Esperanza Rising: Lesson Plans for Teaching the Novel
written by: Pamela Rice-Linn
• edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom
• updated: 3/2/2012
If you’re a teacher, time is precious. You can never have enough of it. Fortunately for you, if you’ve decided to read Esperanza Rising with your class, your lesson plans are, for the most part, done.
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These Esperanza Rising lesson plans should assist you throughout the course of the novel. From making predictions to vocabulary activities, from analyzing character traits to identifying symbols and themes in the novel, from creating inferences to locating text evidence to prove a conclusion, these Esperanza Rising lesson plans will make lesson planning a breeze while providing you with the assurance that all your bases for teaching this novel are covered. All you have left to do is enjoy the reading experience with your students. And since we always begin with the end in mind, let’s consider some objectives for this novel.
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Students will make predictions about a text
Students will recall and understand vocabulary definitions
Students will analyze character traits and note changes
Students will check for text evidence to prove conclusions
Students will create products to demonstrate symbols and themes
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Depending on the chapter of the novel, these Esperanza Rising lesson plans activities will vary from day to day. They are meant to help the class focus on a particular skill.
Make Predictions, Draw Conclusions -- Provide one or two pictures from the Great Depression each day. Students can write a quick list of details from the picture. After, ask them to explain the situations in the pictures. What has happened? Who are the people? Why are they in this predicament? As students draw their own conclusions, make sure they use evidence from the pictures to support their statements.
Make Predictions, Draw Conclusions, and Provide Evidence -- On different days, bring in various fruits or vegetables or household items. Place one item in the box per day and ask students to guess what is in the box based on the sounds, the size of the box, or any other clues they might have. Once they have guessed the contents of the box, ask them to make a connection between the item in the box and the novel. Write down their conclusions on chart paper or the chalk board and allow students to check their guesses after they read for the day.
Vocabulary -- Use the vocabulary from the chapter and write it down on the board. Students will note the words in their vocabulary spiral in a three column organizer (one column for the word, one for their guess as to the meaning, and one for the actual definition) along with their guesses.
Character Traits and Changes -- Ask students to fill out the following statement: Today I feel _____ because _____. Take a moment to discuss responses. What has happened today to make students have this reaction? What does this question have to do with characters in the novel? Allow students to make connections from past events in the novel to their own lives. They can also make predictions for future events and character responses.
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Esperanza Rising lesson plans provide a variety of activities for student practice. Make sure to model your expectations for students.
Vocabulary -- As students read, ask them to locate the vocabulary from that chapter. When it is located, use context clues to verify the meaning, and then check for the meaning with a dictionary. Students will write the definitions in their vocabulary spirals.
Text Evidence(dialog practice) -- Provide a mini-lesson on the rules for punctuating dialog. Use sentences from the text to help demonstrate these rules.
Symbols -- Explain the definition or ask students to define ‘symbol.’ Choose four items from your classroom: a pen, a lamp, a roll of tape, a bottle of hand sanitizer. Instruct students to work with a partner to create a list of all the things these items could symbolize. Ask them to share their responses with the class.
Themes -- Explain the definition of a theme. Pick a movie everyone has seen and discuss a possible theme for that movie. Next, ask students to listen to a song as it is played and to follow along with a copy of the lyrics. At the end of the song, discuss possible themes or life lessons for that song. Ask them to provide evidence from the lyrics for their answers.
Character Traits and Changes -- Brainstorm a list of words to describe a person’s personality or actions. As students read the novel, pause periodically to ask how the characters are behaving or how they have changed. Keep a character charts or character wheels visible in class so students can note similarities, differences, and changes.
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Have students practice using their vocabulary. They may use the words to describe the novel's characters or events, demonstrate comprehension in relation to their classmates, or go for a walk as a class around your school and use the vocabulary to describe the world around them. The more often they practice, the better they will recall the vocabulary when needed.
Characterization, Text Evidence (dialog practice) -- Students will write a conversation between Esperanza and another character about a topic or an incident that was not discussed in detail in the novel.
Symbols -- Provide students with a section of the newspaper or a copy of a magazine. They will search for pictures or phrases that have symbolic meaning and note their findings on a t-chart.
Themes -- Students will listen to a second song. After, they will work with a partner to write down the themes they felt were represented in the song. They must provide evidence for their answers.
Character Traits and Changes -- Use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast two characters from the novel.
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Providing this entire list of assignments before students read the novel will pique their interest and let them know what to expect by the end of the novel.
Students will present their work to the class.
Use the character traits listed for Esperanza to write a horoscope for a day in her life.
Imagine Esperanza is now 60 years old. Design a scrapbook page for the year she turned thirteen so that her grandchildren may see what life was like for her. Make sure to incorporate photographs of characters, illustrations of themes and symbols, vocabulary words, and 2-3 relevant quotes from the novel that explain her life or her situation.
Complete a vocabulary test. Or, students can use a certain number of vocabulary words from the novel to rewrite a scene from another character’s point of view.
Write a character analysis essay. Choose two character traits and provide evidence from the novel to demonstrate your character trait choices.
Write an essay demonstrating how a character has changed from the beginning to the end of a novel. Be sure to use text evidence in your response.
After reading the novel, choose one of the symbols (a rose, a keep-sake trunk, a zig-zag pattern on a blanket, or a piñata) and demonstrate how this symbol demonstrates a theme from the novel (change, appreciation, strength in unity, or stereotypes).
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Always remember to pace your class according to their abilities. Review and re-teach as needed. These Esperanza Rising lesson plans are only suggestions, so if you try something that works for your class, please share in the comments section below.
I hope you get some use out of these ideas. The great news is you can modify these Esperanza Rising lesson plans to work with pretty much any novel you read. Enjoy your free time!
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Muñoz-Ryan, Pam. Esperanza Rising. New York: Scholastic, Inc. 2000.