In this first unit, students will build their close reading skills as they consider the crisis of war coming close to home. They begin the novel Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai, focusing on how critical incidents reveal the dynamic nature of Ha, the main character, whose Vietnamese family is deciding whether to flee during the fall of Saigon. The novel is poignantly told in diary entries in the form of short free-verse poems. Students will consider how text structure, figurative language, and specific word choice contribute to a text’s meaning as they closely read selected poems. Their study of the novel is paired with reading a rich informational article, “The Vietnam Wars,” which gives students key background knowledge about the history of war in Vietnam. Students build their skills using context clues, and also begin the routine of “QuickWrites,” receiving explicit instruction and then practicing writing strong paragraphs in which they effectively cite and analyze text.
For their Mid-Unit Assessment, students will analyze how key incidents in the novel reveal Ha’s character. In the second half of the unit, students continue to read the novel paired with informational text, as they focus in on critical incidents the character experiences leading up to the fall of Saigon. Students begin to more carefully examine how word choice and tone contribute to the meaning of both informational text and specific poems in the novel.
For their End of Unit Assessment, students write two strong paragraphs in which they analyze the word choice, tone, and meaning of two texts (an informational audio text and a poem from the novel).