“Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros Lesson Plan

After teaching high school for 20 years, I was a little nervous about my new middle school teaching assignment. Then I realized it’s kind of the same as teaching high school, except students are smaller and the stories are different.

The skills, however, remain the same–just at a different level.

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And of course the learning target stays the same: I can cite textual evidence to support analysis.”

You mean, middle school students are capable of citing textual evidence and analyzing literature?

They are with this “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros lesson plan.

And here’s the handout that will make teaching the lesson easy. 

“Eleven by Sandra Cisneros” Analysis

With the “Eleven” support/refute organizer, students are set up to cite textual evidence. The handout is simple (and if you haven’t downloaded it yet, it’s literally inches above this sentence.)

They are also set up for analysis. The middle column of the organizer has a statement that can be either supported or refuted by textual evidence from the story.

The student’s choice/analysis is to pick a column–either the “refute” or the “support” column. Their choice is based on the evidence that they supply. the aforementioned handout you’ve already downloaded, right?

Theme in “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros

There’s no sense in telling students to cite textual evidence to support analysis and just leave it at that. It’s time to take a look at theme.

The evidence you’ve collected in the graphic organizer will help students determine themes from the story. They include the following.

The great thing is they have already collected evidence to support the theme they have determined.

In other words, students can cite textual evidence to support analysis (of theme this time).

  1. Growing up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The narrator of the story has just turned 11, but she’s discovered that just because you’re 11 doesn’t mean everything’s fine. In fact, the same crummy things that happen to you when you’re 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, etc. happen when you’re 11. This is the story’s primary theme.
  2. Life is full of disappointment. I realize this sounds depressing for an 11-year-old, but life is full of disappointment. In this case, the narrator’s birthday is full of disappointment. When discussing this particular theme, you may want to discuss how the narrator’s attitude and unwillingness to move on contributes to the crumminess of the day.
  3. Sometimes adults suck, too (even teachers). Teachers are human. Certain things matter to an 11-year-old that wouldn’t even register with us. At times, this leads to teacher insensitivity. I, for one, made two students cry this week alone. I still don’t know what I said that was so wrong. Sometimes adults just don’t get it.

Check out these other short story lesson plans for middle school or high school.

  • “Amigo Brothers” by Piri Thomas. Two friends fight for their dream…against each other.
  • “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury. Two brats fight their parents to not get their technology taken away.
  • “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe. A drunken lunatic fights a demonic cat.
  • “The Ravine” by Graham Salisbury. A young boy fights peer pressure to increase his odds of living past the age of 12.

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