Build Background Knowledge: Analyze Points of View toward American Indian Boarding Schools | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2019 G6:M3:U1

Build Background Knowledge: Analyze Points of View toward American Indian Boarding Schools

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Students begin their deep dive into the topic of American Indian boarding schools by examining artifacts that they will encounter in the module in order to infer the topic. Students are then introduced to the anchor text, Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac, reading a few excerpts from the early chapters to draw inferences about the text's key characters. Before diving deeper into the anchor text, students examine supplementary texts carefully selected to develop understanding of the topic's historical context. A speech by Captain Pratt, the founder of Carlisle Indian boarding school, and the first-person account of this school by Zitkala-Sa, a member of the Yankton tribe, allows students to examine and reflect on multiple perspectives. Students also use these texts to practice explaining how an author's point of view is conveyed and what impact connotative and figurative language has on meaning. Finally, students paraphrase the key ideas and demonstrate understanding of the perspective being conveyed in the Meriam Report, commissioned by the US government to uncover the terrible conditions of the boarding schools. Students then examine photographs of the scenarios described in the report and practice integrating the information from the excerpts with information from the photos to develop a more cohesive understanding of the topic as a whole. For the Mid-Unit 1 Assessment, students examine a different section of the same narrative from Zitkala-Sa, and answer selected response questions about vocabulary and figurative language in the text and about Zitkala-Sa's point of view and how it is conveyed in the text. Students also answer a constructed response question asking them to integrate ideas from the text with their interpretations of two related photographs.

In the second half of Unit 1, students return to the anchor text at chapter 9. In-class tasks, including two Language Dives using sentences from the anchor text, invite students to examine the way that the author develops Cal's point of view and advances the plot, as well as explore a key character's code-switching among language varieties. These tasks support the development of skills that students independently apply in the End of Unit 1 Assessment. The assessment requires students to read the beginning of chapter 18 of Two Roads and answer selected response and short constructed response questions to analyze the structure of the text, interpret the use of intensive pronouns, examine how Bruchac develops Cal's point of view, and describe the impact of using language varieties on the development of characters within the text.

Please note: For the 6-8 Language Arts Curriculum, there are Teaching Notes for each unit that contain helpful information for supporting English language learners. These overview notes complement the more specific English language learner supports and differentiated materials within each lesson. You will find the Teaching Notes in the Unit download below.

CCS Standards

The Four Ts

  • Topic: American Indian boarding schools
  • Task: 
    • Read a supplemental text and answer selected response questions about vocabulary in context, as well as the author's point of view and how it is conveyed in the text. Answer a short constructed response question to integrate their interpretations of two photos related to the ideas of the text (mid-unit assessment).
    • Read a new chapter of Two Roads and answer selected response and short constructed response questions about use of intensive pronouns, the impact of dialect in the text, and how Cal's point of view is developed by the author.
  • Targets: RL.6.1, RL.6.3, RL.6.5, RL.6.6, RL.6.10, RI.6.1, RI.6.2, RI.6.4, RI.6.6, RI.6.7, RI.6.10, L.6.1b, L.6.1e, L.6.5a, L.6.5c
  • Texts: Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac, "The Cutting of My Long Hair" in American Indian Stories by Zitkala-Sa, The Problem of Indian Administration: Report of a Survey made at the Request of Honorable Hubert Work, Secretary of the Interior, and Submitted to Him by Lewis Meriam, "The Advantage of Mingling Indians with Whites" by Captain Richard H. Pratt


Each unit in the 6-8 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize students' understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Habits of Character/Social-Emotional Learning Focus

Central to the EL Education curriculum is a focus on "habits of character" and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this unit, students work to become effective learners by taking initiative during collaborative activities that include minimal instruction, such as in-class reading using a Jigsaw protocol. Jigsaw readings also support students' sense of responsibility, as they become "experts" on shorter excerpts of text and relay critical information to classmates. A sense of responsibility also underlies students' careful and independent prereading of anchor text chapters prior to deeper in-class analysis.

Students work to become ethical people by demonstrating empathy toward the students who faced abuses while attending American Indian boarding schools. Through discussions with classmates, in which students analyze the way that authors develop and demonstrate their own point of view or the point of view of key characters, students practice empathizing with the attitudes, values, and worldviews of others. The sensitive topics that arise from the anchor text or other supplemental texts, as well as students' varying reactions or connections to the text, facilitates opportunities for students to demonstrate compassion to both their classmates and to key figures within texts. Students demonstrate respect through classroom activities centered around texts describing challenging experiences of survivors of American Indian boarding schools. They also explore characters' use of non-standard language varieties in Two Roads through tasks aimed at uplifting all language varieties and guiding students to respect language differences as audience- and purpose-driven (rather than merely "correct" or "incorrect"). Goal 4 Conversation Cues, aimed at helping students think with others to expand the conversation, further invite students to respect, reiterate, and build upon their classmates' contributions to classroom discussion.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 10-18 lessons. The Unit-at-a-Glance charts, available on the grade-level landing pages, break down each unit's lessons, showing CCS standards, agenda breakdown, daily learning targets, and ongoing assessments. The charts also indicate which lessons include mid- and end of unit assessments and the performance task.

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts and resources that need to be procured. Please download the Required Trade Books and Resources Procurement List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
Two Roads
by Joseph Bruchac
one per student
ISBN: 9780735228870

Preparation and Materials

Prepare the Module Guiding Questions anchor chart and Performance Task anchor chart (see Module Overview).

Prepare new vocabulary logs and independent reading journals for Module 3.

Ensure that families are aware of any sensitive content in Two Roads, and prepare students who may be affected by this content in advance.


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