Build Background Knowledge: Read and Analyze Summer of the Mariposas | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2019 G8:M1:U1

Build Background Knowledge: Read and Analyze Summer of the Mariposas

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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.

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.

In this unit, students begin to read literary nonfiction texts at their level as they choose independent research reading texts. There are Independent Reading Sample Plans located on the Tools Page ( with ideas on how to launch independent reading. Students should complete 20 minutes of independent research reading each evening that they are not prereading a chapter from the whole-class anchor text and should also continue independent research reading over weekends.

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. (See the Support All Students section of the Teaching Notes in Lesson 1 for further detail.) You will find the unit's Teaching Notes in the Unit download below.

CCS Standards

The Four Ts

  • Topic: Folklore of Latin America
  • Task: 
    • Analyze the impact of point of view and figurative language in a new excerpt of text.
    • Analyze and discuss aspects of character revealed through events in the text.
  • Targets: RL.8.1, RL.8.3, RL.8.4, RL.8.6, RL.8.10, L.8.4a, L.8.4c, L.8.4d, L.8.5a, L.8.6
  • Texts: Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, excerpt from The Latin American Story Finder


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); they work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and they work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

Working to become an ethical person is the habit of character that is emphasized in this unit. Students practice respect, empathy, and compassion as they respond to one another's ideas and skills in written work and in discussions. Students also focus on working to become ethical people as they analyze ways in which characters in their anchor text, Summer of the Mariposas, show compassion, empathy, integrity and respect in their actions. In particular, students look closely at Odilia's empathy and compassion for her sisters, and identify ways in which she demonstrates this throughout their journey. Student also find evidence of the compassion and empathy that La Llorona has for Odilia and her sisters, as she continually offers guidance and support on their journey. Students have the opportunity to think about the sisters' empathy and compassion toward one another, and any growth they show over time.


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
Summer of the Mariposas
by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
One per student
ISBN: 9781620140109

Preparation and Materials

Prepare the anchor charts listed below (see unit download for materials).

Prepare vocabulary logs and independent reading journals.

Ensure that families are aware of the sensitive content of Summer of the Mariposas, and prepare in advance those students who may be affected by this content.

The following materials are introduced in this unit and referenced throughout both the module and the school year:

  • Academic word wall
  • Domain-specific word wall
  • Equity sticks
  • Strategies to Answer Selected Response Questions anchor chart
  • Close Readers Do These Things anchor chart
  • Work to Become Ethical People anchor chart
  • Discussion Norms anchor chart
  • Online or paper translation dictionary
  • Vocabulary logs
  • Vocabulary forms
  • Affix list
  • Independent reading journals
  • Quote Accurately from the Text handout 
  • Track Progress folders


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