Analyzing the Central Ideas, Part 1: “The Border” | EL Education Curriculum

You are here

ELA 2012 G7:M2B:U1:L3

Analyzing the Central Ideas, Part 1: “The Border”

You are here:

Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can cite several pieces of text-based evidence to support an analysis of informational text. (RI.7.1)
  • I can analyze the development of the central idea throughout the text. (RI.7.2)
  • I can analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text. (RI.7.3)

Supporting Targets

  • I can use quotations from "The Border" to support an analysis of the text.
  • I can trace the development of the central idea of "The Border."
  • I can analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in "The Border."

Ongoing Assessment

  • Reader's Notes: "Team Players" (from homework)
  • Text-Dependent Questions: "The Border"
  • Reader's Notes: "The Border"
  • Identity anchor chart
  • Student identity mind maps


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

     A.  Return Mind Maps/Review Homework/Unpack Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2.  Work Time

     A.  Modeling Reading Strategies with "The Border" (10 minutes)

     B.  Central Ideas of "The Border": Close Read (15 minutes)

     C.  Quote Sandwich: Back-to-Back and Face-to-Face (10 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A.  Reviewing Identity Anchor Chart and Learning Targets (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

     A.  Complete Reader's Notes: "The Border." 

  • In this lesson, students begin to explore both ethnicity and sense of agency as aspects of identity. They use this information to continue to flesh out their working definition(s) of identity on the Identity anchor chart.
  • The text of this lesson, "The Border," is a first-person narrative from the perspective of a Mexican teen who immigrates to America at 13. It is an emotional text, one in which the anger and frustration of the author will be obvious, and which may require sensitive treatment on your part. Also bear in mind that the author openly discusses Mexican racism as a Mexican herself. Consider ahead of time how this piece will be regarded by your students, particularly if they are immigrants and/or of Latino heritage themselves. The piece's strength as a text for this unit comes from the choices the author makes to transform her anger into action, and the positive results that follow. Highlight this role model behavior for students.
  • One's sense of agency, or ability to produce change or results, is especially important to consider here, as it is a key idea of the play Pygmalion, which students will read in Unit 2. Work Time B involves a close read that focuses on the central idea of agency.
  • This lesson introduces the routine of close reading a shorter excerpt from the text. In a close reading lesson, students will carefully read or reread one passage from the text. There is a Close Reading Guide (for teacher reference) to help you guide this portion of the lesson (Work Time B). Students work with the text-dependent questions during this part of the lesson.
  • In the early lessons in this unit, students are introduced to several new routines to support them in their reading. Therefore, there is more modeling than usual of how to do specific routines. Students are exposed to strategies they might use to make meaning of this text when reading for homework; they are also taught a model for quoting text (the Quote Sandwich) as a way of giving evidence from a text, which they will use as the basis for a writing assignment in Lesson 4, and which will be assessed in Lesson 5.
  • The lesson provides significant scripting as a resource for teachers. However, consider what type of modeling will best support your students and adapt the modeling to meet their needs.
  • Reader's Notes from "Team Players" are collected and assessed in this lesson. Return the Reader's Notes with feedback as soon as possible (this is planned for Lesson 5). As students continue with this routine, encourage them to use your feedback to strengthen their notes. Also use the opportunity to celebrate students' progress with taking notes and determining the meaning of words they encounter while reading. 
  • In advance:

-   While handing back students' mind maps from Lesson 1, consider handing out copies of an Internal and External identity mind map that you have filled out for yourself. This is a quick and easy way to "break the ice" with students and begin to develop a personal connection with them.

  • Review: "The Border," Reader's Notes: "The Border."


ethnicity; agency; Patwa, descent (246), excruciating, Quinceanera, oppressed, indigenous (248)


  • The Border" (one per student)
  • Suggested Modeling Read-aloud Script for "The Border" (for teacher reference)
  • Sticky notes (three or four per student)
  • Reader's Notes: "The Border" (one per student)
  • Sample Cultural Identifiers anchor chart (from Lesson 1)
  • Text-Dependent Questions: "The Border" (one per student)
  • Close Reading Guide: "The Border" (for teacher reference)
  • Quote Sandwich Guide (one per student and one to display)
  • Document camera
  • Blank loose-leaf paper (one sheet per student)
  • Identity anchor chart (begun in Lesson 1)
  • Identity anchor chart--student version (begun in Lesson 1; one per student)
  • Reader's Notes: "The Border" (answers, for teacher reference)



A. Return Mind Maps/Review Homework/Unpack Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Return students' mind maps from Lesson 1 and thank them for sharing a reflection of themselves with you. Let them know that you are glad to know them better because of the exercise. Remind students to hold on to the maps, as they will use them again in the last lesson (Lesson 10).
  • Ask students take out their homework from Lesson 2 and review it with a partner. Tell them to feel free to make changes if they feel it is necessary.
  • Clarify the definitions of socialized and exacerbated and have students make corrections to their Reader's Dictionary if needed.
  • Circulate and offer assistance. After two or three minutes, collect the homework.
  • Direct students' attention to the learning targets:

*   "I can use quotations from 'The Border' to support an analysis of the text."

*   "I can trace the development of the central idea of 'The Border.'"

*   "I can analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in 'The Border.'"

  • Ask partners to discuss with which target they feel the most comfortable and with which target they predict they will experience challenge today. Cold call two or three students for their answers. Assure them that the activities today are designed to give them lots of exposure to both the text and strategies to help them analyze and understand it.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Modeling Reading Strategies with "The Border" (10 minutes)

  • Arrange students in pairs. Tell students that in this part of the lesson, they will discuss and practice some strategies that they might use when they are reading at home. Together, the class will start the homework assignment for tonight.
  • Distribute "The Border."  Ask them to read to the end of the paragraph on the top of page 247 silently to themselves, as if they were reading for homework.
  • When most students are done, ask them to think about what strategies they used as they were reading. Ask them to raise their hands if they:

-   Reread any passages or sentences

-   Tried to figure out what a new word meant

-   Made a picture or a movie in their minds as they read

-   Asked themselves a question

-   Imagined how the author might be feeling

  • Next, tell them you are going to model for them a few things they can do to understand text at home. (Use or modify the Suggested Modeling Read-aloud Script for "The Border.")
  • After you have finished reading and thinking aloud, ask students to turn and talk with their partner:

*   "What is one thing you noticed me doing that might be helpful?"

  • Call on several students to share out. Listen for them to mention the strategies you surveyed them about a few minutes ago.
  • Next, ask students to turn and talk:

*   "What has happened so far in this text?"

*   "What did these strategies help us understand about the text?"

  • Call on several students to share out.
  • Finally, give students a few minutes to read ahead to the next few paragraphs on their own. They do not need to finish the text at this point. Encourage them to use some of the strategies that they saw you model as they read. Give each student sticky notes and tell them to put it on a place where they reread (maybe a sentence or maybe an entire paragraph). 
  • When students are finished reading, call on several to share out what part of the text they reread, and why. Encourage rereading and remind them that this is something strong readers do a lot.
  • As time permits, give students a few minutes to work with their partners to begin to fill out Reader's Notes: "The Border." Encourage them to ask their partners any questions they have about the text. Circulate to informally assess how well the students understand the text and the Reader's Notes task.

Give students specific positive feedback for ways you saw them working hard to understand this challenging text. Remind them to finish reading and completing their Reader's Notes for homework.

  • Consider pairing students with emergent literacy, such as ELLs, heterogeneously with a more proficient student; pulling a small group to explicitly model these strategies in a more intensive or supportive setting; or having the ELL teacher push into this lesson specifically. You might also consider modifying any homework text with inserted activities, worksheets, or annotated text that would assist them in putting these strategies into place for themselves. 

B. Central Ideas of "The Border": Close Read (15 minutes)

  • Set purpose: Tell students they will now read an excerpt from "The Border" closely to find evidence for how this text fits with our working definition of identity.
  • Ask them to raise their hands if they know which learning target this addresses. Wait for most of the students to raise their hands and then call on one to explain. Listen for: "I can use quotations from 'The Border' to support an analysis of the text."
  • Make sure at this point that students are clear on the definitions of ethnicity and agency. Explain that these are important aspects of identity (refer to the two terms' entries on the Sample Cultural Identifiers anchor chart) that will also come up in this text. Ethnicity is "the quality of belonging to a large group of people with shared social customs and experiences." Agency is "the ability to make decisions, and therefore create results or change."
  • Distribute Text-Dependent Questions: "The Border." Use the Close Reading Guide: "The Border" (for teacher reference) to guide students through the text-dependent questions related to the excerpt.
  • Consider reinforcing the definitions of ethnicity and agency by drawing or posting corresponding pictures on the Sample Cultural Identifiers anchor chart and/or creating PowerPoint slides. 

C. Quote Sandwich: Back-to-Back and Face-to-Face (10 minutes)

  • Distribute the Quote Sandwich Guide and display a copy using a document camera. Read the paragraph at the top aloud. Explain that this is the structure students will use to include quotes in future writing about text. It is also an important part of supporting arguments, which students will begin to do in this unit and will practice in earnest in Unit 2. Point out the three parts of the quote sandwich and the sentence stems, and review the example given in detail.
  • Point out that the example is from "The Border" and that it is supporting the idea that the author is finding agency (review what agency means).
  • Suggest that students can remember the parts of a quote sandwich easily, using three words: introduce, include, analyze.
  • Direct students to work with a partner:

*   "Look at your Reader's Notes: "The Border," Question 4. Find a piece of evidence from your notes that strongly suggests that the author is dealing with issues of agency. Use the quote sandwich to explain it."

  • Distribute the loose-leaf paper and have the partners co-write a quote sandwich as directed.
  • Circulate and offer assistance.
  • Next, remind students of the Back-to-Back and Face-to-Face protocol: They will find a partner and stand back-to-back with him or her. They will hear a prompt and have a minute to think and then on cue will turn around and share their thinking. Remind them of the sound that will be their cue to stand back-to-back and then face-to-face. Students should have their Reader's Notes: "The Border" with them as they conduct the protocol.
  • If students produce strong sandwiches, consider asking permission to display and explain their work as a model, for example, under a document camera. You could also have selected students repeat to the entire class strong work in the Back-to-Back and Face-to-Face protocol.

Closing & Assessments


A. Reviewing Identity Anchor Chart and Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Direct students' attention to the Identity anchor chart and the Identity anchor chart--student version.
  • Ask partners to discuss:

*   "What can we add to our Identity anchor chart based on the work we have done today?"

  • Record students' ideas on the chart. Listen for connections to ethnicity, agency, living between two worlds, being proud of who you are, and/or the role society plays in judging your identity.


  • Finish reading "The Border" and complete the Reader's Notes: "The Border."

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

Sign Up