About this Unit & Novel
This is a 96-page Common Core-aligned literature study unit for use with the graphic novel Ghosts by Eisner Award-winner, Raina Telgemeier.
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.
Catrina and her family have just moved to a coastal Northern California town in hopes that the sea air will make it easier for Cat's younger sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis (CF), to breathe. There, a new friend introduces the girls to the town’s special connection with the spiritual world, but after an otherworldly encounter puts Maya in the hospital, Cat develops a fear of the spiritual presence. Themes of family, death, and the bicultural experience surface as Cat struggles to come to terms with her sister’s terminal illness.
Unit Components & Features
LITERATURE RESPONSE QUESTIONS
A set of 8-10 prompts for each 20-page section of the novel. The questions are grouped for differentiated instruction into Comprehending, Analyzing, and Connecting sections. Since this unit is editable, you can pick and choose the prompts that best fit your needs and/or break the class into groups and assign different prompts to each group. The comprehension questions are appropriate for younger students and English language learners. The questions that involve analysis ask students to think critically and to support their conclusions with textual or graphic evidence. The Connecting questions ask students to draw connections between the book and their own lives. Several of the questions can also be used as prompts for longer writing assignments. The novel raises some tough and complicated questions about death, family and the immigration experience, and the literature response prompts ask students to grapple with and reflect on personal experience with themes the novel raises. Prompts include simplified language in parentheses, which you can delete or modify as needed.
SEVERAL SHORT MENTOR TEXT EXERCISES
Designed to integrate into a writing workshop and built around specific revision strategies, each mentor text exercise asks students to read as writers—to pay close attention to elements of craft—and apply the mentor author’s writing techniques to their own works in progress. Most exercises include links to student writing samples that model approaches to applying the mentor author techniques under consideration. Though the instructions in the mentor text exercises are addressed to students, most will need some teacher guidance around the terms and concepts introduced.
4 IN-DEPTH MENTOR TEXT MINI-UNITS
Genre “Translation:” From Pictures to Words & Words to Pictures
The Poetry of Place: Searching for Setting in the World Around You
Friends & Strangers: Finding Characters in the People Around You
Writing Genre Fiction: Horror, Dystopia, Science-fiction, Fantasy & Magical Realism
Designed to spark and scaffold new writing projects, each mini-unit is a detailed, 1-2 week-long lesson plan that includes introductions to each day’s reading, discussion and/or writing session; excerpts of the mentor texts under consideration; questions to guide discussions; prompts, graphic organizers and word banks to get students started writing pieces of their own; and resources to guide the revision process. Along with excerpts from Ghosts, these mini-units also include the work of several student authors that model the approaches under consideration.
TEACHING RESOURCE: COMICS IN THE CLASSROOM
This guide to creating graphic stories and poems with your students includes an overview of digital comic-making tools; a step-by-step guide to layout, design, illustration and publication; and links to digital resources and supply vendors.
A SCIENCE EXTENSION ACTIVITY ON CYSTIC FIBROSIS
One of the characters in Ghosts has cystic fibrosis, and her struggle with the disease is central to the book’s theme and plot. This activity includes an article adapted from KidsHealth.org, pictures and videos about CF and its treatment, and questions to guide discussions and/or science writing assignments.
A VOCABULARY QUIZ
Rather than ask for definitions, instructions here ask students to use each vocabulary word in their own sentences because I’ve found that this exercise tells me a lot more about how much students understand the words than asking them for definitions does. Since the document is editable, however, you can easily change the directions to create assignments that meet your own objectives.
This is a Google document, so you can easily modify or delete anything here to fit your own class’s needs.