focus Standards 6th Grade:
2.3 Connect and clarify main ideas by identifying their relationships to other sources and
Literary Response and Analysis
3.2 Analyze the effect of the qualities of the character (e.g., courage or cowardice, ambition or laziness) on the plot and the resolution of the conflict.
3.3 Analyze the influence of setting on the problem and its resolution.
2.4 Write responses to literature:
a. Develop an interpretation exhibiting careful reading, understanding, and insight.
b. Organize the interpretation around several clear ideas, premises, or images.
c. Develop and justify the interpretation through sustained use of examples and textual evidence.
My goal for this unit is to take a very average text book unit and transform it into an engaging experience where vocabulary is explored with the intention of helping students gain academic language and comprehension of the texts. As Kevin Feldman and Kate Kinsella cite in their article, “Narrowing the Language Gap: The Case for Explicit Vocabulary Instruction,” teachers have to create engaging and rigorous lessons. They write, “simply exposing second language students to English-language rich, interactive classrooms is woefully insufficient; intensive instruction of academic vocabulary and related grammatical knowledge must be carefully orchestrated…to attain rigorous content standards” (1). The typical process of looking up words in the dictionary, studying, and assessing does not ensure vocabulary development. When the teacher makes the content accessible for language learners, all students benefit.
The students will define important concepts with the aid of maps and use them to comprehend the two complimentary texts. Merely reading a text and administering a test does not reach the potential of the students. Robert E. Probst writes in his article, “Responding to Reading,” that “comprehension requires not just seeing the text; it requires seeing through the text to something that lies beyond” (56). When fiction is paired with nonfiction, the students can gain a much deeper understanding of the theme or message. Probst suggests, “To comprehend them well, our students need not only analyze them carefully, but weigh them against other texts, and reflect on them with other readers, trying to see through them to a world behind the words” (57). The words that teachers choose need to serve the student in various functions. First, the vocabulary serves to better comprehend the texts, and second, to extend them to other content areas and experiences.
Building Academic Background Knowledge
§ Internal Conflict
§ External Conflict
Internal and external conflicts are important concepts to know for this unit and students will certainly see these terms used in the future.
“Wartime Mistakes, Peacetime Apologies”
§ Executive Order
Internment and executive order are the important concepts in this article and will overlap with both texts.
After introducing and pronouncing each new concept, we will complete a concept map (attached). For language learners, I will have some of the map completed for them.
These words are likely to appear in multiple texts across the curriculum. Aliens is an interesting and essential word because it refers to people and how they were treated during World War II.
“Wartime Mistakes, Peacetime Apologies”
§ Filed Suit
These words capture the process that the U.S. government took to attempt to compensate the Japanese Americans for their internment after Pearl Harbor. They also function as necessary words to know in order to write about the two texts.
I will use Feldman and Kinsella’s instructional steps to teaching vocabulary (5-7).
1) Pronounce—The class will pronounce each word three times each. Each time I will vary voice and pronunciation to add engagement in the activity.
2) Explain—The students will hear the definition in familiar language. For example, I would say “The word ‘evacuate’ means to empty, abandon, or removed from an area. For example, the fire alarm sounded, so we had to ______ (students will say evacuate together).
3) Provide Examples—Give examples that represent different content areas and real life instances.
4) Elaborate—I will give the student time to create meaning.
I will then hand out their Vocabulary Note-Taking Guide and allow students to fill out the guide in class.
5) Assess—“Yes-No-Why” the test will have sample sentences and the students will decide if it is correct or incorrect, and additionally, why.
Unit Calendar—55-minute periods