Case Study: Survival in Southern Sudan | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M1:U2

Case Study: Survival in Southern Sudan

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In this second unit, students are introduced to the concept of theme in a novel. As they complete A Long Walk to Water, students will continue to collect textual evidence to answer the question "How do individuals survive in challenging environments?" In addition, students will be reading informational texts that provide more information about the context of the novel. Close reading of the selected informational text and novel will prepare students for the mid-unit assessment and the two-part end of unit assessment.

For the mid-unit assessment, students will analyze how the author of A Long Walk to Water both used and elaborated on historical facts. Part 1 of the end of unit assessment (which takes place over two lessons) is the first draft of a literary analysis essay requiring textual support to discuss the topic of survival in Southern Sudan during and after the second civil war in the 1980s. Part 2 of the end of unit assessment is the final draft of the student essay.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • 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 authors develop and contrast their points of view?
  • Individual survival in challenging environments requires both physical and emotional resources.
  • Authors of fiction both draw on and elaborate on historical facts to convey their ideas about what it was like to be alive during that time. 

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 key ideas 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 (p. 6-7)

  • Theme 1: Individual Development and Cultural Identity: The role of social, political, and cultural interactions in 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 (p. 58)


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

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


Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions


  • Invite recent refugees to the United States who could speak about the experience of coming to a new country. This is an opportunity for students to better understand Salva's experiences in coming to Rochester, NY. 
  • Invite a guest speaker from an organization that works with African countries, particularly with water issues. 
  • Invite a guest speaker from a well-digging company who could speak to the process of digging a new well.


  • Arrange for a visit to a local center for helping refugees acclimate to the United States.
  • If there is a local museum that has exhibits on sub-Saharan Africa, that could offer expanded opportunities for learning about Salva's part of the continent.


Salva Dut's organization, Water for South Sudan, is based in Rochester, NY. The website for the organization is, and the website itself is very student-friendly. Students could find ways to contribute to the work of this organization.


  • A study of water issues in the local community or state of New York. There are numerous issues with water related to the growing industry of natural gas extraction by "fracking."
  • A study of the United Nations' efforts to help orphaned children in Africa.
  • An update study of what is going on in Southern Sudan in 2013.

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