What are human rights, and how do real people and fictional characters respond when those rights are threatened? In this module, students develop their ability to read and understand complex text as they consider this question. In Unit 1, students build their close reading skills by reading the novel Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. They read about human rights and apply this learning as one lens through which to interpret the characters and themes in the novel—a complex coming-of-age story set in Mexico and rural California during the early 1930s. Through close reading, interpretation, and analysis of fiction and nonfiction texts, students begin to build their understanding of human rights. Throughout the unit, students closely read selected articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) related to events in Esperanza Rising where human rights are threatened.
In Unit 2, students finish reading Esperanza Rising, focusing on characters’ reactions and responses to events when their human rights are threatened. They write a two-voice poem with a partner, as well as a four-paragraph literary essay comparing the response of two characters to a selected event from the novel, describing how each character responds to the event. In Unit 3, students continue to revisit the themes of the UDHR and Esperanza Rising as they plan, write, and ultimately perform monologues based on events from Esperanza Rising where human rights are threatened. In groups, students write a Directors’ Note to describe their selected event from Esperanza Rising, explain which specific articles of the UDHR relate to the event, and explain how people today are impacted by this issue. Students revise, rehearse, and ultimately perform their group’s monologues for the class and/or school or community members. This performance task addresses CCSS ELA RF.5.4, W.5.4, W.5.5, and W.5.8.