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Americanah Unit Lesson 1 Title: What is the American Dream?

 Teacher: Dana Nicholson

Subject Area and Grade Level: Honors ELA 4

Central Focus The focus of this lesson is establishment of the American Dream not as
a concrete ideal but as something custom designed by the one who has
the dream. Distinguishing various perspectives helps students imagine
what types of dreams emerge depending on a character’s life story as
revealed by the narrator. Practice examples of Ifemelu and Obinze in
Americanah and Khalid in American Teen as well as the nonfiction
account of an immigrant interview will uncover how personal feelings
and experiences can be identified in contexts, how these establish
custom-perspectives, and how perspectives shape American Dreams.
Content Standards RL11-12.6 Analyze a case in which grasping perspective requires
distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant.

SL11-12.3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of

evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among
ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.

W11-12.6 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or

events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structed
event sequences.
a. Organize information and ideas around a topic to plan and
prepare to write.
Learning Objectives Students will identify characters’ points of view and perspectives via
Based on Content dialogue and contextual evidence.
Students will Interpret American Dreams based on a person or
character’s point of view and perspective.

Students will begin to synthesize their findings into an essay entitled

“Memoir of My American Dream,” written in first person and reflecting
an imagined identity.
Additional Discourse: Students will articulate their observations about various
Language Supports characters and persons, both in orally introducing themselves with an
assigned identity and in written comments representing Americanah
characters, demonstrating how language establishes point of view and
perspective and how, in turn, point of view and perspective shape
American Dreams.

Syntax: Students will use professional language in creating a mock

passport and in filling out visa applications. Students will map their
brainstorming ideas for writing a memoir.
Vocabulary: Students will be able to distinguish and define: point of
view, perspective, rhetoric, explicit, and implicit contextual clues
Essential Question What is the American Dream and how does language influence your
for Students to interpretation of this concept for Khalid, Immigrant from testimony,
Explore Ifemelu, and Obinze?
21 Century Social & cross-cultural skills
Outcomes  Students become more conscious of their biases and those of others
based on each person’s unique upbringing, culture, and influences.
 Students recognize the hopes and fears of others around the world as
particular to their environments.
Critical thinking and problem solving
 Students research and discover –
1. complex laws governing migration 2. bureaucracy in different
political systems to navigate and 3. procedures to follow
 Students practice confronting the above in collaboration with
classmates and with use of effective language skills, including proper
use of vocabulary words highlighted above.
Prior Knowledge Reading of Americanah pages 1-34
Previous experience with interculturality
Writing skills in timed parameters already somewhat-honed
Word processing
Formative  Journal entry during and before Khalid’s American Teen
Assessment  Mock passport and visa application specific to assigned country
 Brainstorming in preparation for Memoir of My American Dream
 Act as if you are Ifemelu, Obinze, Khalid, or Immigrant and write on
google doc (automatically appearing on projector screen) what your
American Dream is. Afterwards the class will guess which quotes
belong to which characters as we have gotten to know them during this
Summative Begin Immigration Scrapbook. During the course of this unit (extending
Assessment beyond learning segment and through the completed reading of
Americanah), students will gather various artifacts into a portfolio or
what we are calling, “Scrapbook of an Immigrant.” The first items
gleaned from this unit are 1) passport 2) visa application 3) visa
invitation letter for a friend 4) journal entries and 5) the beginning of an
essay composed this week entitled “Memoir of an Immigrant.”

Accommodations Drew—If restless, Drew can further elaborate on his Immigrant Group
identity, enhancing his profile in writing with details of his life story.
Paul—If Paul’s personality is conducive, his group will have the privilege
of either including his wheel chair and other true accommodations or
he can adopt a new persona which does not include handicap. Perhaps
another person in his group can be said to have a handicap and Paul
becomes the consultant for what provisions could be needed.
Susana—Group mates will supply scaffolding by helping Susana
develop her immigrant identity and writing a brief introduction for the
class. Throughout this unit Susana will be cast as an asset to the group
from her bilingual experience. She offers a more genuine perspective
for this problem-based project.

Lesson Plan #1
Materials Americanah novel, sample scrapbook, sound system to play Khalid’s
song, journal, link to American Teen, print-outs of song lyrics, link to
testimony #1, print-outs of USA visa applications of five different
countries, Polaroid camera and station for making passport photos,
paper and pencil for composition brainstorming and/or Chromebooks
Organizational Individual listening and journaling
Structures Whole class lecture and discussion
Immigrant group work
Individual and group reading and brainstorming
Learning Activity Problem solving, collaborative, and individually conceived
References https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvXQD09UKKQ
“American Dream” (Khalid Robinson, 2017).
“We Became Fragments” (12:34)

Detailed Activities and Procedures

Day 1: What is the American Dream?
Reading 1-34
Pages Due
10 min 1. Welcome and Question: “What is the American Dream?”
Bellringer 2. Introduce Immigration Scrapbooks: During the course of this unit
(extending beyond learning segment and through the completed
reading of Americanah), students will compile the various artifacts into
a portfolio or what we are calling, “Scrapbook of an Immigrant.” The
first items gleaned from this unit are 1) passport 2) visa application 3)
visa invitation letter for a friend 4) journal entries and 5) the beginning
of essay composed this week entitled “Memoir of an Immigrant.”
3. Play song: Khalid’s American Teen & journal during and after followed
by highlighting certain lines and brief class discussion. Pose the
question of how Khalid’s spending six years in Germany as part of his
mom’s service in the military might have influenced his writing the
lyrics of this song.
Assessment n/a
15 min 1. Intro “We Became Fragments”
Intercultural “We Became Fragments is a short documentary about Syrian teenager Ibraheem Sarhan as he
comes of age in Winnipeg, Canada. After losing his mother and four siblings in a bombing that
left him injured, Ibraheem and his father make a new life despite the heartbreak of leaving
their home behind. The film follows Ibraheem through his first week of high school in
Winnipeg. This is a story about loss, resilience, and one young man's identity as he adapts to a
new country while his home is at war.”
2. Watch video (12.34)
3. Debrief with discussion about the speakers’ various points of view.
15 min 1. Break students into “Immigrant Groups” of 4 or 5, explaining that they
Read Aloud will be planning, traveling, and settling together in America, present
& Discussion day. All of the information relevant to their unique groups will be
given to them after read-aloud.
2. Teacher Demo read aloud of Americanah pages 34-38 (Obinze’s
perspective of Kosi).
3. Each Immigrant Group member takes turn reading two paragraphs
aloud to other group members, proceeding with pages 39 ff.
4. Single student volunteer projects to entire class pages 69-71 (Obinze’s
perspective of Ifemelu).
5. Discussion surrounding Obinze, Ifemelu, and Kosi’s points of view and
lines of reasoning, linking these to particular word choices from the
25 min 1. Students will be assigned to Nigeria, Guatemala, Syria, Philippines, or
Immigration Vietnam as their Immigrant Group country of origin. Each group
Groups member is allowed to choose an identity within the context of his/her
group as part of an imaginative story and collaborative effort. Allow a
few minutes for group development of this idea, creating character
identities/profiles for each group member and a general back story for
how/why these group members are connected in the effort to
immigrate to America. Brief online research on the country of origin
and current political climate of the country should inform decisions
about each person’s identity and reason for being a part of the group.
Personal profiles should be written in a sentence or two per person (5
min) (e.g. “I am a pregnant teen out of wedlock escaping my country
and family due to the shame of my situation esp. in my particular
culture where there is severe pressure to abort the baby but I refuse
to do so. I will go to America and raise my child in anonymity.”)
2. Each student will introduce him/herself to the class in a single
sentence or two per example above (3 minutes).
3. Each immigrant group will make mock-passports and apply for pretend
visas in line with the actual requirements of each different country
which they will research as a group. The group can choose to divide
up for this activity or work on each task together, carefully maintaining
the identities they’ve assigned to one another.
15 min Title: Memoir of My American Dream
Composition Brainstorming Prompt:
Based on the identity you chose for yourself and your group helped you
deveop, make a character map laying out your life story and reasons for
having a certain American Dream. Remember, some of your reasons may be
negative and some positive.

This is the pre-writing for a five-paragraph essay that each student will
complete by Day 5.
Act as if you are Ifemelu, Obinze, Khalid, or Ibraheem Sarhan (from video) and
10 min write on laptop (automatically appearing on projector screen via Google Docs)
Closure what your American Dream is. Afterwards the class will guess which quotes
belong to which characters as we have gotten to know them during this