In this second unit, students will apply their new learning about human rights through a case study of how a fictional character responds to human rights challenges. This unit emphasizes the Reading Literature strand of the NYSP12 CCLS, with a study of the novel Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan (740L).
Students also read informational texts related to the story’s historical context. They will trace the journey of Esperanza, a young girl born into a comfortable life of privilege in Mexico in the 1930s who is forced to flee to California and must rise above her difficult circumstances. This unit is designed to deliberately build students’ ability to write routinely to learn. Almost daily, they will write short informational pieces in their reading journals, in which they record their interpretations of concrete details and quotations from the book. They will analyze characters’ responses to challenges and will analyze how Esperanza changes over time.
For the mid-unit assessment, students will independently read and analyze a new chapter in the novel, focusing on the challenges Esperanza faces, how she responds, and what that tells readers about her as a character. In the second half of the unit, students compare and contrast Esperanza to other characters in the novel, focusing specifically on how various characters respond to the challenges in their work camp and whether or not the migrant workers should strike. Students will create a two-voice poem contrasting the ways two different characters respond to a similar challenge.
They will then write a formal essay in which they analyze how Esperanza changes throughout the novel.
Note: This unit presumes that the teacher has carefully read Eperanza Rising in advance. This novel is at a 740 Lexile measure. However, it is quite complex on other qualitative measures of text complexity. See the Literary Text Qualitative Rubric (on EngageNY.org) for more on how to analyze text complexity.