Chu Ju's House & Not One Less: A Literature & Film Study Unit

Grade Levels
4th, 5th, 6th, 7th
Product Rating
3.7
File Type
Word Document File
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8.4 MB   |   93 pages

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

This is a 93-page literature and film study unit for use with the novel, Chu Ju’s House, by Gloria Whelan, and the 1999 Chinese film, Not One Less, directed by Yimou Zhang. Set in the wake of Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China, Chu Ju’s House tells the story of a young teen’s struggle to spare her baby sister from a grim future, and make a life for herself despite her bleak circumstances. Tensions between tradition and the cold, new realities of industrialization drive the plot and conflict here. Though not a film adaptation of the novel, Not One Less covers similar geographic and thematic terrain so I teach the works together, showing the film after we finish the novel. Both works feature young protagonists whose devotion to family and small village life thrust them into the net of the glittery dangers that cling to far-away cities.

NOTE: This unit does NOT include an answer key. Though some questions here are designed to assess comprehension, the overall objective is to promote discussion, critical inquiry and the development of argument-building skills. Most prompts here are open-ended so a variety of responses will be "correct," depending on how well-supported they are. If you are looking for a unit with multiple choice or fill-in-the-blanks questions you can quickly match against an answer key, this is not the right unit for you.

I developed this unit for use with my fourth and fifth graders, many of whose parents have first hand experience with the hardships the characters in these works face. Elementary grade learners are probably not ready for an in-depth exploration of the historical context of the novel and film, though this unit has sparked some class discussions about contemporary China’s crackdowns on free speech and limited economic opportunities, both factors that spurred many of my students’ families to leave China for a new life in America. Many of the questions here allow for a wide range of responses, including those that might reflect the sort of nuanced understanding of historical context that middle school readers are starting to develop.

UNIT COMPONENTS & FEATURES

• Literature Response worksheets for each 5-8 page section of the novel with 8-10 questions about the reading. Page numbers correspond with the Kindle edition. Some of the questions are designed to assess reading comprehension (or listening comprehension if you read the novel aloud); others are intended to hone critical thinking and writing skills. Several of the questions can also be used as prompts for longer writing assignments. Both the novel and the film raise some tough and complicated questions about family and adult responsibility, and explore some of the ethical dilemmas that poverty and homelessness can often trigger (i.e., Are lying and stealing ever the “right” things to do?) The Lit Response questions ask students to articulate their thoughts on these issues and write about personal experience. There are some questions geared toward English Language learners that ask students to decode idioms with which native English speakers will probably be familiar. A question about time involves math.

• 9 pages of Film Response Questions for use with the film. Some of these questions check plot comprehension, others ask students to compare/contrast the film with the novel, and a few ask for deeper analysis. A question about money involves math.

• Vocabulary quizzes, one for every 2-3 chapters.

• 4 vocabulary practice crossword puzzles with solutions.

• A vocabulary study sheet, where all words are listed with easy to understand definitions and parts of speech.

• A reproducible “Word Work-up” Frayer model-based graphic organizer for in-depth study of individual words. This page features questions about word origin, prefixes, suffixes, synonyms, antonyms and parts of speech.

• A link to a set of Chu Ju’s House vocabulary flashcards stored on FlashcardMachine.com. From this URL you can download a PDF copy of the flashcards, or let students use the “study session” feature on the website or the Flashcard Machine app for ipad & Google Play-supported android devices. Directions for three flashcard games are included with the link.

• Several “Mentor Text Exercises” designed for use with a Writers’ Workshop program. Each exercise asks students to read as writers—to pay close attention to character, conflict, point of view, and elements of craft—and apply Whelan’s writing techniques to their own works in progress.

• Directions for an art extension activity to do in conjunction with Not One Less, including links to art suppliers and examples of various steps of the process.

• Flexible formatting. This document is in Microsoft Word so you can easily modify or delete questions or directions to fit your own class’s needs. The cover image, crossword puzzles “Word Work-up” worksheet, and art activity images are embedded PDF files so they will take a little longer to load. Keep in mind that if you make changes that alter the document’s pagination, the page numbers on the Contents page might become inaccurate, but will probably stay close enough for you to find what you’re looking for.
Total Pages
93
Answer Key
N/A
Teaching Duration
N/A

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Chu Ju's House & Not One Less: A Literature & Film Study Unit