I See the Sun in China Mini-Unit

The Mini-Unit Designer

Jasmine Robinson, teacher  

Amherst Public Schools, Western Massachusetts

Mini-Unit plan created: July 16, 2015

Introducing the Mini-Unit

This mini-unit is designed for a third grade class of twenty students with varying levels of reading attainment (assessed using Guided Reading levels and The Teacher’s College assessment tool.)

Student goals:

Universal Understandings: To present an interactive read aloud using realistic fiction told in first person narrative; students can deepen their appreciation of Chinese culture, and that differences exist between people of the same country by interacting with the text through the use of the drama process and role play, discussion, drawing and written reflections.

Content and Language Objectives:  The students will actively listen to the realistic fiction story, I Can See the Sun  and they will reflect on the themes by envisioning themselves as the protagonist ( an unnamed girl) and a sense of being there will be created through partner dialogue, role play situations, and other critical thinking activities. [The students will also examine the strategies used to the explore text. What did we do?]

Brief Theoretical Framework to Unit:

Critical Reading:

  • Including critical reading pedagogy is an essential part of any effective reading program. Interactive engagement with text allows children to critically explore texts in multimodal ways.  It is said that in the early years (pre-k to grade three) children learn to read and in the succeeding years children read to learn.  My philosophy is that children are never too young to engage in interactive activities that promote their engagement with text in deeper ways.  Children have feelings, and they do think about themselves, the world and their place in the world.  It is not only a matter of how does one present broad issues that are reflected in stories such as racism, sexism, divorce etc.  It is also about understanding democracy, social justice, empowerment, empathy, and love for our fellow human beings.
Learning Experience Design #1

Pre-Lesson Ideas:

  • Activity 1: Making connection through discussions – honing and activating funds of knowledge / prior knowledge prior to interactive experience.  Brainstorming what students know about China.  Perhaps inviting any Chinese students or parents to talk about their country.
  • Activity  2: Prior to engaging with this book the children should be made aware of the practice of Tai Chi, and Kwan Yin’s Statue as these are significant representations of culture for some Chinese people.  
  • You Tube videos to help prepare the children are listed in the reference section below.
  • Activity 3. Small group / Whole group discussion of family visits or outings - What other things do families do together? How do you imagine it feels when families do things together? Would you imagine these are the same for all people? Make a drawing of family time that was special or meaningful.
  • Activity 4. Describe the text features of a realistic fiction story that brings it alive for the reader: Setting – time and place, an event or problem to be solved, (the action and drama that keeps the story moving)
  • Activity 5: Text decoder: circle the words you know the meaning of and leave blank the ones you don’t know the meaning of.  Turn and talk to your partner about the words on the page.  Some are words that are found in the story and some are themes explored in the story.
  • differences
  • opposites
  • changes
  • country
  • city
  • fancy
  • ordinary
  • history
  • family

Post Activity: whole group discussion questions

  • How is this book different from travel books about China?
  • Why do you think the author does not give the girl a name?
  • Would you give her a name if you were the autho