A “New Kids” curriculum
The following reading comprehension and writing prompts are courtesy of Megan Andersen, an inspired ESL teacher of juniors and seniors at Rangeview High School in Aurora, Colorado. Note: The page numbers below correspond to the hardcover, not the paperback.
Reading Comprehension and Writing Prompts for
The New Kids by Brooke Hauser
“Chit Su’s First Day”
Writing Prompt: Describe a person who has played or currently plays the role of “The Fixer” in your life. Support your description with examples and details.
“Frequently Asked Questions”
Writing Prompt: How would you describe your group that you hang with at Rangeview High School? What makes you a group? How do other students see you? How do you see yourselves? Why do you choose to be associated with this group of students?
“Twenty-Four Hours in a Suitcase”
Writing Prompt: In a well written one-page response, please answer this prompt. Ann believes that as a teacher “she has a couple of options: either she can know more about a student’s life outside of school, and expect less, or she can know less and expect more.” Which way do you think your teachers should think about you? Justify your answer with support.
“Dinner with Jessica”
Short Constructed Responses:
1. The author describes Chinatown where nobody notices Jessica, but she sees everything, including an old man who “squats on the sidewalk, repairing old shoes…salvaging what he can from a pile of discarded pumps, sandals, and scraps of rubber.” The author then states: “China might be thousands of miles away, but to Jessica, it lives right here in this man: Nothing is wasted. Everything is valued. Almost everything” (p. 61).
What is the author implying that is not valued? Please support your opinion with supporting details. (Hint, this is a question that will require you to make inferences from what is discussed in the next two pages.)
2. On page 66, Jessica’s room is described. Then the author states “In one room, Jessica has everything she needs. And nothing. It is a shelter, not a home. […] Home is something that other kids have.” What does the author mean by this statement? Support your opinion.
3. Jessica feels that “her father has failed her. But Mr. Tan feels that he did what he could to honor what little remained of their plan—without breaking up his new family” (p. 67). Based on the details of Jessica’s situation, explain whether you believe that Mr. Tan has provided well for his daughter.
4. On page 56 we read Jessica’s immigration story, which leads with the first words Jessica heard from her step-mother upon arriving in America. “Get out of here! You do not belong to this family!” Is Jessica’s stepmother justified in her treatment of Jessica? Support your response with details from the chapter.
Summative Writing Assessment: In a well written, multi-paragraph response, please address the prompt below. Your writing should be free of any grammar, spelling, punctuation, or capitalization errors.
Prompt: Using examples from the book, discuss how the students (including yourself, if applicable) are often caught between two cultures—tied to their traditional customs and beliefs, yet trying to acclimatize to American society. How does Yasmeen’s situation illustrate this conflict?
“The Life and Times of Mohamed Bah” through “A House on the Moon”
Essential Question: Is Mohamed a master manipulator or Fortune’s favorite?
Questions to Guide your Reading and Note taking
1. What are Mohamed’s goals?
2. How does Mohamed put himself into situations that help him?
3. How do others help Mohamed?
4. What clues does the author leave to help us decide Mohamed’s motives in how he treats people?
Comprehension Assessment: Create a timeline of the events in Mohamed’s life from when he lived with his family in Sierra Leone to when Cindy adopts him.
Criteria: Show significant events in Mohamed’s life. Show sufficient events to demonstrate a proficient understanding of the text. Events must be in the proper sequential order.
Analysis Assessment: Create a presentation in which you answer the essential question by identifying four of Mohamed’s character traits which support your interpretation.
“Make-up and Head Scarves”
Writing Prompt: Use examples from pgs 226 – 227 to contrast the difference between how the women dress in public and how they dress in the privacy of the all women party.
“Soup or Salad”
Class Debate: Is the United States a country that is inclusive of all cultures like a melting pot, or is it more isolating of immigrant cultures like a tossed salad? Give examples to support your argument.
“Dress Rehearsals,” “Party in the U.S.A.” and “This Strange Thing Called Prom” (article in The New York Times)
Writing Prompt: Compare the experiences of the students’ prom at the International School at Prospect Heights to that of a typical American high school. In which ways are they similar and how are they different?
Book Review: Write a review of The New Kids. In your review you must (1) describe the author’s writing (2) give your opinion of the reading experience (3) comment on the content of the book and (4) connect the book to context in which you related to the book.