Analyzing Point of View in A Long Walk to Water | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M1:U3:L1

Analyzing Point of View in A Long Walk to Water

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of characters and narrators in a literary text. (RL.7.6)

Supporting Targets

  • I can explain how Park compares and contrasts Nya and Salva to convey ideas about how people survive in Sudan.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Students' final drafts of their End of Unit 2 Assessment (A Long Walk to Water essay)
  • Exit ticket


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

A. Entry Task: Reviewing Juxtaposition (10 minutes) 

2.  Work Time 

A. Juxtaposition: Modeling and Guided Practice (15 minutes)

B. Juxtaposition: Partner Practice and Debrief (15 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

A. Turn and Talk (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

A. Continue with independent reading.

  • Unit 3 is quite short. In terms of purpose and focus, in effect it began during the last few lessons of Unit 2. 
  • Here in Lesson 1, students return to the idea of juxtaposition (introduced in Unit 2, Lesson 4 and then discussed in Lesson 8). Students consider how comparing and contrasting Salva's and Nya's experiences allows Park to show what factors enabled survival in Sudan. Students' brainstorming of a list of ways the characters are juxtaposed will feel familiar from Unit 2, Lesson 4; the discussion of Salva's traits as a leader refer back to the conversations students had in the World Cafe protocol in Unit 2, Lesson 8. 
  • This lesson gives students a chance to solidify this thinking before it is formally assessed in the mid-unit assessment in Lesson 2. This mid-unit assessment functions as a bridge between the thinking students have been doing as they read the novel and the thinking they will do as they write their poems. In a sense, A Long Walk to Water is serving as a mentor text. By analyzing the ways in which Park uses several points of view to develop her theme, students prepare to make their own choices as authors about how they will use the two voices in their poems to convey a particular message.
  • Before teaching this lesson, review the Unit 3 mid-unit assessment. In your conversation with students, try to avoid specific discussion of this example of juxtaposition (from Chapters 17 and 18): Salva's step-by-step work to start his organization juxtaposed with Nya's village's step-by-step change because of the well. Students need practice with the thinking but should not have a conversation about specific passages they will work with independently during the assessment. 
  • This lesson includes time for students to practice this skill individually and in pairs; use your judgment to set the pace of this work and to determine when to have students work in pairs and when to work with the whole group. Circulating during the entry task should provide a good sense of where students are; this will inform your choices about how to structure students' work with the Juxtaposition Practice handout.
  • The debrief and share at the end of Work Time in this lesson is critical because it gives students an opportunity to receive feedback on their work before their assessment in Lesson 2. At the end of Work Time, collect the Juxtaposition Practice handouts and provide brief written feedback to make sure students are on track for the mid-unit assessment.
  • Homework assignments are less frequent in this unit, as students are primarily working to write their two-voice poems. 
  • Review the homework in Unit 3 and determine whether your students will be able to complete independent reading in addition to what is already outlined. If appropriate, encourage students to complete their independent reading assignment and the Reader's Response Letter (see module overview) for homework.  
  • In advance: Add a sheet or a space to the Salva/Nya chart for a third column.
  • Post: Entry task, Salva/Nya anchor chart.


juxtapose, compare, contrast


  • Entry Task: Reviewing Juxtaposition (one per student)
  • Juxtaposition Practice handout (one per student)
  • A Long Walk to Water (book; one per student)
  • Salva/Nya anchor chart, with a third column added (begun in Unit 2, Lesson 2)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Entry Task: Reviewing Juxtaposition (10 minutes) 

  • Distribute Entry Task: Reviewing Juxtaposition to all students as they enter and ask them to complete their task individually. Assure them that this entry task is just to get them thinking about today's lesson and to let you know what they already understand. 
  • After students have worked individually for 5 minutes, call the class together and debrief the entry task. Students should correct their work as necessary. 
  • Point students to the learning target for today and help them notice that this is a day when they are talking about author's craft: the choices an author makes about how to write. They will be focusing on how and why Park juxtaposes Salva and Nya. Remind them that they have analyzed this before; this lesson is a chance to solidify and extend their thinking before the Mid-Unit 3 Assessment in Lesson 2.
  • Ask students to Think-Pair-Share: 

* "How does having both characters' stories so close to each other help Park convey the message that even after years of difficulty, life can improve?" 

* "How is this message stronger because it is shown in both stories, rather than just in one?"

  • Listen for students to explain that two stories help to show a pattern and that having the same message presented twice gives readers two ways to understand how a character might have felt. Give positive feedback for strong thinking about author craft and help students notice how they are stepping back from thinking about what happened in the story to thinking about how the author constructed the story and why she constructed it that way. 
  • Collect students' final essays (their End of Unit 2 Assessments). 
  • Discussing and clarifying the language of learning targets helps build academic vocabulary.
  • Use of protocols (like Back-to-Back and Face-to-Face) allows for total participation of students. It encourages critical thinking, collaboration, and social construction of knowledge. It also helps students practice their speaking and listening skills.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Juxtaposition: Modeling and Guided Practice (15 minutes)

  • Tell students that today they will practice analyzing how Park's decision to juxtapose these characters helps readers compare and contrast them and also conveys her messages more strongly. Before they return to more specific analysis, they will create a list of similarities and differences they noticed between Salva and Nya. This will both guide their reading of specific passages and help them as they write their two-voice poem.
  • Ask: 

* "What are two ways in which Salva and Nya are juxtaposed? (You may want to remind them of the image from Lesson 4 that you used to introduce juxtaposition.)

  • Ask students to raise their hands when they have an answer. After most students have their hands up, call on several to share their thinking. Capture this thinking in a list on the board. Listen for: both voices in each chapter, in the same place, overlapping times.
  • Remind students that often an author juxtaposes characters or situations because she wants the reader to compare them. Today, students will notice some comparisons of and contrasts between Nya and Salva that the author highlights through how she juxtaposes them. 
  • Model this with the Salva/Nya anchor chart. For example, focus students on the class notes related to Chapters 7 and 8. In these chapters, Park is showing how Salva and Nya are similar: Family helps them both survive. Salva's uncle is his guide and protector; Nya's family takes Akeer to the clinic and stays with her as she recovers. 
  • Point out the new column on the Salva/Nya chart: Comparing and Contrasting Salva and Nya. Add this idea to the chart for Chapter 7/8. Write: "Same: Family helps them both survive."
  • Next, ask students to repeat this task with their seat partner for Chapters 9-11. They should keep a list of ideas in their notebooks. As they share out, add their ideas to the chart. Listen for: same--importance of water (lack of clean water can kill you), persistence; different--Salva is all alone and Nya is with her family, Nya is Nuer but Nuer kill Salva's uncle. If students do not think of ideas, guide them as needed. 
  • Finally, ask students to repeat this for the remainder of the book and add those ideas to the chart as they share.
  • Graphic organizers and recording forms engage students more actively and provide scaffolding that is especially critical for learners with lower levels of language proficiency and/or learning. 

B. Juxtaposition: Partner Practice and Debrief (15 minutes) 
Note: Expect students to need more support for Questions 4 and 5; depending on your class, it may make sense to deal with those questions as a whole group. 

  • Give specific positive praise for ways you hear students thinking about author's craft. Tell them that they are ready to dive back into analyzing one specific instance of juxtaposition. Just as they will do tomorrow, today they will take one example and notice what comparisons and contrasts the author draws. They will also consider how these comparisons help Park convey a message. 
  • Distribute the Juxtaposition Practice handout and direct students to Chapter 13 in A Long Walk to Water
  • Ask students to locate a Discussion Appointment partner to work with to answer these questions.
  • After students are settled with their partners, give them time to work while you circulate and confer. Listen for common misconceptions and ask students questions that help them analyze author craft, such as: 

* "Why do you think Park wanted to show Salva as a teenager and as an adult?" 

* "What specific words does Park repeat in the two descriptions?" 

* "Why does she do that?"

  • During the share, write correct answer(s) up on the board or screen and encourage students to revise their work if it is not correct. Identify strengths in students' analysis. Make sure to explain and address any major misconceptions you noticed as you circulated. 

The author juxtaposes Salva in two roles. Which two roles does she juxtapose? (leader of Lost Boys and     crew leader of well crew)

How does this juxtaposition help you compare Salva as a boy with Salva as an adult? What does this comparison suggest about what allowed him to survive? (Salva encourages a group to move forward one step at a time; Salva is patient but determined; persistence and not giving up are important in both circumstances.)

How does adding Nya to Salva's story help Park better show why these traits allowed Salva to survive? 

a. How does having Nya as a character make it possible for Park to compare Salva as a boy and as an adult? (Nya sees Salva in his role as crew leader; this allows another character to observe and report on these traits.)

b. To what extent do these traits also help Nya? (Nya is also persistent. She keeps getting water even though it is hard. She is not a leader in the way that Salva is, though.)

4. How does juxtaposition help you compare the characters of Salva and Nya? (It is easier to notice similarities and differences when scenes are next to each other.)

5. Why might Park use two characters to convey her messages about survival in Sudan, and not just one? 

(It allows her to weave patterns, shows how similar situations can affect characters, shows the experience of a broader range of people, gives the reader two possible chances to emotionally connect, and shows that survival can look more than one way.)

  • As students leave, ask them to turn their papers in so you can add any additional feedback to ensure their success on the Mid-Unit 3 Assessment.
  • Many students benefit from seeing questions and correct answers posted on an interactive white board or via a document camera. It will help them to see how they should be answering questions.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Turn and Talk (5 minutes) 

  • Ask students to talk with a partner based on this prompt:

* "The assessment tomorrow will be similar to the entry task and the handout for Work Time. How confident do   you feel about the assessment tomorrow? What do you need to remember from our work today in order to do well tomorrow?"

  • Developing self-assessment and reflection supports all learners.


  • Continue with independent reading.

Note: Review students' Juxtaposition Practice handout, focusing on comments for students who are struggling (students who are on track just need to know that).

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