The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, is a beautifully written novel exploring themes of multiculturalism, complex family relationships, immigration, and friendship. The eight main characters are female, and the tales of four mothers born in China are woven with those of their daughters, all born in America. Perspective is first person, shifting with each story; each mother narrates two chapters, and each daughter recounts two, for a total of sixteen chapters. Figurative language abounds, and a sense of the traditional Chinese culture is understood more fully upon completion.
This unit is complete from start to finish, including prediction activities, two vocabulary units, reading log, study guides, two major writing assignments, journal prompts, figurative language, creative heritage assignment, interactive Chinese New Year party, group review project, movie permission slip, and unit test. Part of the vocabulary assignment involves drawing a word-free picture for each word (assign students a word upon handing out the assignment). Vote on multiples, and the “winners” can be posted during the test. Vocabulary tests can be differentiated in three more variations: 1) a matching test; 2) matching test with sentences using context; and 3) a written test asking for definitions and sentences. The evaluation essay includes an outline, and the creative writing piece offers structure in interview questions. This unit can literally be handed to a first-year teacher or long-term sub with very minimal experience, and will encompass a wide variety of standards. We hope you and your students enjoy this gorgeously poignant book as much as we did.
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Emily and Sarah