Journeys and Survival | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M1

Journeys and Survival

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Note for 2020-21 School Year

We recommend omitting Grade 8: Module 2A. For the 2020-21 school year, to ensure students can be fully supported by the teacher in the way the module was intended, EL Education recommends implementing three of the four modules. For more information, please view our rationale here.

In this eight-week module, students explore the experiences of people of Southern Sudan during and after the Second Sudanese Civil War. They build proficiency in using textual evidence to support ideas in their writing, both in shorter responses and in an extended essay.

In Unit 1, students begin the novel A Long Walk to Water (720L) by Linda Sue Park. Students will read closely to practice citing evidence and drawing inferences from this compelling text as they begin to analyze and contrast the points of view of the two central characters, Salva and Nya. They also will read informational text to gather evidence on the perspectives of the Dinka and Nuer tribes of Southern Sudan.

In Unit 2, students will read the remainder of the novel, focusing on the commonalities between Salva and Nya in relation to the novel's theme: how individuals survive in challenging environments. (The main characters' journeys are fraught with challenges imposed by the environment, including the lack of safe drinking water, threats posed by animals, and the constant scarcity of food. They are also challenged by political and social environments.) As in Unit 1, students will read this literature closely alongside complex informational texts (focusing on background on Sudan and factual accounts of the experiences of refugees from the Second Sudanese Civil War). Unit 2 culminates with a literary analysis essay about the theme of survival.

Unit 3 brings students back to a deep exploration of character and point of view: students will combine their research about Sudan with specific quotes from A Long Walk to Water as they craft a research-based two voice poem, comparing and contrasting the points of view of the two main characters, Salva and Nya. The two-voice poem gives students an opportunity to use both their analysis of the characters and theme in the novel and their research about the experiences of the people of Southern Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War. This task addresses ELA standards RL.7.6, RL.7.11, W.7.3a, d, W.7.4, W.7.5, W.7.8, W.7.9, L.7.1, and L.7.2.

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas

Individual survival in challenging environments requires both physical and emotional resources.

Authors of fiction both draw on and elaborate on historical facts in order to convey their ideas about what it was like to be alive during that time.

How do individuals survive in challenging environments?

How do culture, time, and place influence the development of identity?

How does reading from different texts about the same topic build our understanding?

How does juxtaposing multiple characters help an author develop and contrast their points of view?

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read literature and informational text about the Second Sudanese Civil War. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies Practices and Themes to support potential interdisciplinary connections to this compelling content. These intentional connections are described below.

Big ideas and guiding questions are informed by the New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework.

Unifying Themes (pages 6-7)

Theme 1: Individual Development and Cultural Identity: The role of social, political, and cultural interactions supports the development of identity. Personal identity is a function of an individual's culture, time, place, geography, interaction with groups, influences from institutions, and lived experiences. 

Theme 4: Geography, Humans, and the Environment: The relationship between human populations and the physical world (people, places, and environments).

Social Studies Practices, Geographic Reasoning, Grades 5-8: 

Descriptor 2: Describe the relationships between people and environments and the connections between people and places (page 58).


Each unit file includes teacher materials and student-facing materials.

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
A Long Walk to Water
by Linda Sue Park
One per student
ISBN: 978-0547577319, 0547577311


Each module is approximately 8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.

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