Description of Item:
During this unit, students read, analyzed, and discussed cultural representation in Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth. Throughout the unit, students maintained a blog with posts discussing cross-cultural comparisons of the cultural themes in the novel, such as beauty standards, family roles, and social changes over time. At the end of the unit, students demonstrated their knowledge of the book and Chinese culture in a literary essay examining the portrayal of Chinese culture and Pearl S. Buck's authority on the topics presented.
Rationale for Inclusion:
This unit demonstrates my ability to utilize various teaching methods and technologies to help students learn analysis and writing skills, as well as gain a deeper understanding of and appreciation for other cultures.
Although there were numerous unexpected schedule changes this semester that extended the time frame for this unit, it ended on a successful note. The students produced well-written essays that accomplished the goal. Some students' writing was significantly better than it was in the past, and I believe this was due to the analysis stations at the end of the unit, as well as the essay workshop and the scaffolded writing process.
During the class discussions, I did notice that some students struggled to connect information more than others, so I worked more closely with them to aid in this process. Students also had a more difficult time responding to each other's statements at the beginning. However, I guessed that this might be due to the cultural context of the classroom and the English ability of some of the learners. Once I provided more structure for the discussions, as well as a bank of phrases to use when responding to others' statements, there was much more participation.
Completing the blog entries proved to be a bit tricky in our classroom because of physical circumstances at our school. This semester, we have been in a temporary building with a weak Internet connection while a new facility is under construction. So, instead of using our computers and the Internet to write the blog entries, students wrote rough drafts by hand in class and then posted them at home. In the future, I would like to see the students use more media in their reading responses.