Culminating Project: Voices from Southern Sudan | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M1:U3

Culminating Project: Voices from Southern Sudan

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This unit is the culmination of the study of Linda Sue Park's novel A Long Walk to Water and informational texts about Southern Sudan in Units 1 and 2. Students will be pulling textual evidence from the novel and informational texts to create a two-voice poem. The poem will feature the voices of the two main characters in the novel, Salva and Nya.

The mid- and end of unit assessments will prepare students for the Final Performance Task by having them look at the author's craft using juxtaposition to illustrate the two personalities and organize their thoughts before beginning work on their poems. In preparation for creating their poems, students will also examine models of two-voice poems. Once the poems are written, they will be shared with an audience of their classmates or others beyond their classroom. Teachers will assess the finished poems using a rubric adapted from the NYS Grade 6-8 Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric.

Resources and Links

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices
By Paul Fleischman

Finding Answers: A Poem for Two Voices
By Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Science Poetry in Two Voices: Poetry and the Nature of Science
By Wendy M. Frazier and Kristen B. Murray

I Poem for Two Voices
By Dr. Beth Frye

Read Alouds: Poems for Multiple Voices
By Kaye Lowe

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 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 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


Arrange for a local writer to visit the class and discuss the process of writing a poem or give students advice on their own work.


Arrange for students to attend a poetry reading.


Arrange for students to present their poems to an outside group such as a writer's club, a library's writer showcase meeting, other classes within the school, the district's School Board, a school PTO meeting, etc.


  • With Social Studies teachers, look for connections to studies of Africa, refugee issues, and immigration acclimation to a new country.
  • With art, drama, or music teachers, look for ways to connect African cultural arts to the understanding of these two characters' voices in the poems as well as possible uses of music and art in the presentation of the two-voice poems.

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