Destiny, Fate, or Free Will?: Unit, Part IV, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian


Part One
Part Two
Part Three

VI.  Transition Option Two

Depending on your particular class, you may find this transition option more effective. It’s best to have two or three “bridge” assignments because as we all know, class personalities greatly differ! 


This transition incorporates the connection of how we treat others and how others treat us, based on such factors as race, ethnicity, and culture.  First have students ascertain their understanding of terms such as self-fulfilling prophecy. Given what they’ve just read, they should have a pretty good idea! 


Your task in the discussion is to help them understand the current psychological and sociological implications of the term. Once they seem to have a solid grasp and have provided real-life examples that seem to have everyone nodding their heads, you’ll want to have them make the connection to such terms as stereotyping, marginalizing, and discrimination.  


The goal is to point them towards an understanding of the connection between how people, teenagers in particular (but you may not want to advertise that point), are engaged in all of these behaviors to a degree. Empathizing with this fact, we want them to move into how Junior moves through each and every one. 


Depending on where the discussion ends, you may want to have them journal about the discussion at the end of class or for homework. If you have time, have them begin reading the text together. 


VII. Reading the Text

If you’re lucky, you can break up the reading into thirds, finding ideal spots for break offs—students will, more than likely, find it engrossing and engaging. By purposefully presenting Oedipus, first, you’ve set them up for success in reading solo. 


In the past, I’ve found great success with short quizzes on reading at the beginning of class, which include simple questions based on the “chunk” they’ve read. I would present these before moving into discussion to provide those students who actually did the reading with a boost to their grade. 


Confirmation of understanding is at the core of breaking up the text, and depending on  your group and time-frame, you may want to have volunteers illustrate, dramatize, or retell the story to the class. The beauty of having students as the center of attention increases understanding. As you work through each chunk of the text, highlight literary elements you find along the way. 


VIII. Analysis

A.   After reading, students should determine the author’s argument:  What message does Alexie want readers to understand about self-fulfilling prophecy, predestination, or free will? Through what literary elements, such as plot, character, or symbolism, do they receive the message? Why do you think he wrote about this particular age-group, race, and culture, at this particular moment in history?


For lower-level classes, you may want to provide students with the option to work in pairs. This may be their first literary analysis. The idea is that they are able to articulate what the author argues, how, and why. For this very first endeavor, also consider having them expand on only one paragraph per focus to ensure they understand how to build an analysis. 


Paragraph One: What they think Alexie argues in the novel and why.


Paragraph Two: One literary element that he uses to make that argument--using examples from the novel to support their choice.  

Paragraph Three: Why, based on what they've read, do they think he chose to write this message to readers of today.


The next “bump” in thinking is much more in-depth. That is, students will be combining personal narrative with argument, using Alexie’s text as a model. Coming soon! : )


1 comment:

  1. Have you ever taught this as a whole group novel? I just finished reading it and couldn't help but reflect on the challenges this book presents as a shared novel. I see no problem with it as an independent text. What are your thoughts on this?