Why do we see evidence of myths and traditional stories in modern narratives? How and why can we modernize myths and traditional stories to be meaningful to today's audiences? In this module, students develop their ability to analyze narratives and create their own stories and to analyze informational essays and create their own as they learn about Latin American folklore.
Students begin Unit 1 by reading Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall. Theme and point of view are introduced through the text, as well as discussion norms, as students discuss their responses to the text. They also analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the reader create effects like suspense or humor. While reading Summer of the Mariposas, they closely read complex informational texts about the folklore of Mexico. In the second half of Unit 1, students analyze how incidents in the story reveal aspects of a character in order to prepare for a Socratic Seminar discussion. Theme is introduced and tracked in preparation for Unit 2.
In Unit 2, students continue to read Summer of the Mariposas. The first half of the unit focuses on theme in Summer of the Mariposas, analyzing how themes have developed over the course of the text and writing summaries. In the second half of the unit, students write a new scene for Summer of the Mariposas in which they modernize a different Latin American folklore “monster” as a replacement for one of the other monsters chosen by McCall. In order to do this, students research a monster from Latin American folklore to choose.
In the first half of Unit 3, students read the informational author’s note for Summer of the Mariposas as well as a model essay to determine central idea and write a summary. In the second half of the unit, students write a literary analysis essay using the Painted Essay® structure comparing and contrasting how La Llorona was portrayed in Summer of the Mariposas with the original story to explain how McCall has rendered the story new. For their end of unit assessment, students write another essay explaining how they modernized their own monster in the narrative piece they wrote in Unit 2.
Finally, for their performance task, students create a webpage for both their narratives and their essays, enriching their communities by raising awareness about Latin American folklore.
Notes from the Designer
Summer of the Mariposas contains references to sensitive topics such as a family’s abandonment by their father, a murder and children’s discovery of the corpse, illegal crossing of the border between the United States and Mexico, and Latin American folklore that includes references to magic, spells, witchcraft, and monsters. The issues presented must be carefully and sensitively discussed to give students context as they read the story. Speak with students and families in advance, especially those who may have sensitivity to topics discussed.
As English Language Arts educators know, theme is a nuanced concept. It is a big idea, a message that develops over the course of the text, emerging from the events and character responses in the text itself. In Summer of the Mariposas, as in other literary works, several notable and thought-provoking themes develop over the course of the text. EL Education has chosen to emphasize two prominent and important themes of the text (“Being kind and pure of heart can help people live fuller, more meaningful lives” and “Things are not always as they appear”) in order to allow students to track the development of these themes over multiple chapters of the text. This will not only help students deeply understand this particular text—it will also allow students to better understand the concept of theme development, so it can become one of the habits of mind they bring to any rich literary text.
It is important to note that EL Education has decided to include a theme statement at the end of chapter summary paragraphs. A summary is an objective synthesis of the key ideas of the chapter. It is true that a theme statement is not a core requirement of a summary, and not all summaries that students write anywhere else will include this type of analysis. However, this approach of ending with a theme statement (as a sort of “so what” after the synthesizing summary) helps students make a connection between summarizing and analysis.