Author:
Annmarie Steltzer, Kathleen Maher-Baker, MSDE Admin
Subject:
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Level:
Middle School
Grade:
6
Tags:
Belonging, ELA, English, Grade 6, MSDE, RL.6.2, RL.6.3, RL.6.4, RL.6.5, belonging, ela, grade-6, msde, rl-6-2, rl-6-3, rl-6-4, rl-6-5
License:
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
Language:
English

Education Standards (15)

Grade 6: Belonging, Lesson 2 (remix)

Grade 6: Belonging, Lesson 2 (remix)

Overview

This two-day lesson focuses on the reading and analysis of “The Circuit” by Francisco Jiménez. The goal of this lesson is for students to make inferences about the challenges and changes required of the story’s character, Panchito, and to find evidence of the author’s craft that develops the narrative.

Students will reflect upon the relevance of the essential question (In what ways does our need to feel a sense of belonging conflict with our individuality?) to the narrator's experience.  In particular, students should recognize that the reality of the narrator's individual situation acts as an impediment to his efforts to belong to a community.

Although "The Circuit" is classified as a work of fiction, the author states that the stories represent the lives of his family members.  Students will appreciate Jimenez's descriptive, character-driven writing. 

The Circuit, Day 1

Lesson Procedure

  1. Students will examine several photographs depicting Mexican migrant workers life during the 1940 - 1950 time period.  They may use the Library of Congress photograph analysis tool in order to construct an understanding of what the photographs reveal about migrant life. migrant campmigrant workermigrant womancompany housing
  2. Students will then engage in a brief discussion regarding the following questions:  What can you learn about migrant life during the 1940 - 1950 time period by viewing these photographs? What might life have been like for migrant workers during 1940 - 1950? What would have been some of the challenges or hardships that migrant workers faced?  
  3. Tell students that "The Circuit" is one of a series of semi-autobiographical stories written by Francisco Jimenez, who at the age of four migrated to the United States from Mexico with his family. Throughout his childhood, beginning at the age of 6, Jimenez worked on various California farms.
  4. Students will read "The Circuit" and annotate for words and phrases that the author uses in order to depict the challenges the characters face. If students struggle with some of the tier 2 vocabulary that the author uses such as, instinctively, hesitantly, surplus, and savoring they may use context clues and / or an online dictionary or webtool such as SnappyWords to explore their meaning. 
  5.  The questions below can be used to facilitate a discussion after students have finished reading the story.   Various methods can be employed to structure the discussion (i.e., whole class, small groups, think-pair-share, etc.)  During the discussion, students and the teacher should re-read and return to the text in order to respond to and discuss the questions. 
  • How do the narrator, his brother, and his father seem to feel in paragraphs three and four of the story (as they are leaving work), and why do they feel this way?
  • Where is the family moving, and how does the narrator feel about this move? Contrast Panchito's feelings about the move with other members of his family.  What reasons does the author provide to explain why they feel this way?
  • How does the author's choice of words contribute to the description of this new home? Focus on the paragraph in which the narrator refers to earthworms.
  • What does the family do in order to make the garage their home?  What does this reveal about how the family faces the challenges of migrant life?
  • Describe the narrator's experience of working at the vineyard.
  • Why doesn't the narrator start school until November? What is Panchito's attitude about attending school?
  • On the morning of his first day of school, the narrator will not look Roberto in the eye.
    • Why is this?
    • What does this interaction indicate about the narrator's character?
  • How does the narrator approach the problem that he struggles with reading? What does his approach tell the reader about his character?  How has migrant life impacted Panchito's education?
  • What does the narrator realize at the end of the story?

As a check for individual understanding, students should independently respond in writing to the closure question:

  • Based on what you learned about Panchito and his life from your reading and the discussion, how does the narrator most likely feel at the end of the story? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.

For teacher consideration (extension and enrichment of learning):

  • Students can read a Scholastic transcript of an interview with the author, Francisco Jimenez in order to discuss what they learned about the author and how it deepened their understanding of the story.
  • Students can reflect upon the relevance of the essential question (In what ways does our need to feel a sense of belonging conflict with our individuality?) to the narrator's experience. 

Standards:

RL.6.3: Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

RL.6.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

L.6.3a: Vary sentence patterns for meaning, reader/listener interest, and style.

L.6.5a: Interpret figures of speech (e.g., personification) in context.

  1. Examine several photographs depicting Mexican migrant workers life during the 1940 - 1950 time period.  Use the Library of Congress photograph analysis tool in order to construct an understanding of what the photographs depict as needed.Migrant worker Migrant womanMigrant campcompany housing
  2. Next, engage in a brief discussion with classmates regarding the following questions, What can you learn about migrant life during the 1940 - 1950 time period by viewing these photographs?  What might life have been like for migrant workers during 1940 - 1950?  What would have been some of the challenges or hardships that migrant workers faced?  
  3. Read "The Circuit" independently and annotate for words and phrases that the author uses  to depict the challenges the characters face.  If you struggle with some of the vocabulary that the author uses such as, instinctively, hesitantly, surplus, and savoring use context clues and / or a webtool such as SnappyWords to explore the word's meaning. 
  4.  Engage in a discussion after you have finished reading the story.  Use the questions below to facilitate your discussion. Reread portions of the story and provide textual evidence to support your response.
  • How do the narrator, his brother, and his father seem to feel in paragraphs three and four of the story (as they are leaving work), and why do they feel this way?
  • Where is the family moving, and how does the narrator feel about this move? Contrast Panchito's feelings about the move with other members of his family.  What reasons does the author provide to explain why they feel this way?
  • How does the author's choice of words contribute to the description of this new home? Focus on the paragraph in which the narrator refers to earthworms.
  • What does the family do in order to make the garage their home?  What does this reveal about how the family faces the challenges of migrant life?
  • Describe the narrator's experience of working at the vineyard.
  • Why doesn't the narrator start school until November? What is Panchito's attitude about attending school?
  • On the morning of his first day of school, the narrator will not look Roberto in the eye.
    • Why is this?
    • What does this interaction indicate about the narrator's character?
  • How does the narrator approach the problem that he struggles with reading? What does his approach tell the reader about his character?  How has migrant life impacted Panchito's education?
  • What does the narrator realize at the end of the story?

Independently respond in writing to the closure question:

  • Based on what you learned about Panchito and his life from your reading and the discussion, how does the narrator most likely feel at the end of the story? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.

Extension and Enrichment:

Scholastic Interview Transcript (Francisco Jimenez)

  • What did you learn about the author?
  • How did the interview deepen your understanding of "The Circuit"?

Reflect upon the relevance of the essential question (In what ways does our need to feel a sense of belonging conflict with our indviduality?) to the narrator's experience. 

The Circuit, Day 2

Lesson Procedure

  1. Ask students to conduct a two-minute investigation of the meaning of the word, circuit.  Students may use online dictionaries and / or vocabulary webtools. Students should look for the meaning of the word that best reflects the story and Panchito's experience. Elicit students' thinking.  Ask if they think "The Circuit" is an effective title for this story.
  2. Engage students in brief discussion (i.e., whole or small group, think-pair-share, etc.) of the following prompts / questions: Compare and contrast Panchito’s life at home and school., What challenges does Panchito face as he moves between the two worlds?, What is the cyclical nature of Panchito’s life?,  How is the beginning of the story similar to the ending?, What is the story's message?  How does the last sentence contribute to the story's message?
  3. Next, tell students that they will conduct a close reading of the story in order to examine the author's use of language in conveying Panchito and his family's handships and challenges.  Share the following excerpt with students:  “I dropped to my knees and let the jug roll off my hands. I remained motionless with my eyes glued on the hot, sandy ground. All I could hear was the drone of insects. Slowly I began to recover. I poured water over my face and neck and watched the black mud run down from my arms and hit the ground.”
  4. Ask students to summarize what is happening to Panchito in this excerpt and then to identify some examples of the author's word choices that show the reader what is happening rather than simply telling what is happening.  Ask students how these word choices provide insight into the challenges Panchito faced.  Provide students with addtional support, guided practice, examples, and / or modeling as needed. 
  5. Students will then independently examine portions of the story in order to determine how Jimenez used language (word choice, imagery, figurative language, sentence structure, and repetition) to convey meaning and the challenges of migrant life using the attached resource.  Encourage students to identify the passages that they think are most significant and relevant regarding the hardships Panchito and his family experienced.  
  6. Check for student understanding as needed.  
  7. Students will then respond in writing independently to the following prompt:  What challenges does Panchito face working on the circuit? How does the author use language to convey these challenges?  Use textual evidence to support your ideas. 

For teacher consideration (extension and enrichment of learning): Consider using online databases to find articles related to migrant students in order to compare the challenges faced by Jiménez and present day migrant students.

Standards

RL.6.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

RL.6.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone

RL.6.5 Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.

L.6.5a: Interpret figures of speech (e.g., personification) in context.

  1. Conduct a two-minute investigation of the meaning of the word, circuit using online dictionaries and / or vocubulary webtools.  Search for the meaning of the word that best reflects the story and Panchito's experience. Do you think "The Circuit" is an effective title for this story?
  2. Next, engage in brief discussion of the following: Compare and contrast Panchito’s life at home and school., What challenges does Panchito face as he moves between the two worlds?, What is the cyclical nature of Panchito’s life?,  How is the beginning of the story similar to the ending?, What is the story's message?  How does the last sentence contribute to the story's message?
  3. Now you will conduct a close reading of "The Circuit" in order to examine the author's use of language in conveying Panchito and his family's challenges. Examine and discuss the following story excerpt with your teacher and classmates:  “I dropped to my knees and let the jug roll off my hands. I remained motionless with my eyes glued on the hot, sandy ground. All I could hear was the drone of insects. Slowly I began to recover. I poured water over my face and neck and watched the black mud run down from my arms and hit the ground.”
  4. Summarize what is happening to Panchito in this excerpt and then identify some examples of the author's word choices that show the reader what is happening rather than simply telling what is happening.  Consider how these word choices provide insight into the challenges Panchito faced.  
  5. Next, you will independently examine portions of the story in order to determine how Jimenez used language (word choice, imagery, figurative language, sentence structure, and repetition) to convey meaning and the challenges of migrant life using the attached resource.  Identify the passages that you think are most significant and relevant regarding the hardships Panchito and his family experienced. 
  6. Respond in writing independently to the following prompt:  What challenges does Panchito face working on the circuit? How does the author use language to convey these challenges?  Use textual evidence to support your ideas.