Building Background Knowledge: The Dinka and Nuer Tribes after 1991 (“Sudanese Tribes Confront Modern War” Excerpt 2) | EL Education Curriculum

You are here

ELA 2012 G7:M1:U1:L12

Building Background Knowledge: The Dinka and Nuer Tribes after 1991 (“Sudanese Tribes Confront Modern War” Excerpt 2)

You are here:

Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can recognize, interpret, and make connections in narratives, poetry, and drama, ethically and artistically to other texts, ideas, cultural perspectives, eras, personal events, and situations. (RL.7.11)
  • I can determine the central ideas of an informational text. (RI.7.2)
  • I can use a variety of strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words or phrases. (L.7.4)
  • I can cite several pieces of text-based evidence to support an analysis of informational text. (RI.7.1)

Supporting Targets

  • I can make connections from the text "Sudanese Tribes Confront Modern War" to the novelA Long Walk to Water.
  • I can use context clues to determine word meanings. 
  • I can cite several pieces of text-based evidence to support an analysis of excerpts from the article "Sudanese Tribes Confront Modern War."

Ongoing Assessment

  • Text annotations for gist
  • Gathering Evidence graphic organizer (focus on Perspectives)


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

A. Introducing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2.  Work Time 

A. Sharing Text Annotations for Gist from Excerpt 2 of "Sudanese Tribes Confront Modern War" (15 minutes) 

B. Gathering Evidence from the Text: Excerpt 2 (15 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment 

A. Revisit Learning Targets and Preview of Process: Selecting Evidence for Writing (10 minutes)

4.  Homework 

A. Continue reading your independent reading book for this unit at home.

  • This lesson follows the basic pattern of Lessons 10 and 11, with Excerpt 2 of the same article. 
  • Part A of Work Time includes a basic checking for understanding of the "gist" of Excerpt 2. But do not give too much away; students continue to reread during Part B of Work Time, and will gradually uncover more of the meaning in this complex text. 
  • Additionally, this lesson provides support for students' developing the practice of using evidence in writing by providing a selection of evidence. This instruction builds off of the activity in Lesson 9 in which students selected ideas that could be used in writing. Here in Lesson 12, students must select evidence to use in writing and begin a draft response. In Lesson 13, students will practice using evidence in a full response to a constructed response question, and Lesson 14 will ask students to complete this writing task as part of an End of Unit Assessment. Unit 2 includes more heavily scaffolded writing instruction and a formal writing assessment. 


cite, text-based evidence, summarize, analysis, perspectives, detail/evidence, inference/reasoning, select; fault line, topple, coup, spiritual pollution, guerrillas (2), roughshod, dysfunction, assault (3)


  • "Sudanese Tribes Confront Modern War" (from Lesson 10; one per student; focus on excerpt 2)
  • Gathering Evidence--Perspectives and the Nuer (for excerpt 2) (one per student and one to display)
  • Selecting Evidence--Perspectives of the Dinka and the Nuer graphic organizer (one per student)
  • Document camera



A. Introducing Learning Targets (10 minutes) 

  • Share learning targets aloud. Students should recognize these targets from previous lessons. Ask students to briefly turn and talk with a partner about what they think they will be working on today based on these targets. 
  • Focus students on the last target: "I can cite several pieces of text-based evidence to support an analysis of excerpts from the article 'Sudanese Tribes Confront Modern War.'" Tell students that they have been working on citing evidence throughout the unit. Here, this step of citing evidence will support their work in Lessons 13 and 14, in which they will select evidence to help with their writing.
  • Keep students with partner pairs from Lesson 10 ("A-Day" seating--see Teaching Notes in Lesson 1). Remind students that they'll practice our Partner Talk Expectations with these partners so that they can share ideas with different classmates.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Read-aloud of Excerpt 1 of "Sudanese Tribes Confront Modern War": Vocabulary to Support 
 Understanding (10 minutes)

  • Tell students that to begin class you would like them to share their homework from "Sudanese Tribes Confront Modern War" (excerpt 2).  Ask students to take out their copy of the article marked with text annotations from their Lesson 11 homework. 
  • Remind students that last night they were able to "Think" about the gist of Excerpt 2 of the article and that they've written these notes on the margins of the article. Ask students to turn to a partner to read to each other what each one of them wrote for text annotations (Think-Pair...). Tell them to listen carefully to what their partner shares, because you will be calling on them to share their partner's thoughts with the class.
  • Remind students that now they'll share their ideas so that they can help each other make sense of the text. Cold call three students to share what their partner wrote for text annotations, then prompt all students to add to their text any new ideas about what Excerpt 2 was about. 
  • Clarify any lingering confusions about Excerpt 2, to ensure all students understand the gist. Refer to the text, but don't give too much away. 

* The larger Sudanese Civil War was also continuing. (paragraph 4: "Until 1991, the guns were mostly used against northerners.")

* In 1991, the rebel army started fighting among themselves, with the Dinka tribe fighting against the Nuer tribe. (paragraph 4: "There was a split in the rebel army.")

* The fighting between the Dinka and the Nuer was much more violent than ever before because the two tribes were now using military guns against each other. (paragraph 4: "Southerners started killing each other.")

  • Focus students on question E (in the box alongside paragraph 4). 

* "In paragraph 4, how does the second sentence help you understand the phrase 'the fault line was tribal"?

  • Invite students to Think-Pair-Share. Listen for students to recognize that the phrase "there was a split in the rebel army" gave a hint that there was some kind of division. And they know that a line is something that divides. So fault line means separation. If needed, model this thinking for students. Clarify that in this context, the word fault means a crack, like when an earthquake makes a crack in the earth's crust. 
  • Repeat with question F. 

* "What could the elders do?"

  • Listen for students to refer to the verb in the previous sentence, "remember." The elders could remember something that the young people could not--specifically what it was like long ago, when the two tribes were not shooting each other. Model as needed. 
  • Remind students that their annotations are about the "gist"--the general sense of what a chunk of text is mostly about. Tell them that just as they did with Excerpt 1, now that they have spent more time rereading and thinking about Excerpt 2, they will more formally summarize this section: 

* "What is the main idea of these paragraphs?"

  • Guide students through this thinking, as you model writing the summary on the top of Excerpt 2: "In 1991 the rebel army split, and the Dinka and Nuer started killing each other with guns. They didn't believe that killing each other with guns as a part of a government war was as bad as killing each other with spears like they did before."
  • Ask students to copy this summary onto their own article. Reiterate that particularly when reading very challenging text, annotating for gist is a good step on the way to forming a clear summary of the main idea. 
  • When ELL students are asked to produce language, consider providing a sentence frame, sentence starter, or a cloze sentence to assist with language production and the structure required. For example, "When I read the phrase, 'But that August, there was a split in the rebel army,' that made me think that 'the fault line was tribal' means_____________."
  • To model summarizing more explicitly, consider adding a think-aloud as you record your summary. This will allow students to see the process you used to summarize this excerpt of the text. 

B. Rereading for Gist: Excerpt 1 (20 minutes) 

  • Distribute the Gathering Evidence graphic organizer for Excerpt 2. Prompt students to read in their heads as you reread Excerpt 2 aloud. 
  • Then ask students to focus on the pre-selected evidence from Excerpt 2 for them to analyze. 
  • Ask students to work with a partner to analyze each piece of evidence. Circulate to listen in and support students as they work, to gauge students' progress toward being able to analyze text-based evidence.
  • Cold call three students to share what their partner wrote for evidence and reasoning from the text.
  • Check for understanding of Excerpt 2 by asking students to respond in writing to one key text-dependent question:

* "In 1991, when the war 'entered a new phase' and the Dinka and Nuer started fighting each other, what was different in how they fought? What is the quote from the article that gives you this information?"

  • Collect all students' written responses (to act as an informal individual assessment), then ask for the answer verbally (to check and reinforce the correct information for the class).
  • Listen to be sure that students understand that "Children, women and the elderly used to be off-limits during raids..." and that the use of guns made "Arguments once settled by fighting with being decided with assault weapons."
  • Point out that in the novel A Long Walk to Water, Salva's point of view in Chapters 1-5 actually takes place before this period of time. Ask, 

* "How does this article help us understand Salva's point of view?" 

  • Invite students to turn and talk, then share out. Be sure students understand that tension between the Dinka and Nuer is growing during Salva's journey, and that this tension will result in fighting between the Dinka and Nuer by 1991. 
  • Reinforce students who refer to examples from the novel to support their opinion, encouraging them to cite specific examples when possible.
  • Ask students to return to and revise the brief summary notes they wrote earlier about Excerpt 2. 
  •  To further support students who are struggling to gather and analyze evidence in this complex text, consider pulling a small group for more guided instruction during the first half of the partner work time during this portion of the lesson.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Revisit Learning Targets and Preview of Process: Selecting Evidence for Writing (10 minutes)

  • Reread the learning targets. 
  • Again focus students on the last target. Encourage students by noticing that they have learned a great deal about the Dinka and Nuer tribes. Tell them that they'll use a process for selecting evidence from our readings to support our writing about the experiences of the people of South Sudan.
  • Distribute the Selecting Evidence - Perspectives of the Dinka and the Nuer graphic organizer that corresponds to the article "Sudanese Tribes Confront Modern War."
  • Ask students to silently read through the example at the top half of the page, then turn to a partner and tell the partner one step that is included in the process of selecting evidence. 
  • Ask for a student volunteer to describe the process of selecting evidence without looking at the directions. Then ask another student to restate the process. 
  • Tell students that you'll start this process in Lesson 13. Prompt all students to put away their materials in a designated safe location. 
  • For students who struggle with following multiple-step directions, consider having them highlight the explicit steps in this graphic organizer once they have been discussed and identified by the class.


  • Continue reading your independent reading book for this unit at home.

Get updates about our new K-5 curriculum as new materials and tools debut.

Sign Up