Extending Instructional Opportunities for Deeper Self-Awareness Exploration

Teaching READ 180 allows educators to be creative. The following lesson can be applied to Universal Stage C ReaL Book Workshop #2. This paired reading helps to answer the question "What Makes Us Who We Are?" To extend opportunities for the exploration and to go further into the text within the Workshop, I wanted to share the following successful activities that can be used with an excerpt from Untwine by Edwidge Danticat. 

On the first day, of the Workshop, play a few minutes of the book recording of Untwine on the HMH recorded books site on HMH Teacher Central. Then as a class do a choral reading of a page or two of the story. Have students decide the year they think the story takes place and the location. In the Small Group rotation continue reading Untwine. Students may choose to read and listen to Untwine on the HMH site in the Independent Reading rotation.

On the second day, have students do the following activity in Whole Group. Have each student write the names of Giselle and Isabelle on a folded sheet of paper. In one column have students recall what they can about one of the characters from yesterday's readings. In the other column have them recount what they can about the other character. Remind students that they will use these notes to analyze, examine, and compare and contrast the two characters throughout the excerpt.

On the third day, give each student a copy of the following verb card. You may copy and paste the 1-6 on to a colored piece of paper for each of your students. For the next few days focus on two verbs in Whole Group and Small Group. Make questions for students or allow them to choose and make their own questions. Students will like to take ownership of their own questions to use during discussions.

Examples: Imagine how you would feel if you were Giselle and the surviving twin. Compare and contrast the twins personalities. 

1. Creating-To Improve=adapt, imagine, change, invent, suppose, propose
2. Evaluating-To Judge=defend, decide, agree, justify, conclude, importance 
3. Analyzing-To Examine=compare, contrast, motive, distinguish, categorize
4. Applying-To Use=plan, organize, build, develop, experiment
5. Understanding-To Explain=summarize, describe, infer, clarify, rephrase

6. Remembering-To Recall=define, list, recognize, recount, tell, label

The following sample Do NOWS can be used at the beginning of class and in the Small Group rotation for the remainder of the readings.  It's imperative we follow the READ 180 structure for our students even with a paired reading so we continue to start each period with a DO NOW. The following questions and sentence starters highlight the days reading of the excerpt. Write DO NOWS intriguing so students look forward to the reading. One of the goals is to inspire the students to check our and read the whole book!

1. DO NOW: Workshop #2 focus question is "What makes us who we are?" This selection examines the role of family relationships and family tragedy in shaping the narrator's identity.

What do you know about being a twin?

I know ____________ about being a twin. For example twins...

2. A novel is a work of fiction. The length allows for a deeper development of characters and plot than a short story. What do you like about this fiction story? 

I really like this fiction story because...

3. DO NOW: What do you think Giselle is feeling as she goes through her sister's room?

I think Giselle is feeling ___________ as she goes through her sister's room because...

4. DO NOW: What visual image from a book or video made a strong impression on you today?

____________ visual image from a (book/video) made a strong impression on me today because...

5. DO NOW: Describe the mood in Isabelle's room with her parents. 

The mood in Isabelle's room is _____________ because...

6. Inferencing Response Frame: 

The text says...
I know that...

So, I can infer...


The narrator says her neck feels wobbly and achy and her head is pulsating. I know she was injured in the accident that killed her sister. I can infer that trying on her sister's clothes may be aggravating her injuries. 

7. DO NOW: Why do you think the narrator, Giselle, compares her home to a "super-booby-trapped minefield all around" her and her parents? 

EXAMPLE: Giselle is saying that their home is a reminder that Isabelle is no longer alive. There are no "safe places" where the family is not reminded of Isabelle.

8. DO NOW: The word ruins means...

When the narrator says she is "surrounded by ruins," she means... 

EXAMPLE: You can infer that when Giselle says she is surrounded by ruins, she is speaking metaphorically about her family, who have been physically damaged by the car accident and emotionally damaged by Isabelle's death.

9. DO NOW: At first Giselle _____________. But by the end of the text she __________.

EXAMPLE: In the beginning, Giselle is physically and emotionally hurt. By the end, she is healing. She is drawing, and she feels well enough to go swimming. She still misses Isabelle, but she is able to picture herself as an "untwined" individual.

10. DO NOW: Giselle plans to draw Isabelle swimming instead of herself. Should Giselle sketch herself alone? Why or why not? 

I think Giselle (should/should not) sketch herself alone because...

EXAMPLE: Giselle may want to draw Isabelle because she is not ready to draw herself alone yet. For now, I think including Isabelle in her picture helps Giselle to stay connected to her memories of Isabelle. I think it's okay for her not to sketch herself alone yet. 

Providing the opportunity for extended conversations driven by matching an excerpt from an available independent reading option did prove for more self-exploration, building of a community, and more opportunities to stretch into character analysis. Not to mention, some students were inspired to read the whole book as an independent reading choice. There's nothing better than that. (Teacher note: this extension added a week to my instructional plan for Workshop 2.) Remember when structuring an extension to a Workshop it should be one week or less. We always want to stay true to the time and length of each Workshop. There is so much additional content that students are anticipating experiencing.

Stage C READ 180 Educator

Philosophy of Teaching All of my life, I have enjoyed working with children and have always desired to teach. It is my belief that no matter what socio-economic background, everyone deserves to achieve his/her educational goals. It is my ambition to facilitate this process.Growing up in the Houston area, I have always been aware of the Cypress-Fairbanks School District. The district's reputation of excellence is well known, not only in the Houston metroplex, but throughout the state of Texas. As a professional educator, it is important to be associated with a school district whose goals for its students are aligned with my philosophy of teaching.