A. Rereading the Text and Answering Text-Dependent Questions: "Papaya Tree" (12 minutes)
Note: remember that the symbolic significance of the papaya tree will be addressed in future lessons. Do not rush it here, but of course, follow students' leads should their comments indicate they are ready to address symbolism.
- Ask students to sit in their small heterogeneous "numbered heads" groups.
- Display and remind students of the Things Close Readers Do anchor chart. Invite several students to read what is on the chart, and ask for a Fist to Five to check for understanding before moving on to the rereading.
- Ask students to silently reread "Papaya Tree" on pages 8 and 9. Remind them that they are reading for the gist of the poem: what is their early sense of what it is mostly about? Remind them that gist is not as formal as summarizing; it's preliminary.
- After they have read and thought, invite students to turn and talk with a partner in their group to share their thinking. Listen for students to notice that Ha has a papaya tree growing in her backyard. Her brothers have noticed the tree's blossoms and fruit. Ha wants to be the first one to notice the papaya's ripe fruit.
- Remind them that rereading helps readers notice important details. Then reread the poem aloud, as students look at the text and read silently in their heads.
- Invite students to share in their groups,
* "What new or important details struck you after hearing the poem read aloud again?"
- Encourage students to return to the text, and listen for students to notice details such as the seed is like a fish eye ("slippery/shiny/black"), or details about the size and color of the tree ("twice as tall as I stand," "white blossom"). Point out to students that such descriptive details often help readers visualize what the writer is describing; they will be paying close attention to this type of language throughout their study of this novel, and will often reread key passages to pay particular attention to word choice.
- Show students a photograph of the papaya tree and its seeds, blossom, and fruit. Ask students, "Why might the author have chosen this particular tree to focus on?" Cold call on a few students for response. Listen for students to notice that it grows in Vietnam, it has sweet fruit Ha can enjoy, etc. (Students will return to the symbolic significance of the papaya tree in future lessons.)
- Share the "Papaya Tree" text-dependent questions with the students, revealing them one at a time.
- Remind students that as they did in the previous lesson, they will reread, think, and then talk about these questions. Rereading and talking will help them deepen their understanding of the text.
- "How did the papaya tree begin to grow? Was the planting of the tree intentional or a careless act? How do you know this?" (Listen for students to refer to page 8, stanza 1: Ha flicked it into the garden.) Once students have answered, ask, "Why did the author choose the word flicked versus 'planted'? How do these words differ in meaning and tone?"
- Give students time to reread, think, and talk in their small groups.
- Then use the Numbered Heads Together strategy for whole group sharing out of the answers.
- Repeat this process with the following questions:
2. "From youngest to oldest, Ha describes what each brother sees on the tree. What is the pattern she describes?" (Students will notice pages 8 and 9, stanzas 4-6, that first the blossom is spotted by the
youngest, then the small fruit by the middle brother, and the ripened fruit is something Ha hopes to see before her oldest brother.)
3. "Ha vows to be the first to witness, or observe, the ripening of the papaya fruit. What does the word vows mean in this context? Where else did we read that Ha wanted to be the first at something instead of her oldest brother?" (Students may recognize vows from "church vows." Help them notice that in this context, it means "pledge" or "promise." But to help students begin to attend to nuances in word meaning, point out that the word vow is stronger than "promise"--it means a particularly strong or serious promise.
- Listen for students to refer back to "1975: The Year of the Cat": Ha wanted to be the first one to touch the floor. Remind students that one "thing close readers do" is return to the text. Model rereading: Have students turn to pages 2 and 3, the last two stanzas of this poem, and notice that she was the first to touch the floor on Tet. Then refer them to page 2, the third stanza: her mother wanted the oldest son to "rise first to bless our house" and bring good luck to the family on Tet.
4. "What can you infer or conclude about Ha's character based on these two poems or critical incidents?" (Students may respond that Ha is competitive, jealous, a fighter, etc. Support students with this inference by guiding them with questions and prompts that encourage them to use what they know together with the clues in the text to draw conclusions about Ha.)