English Language Arts Grade 10, Unit 1: Cultural Conversations.

Hello All!
Welcome to English Language Arts Grade 10, Unit 1: Cultural
It is my privilege to have your student in class this year. I think we’re
already off to a great start getting to know each other and diving in to our work
for the year. But please, don’t take my word for it. Ask your student! I am
very hopeful about keeping open communication this year with students and also
with you, the family members. As this is my first year teaching, I will admit that
the workload will be a bit heavy for me. One of the things that may be difficult
for me is to be proactive about communication, but I want to assure you that
normally I respond to emails quickly and would be very happy to hear from you
regarding your student’s performance and wellbeing. This year all English
departments in the district are basing our curriculum on a comprehensively
designed resource called Springboard. It has already gotten a bad reputation
among students and so I’m working very hard to adapt it and modify it to make
learning as engaging and powerful as possible. The info you will find below is
derived directly from Springboard and will give you a sense of where we are
heading during this first unit. I am very much looking forward to getting to know
you and your student this year. Welcome!
Justin Tobin
In this unit, students explore the ideas of culture and community. Two essential
questions focus their attention on the skills and knowledge presented and
assessed in the unit:
 How do cultural experiences shape, impact, or influence our identity and
 What role does heritage play in our cultural identity?
Students answer these questions through the activities, discussions, and
assessments in the unit.
Two performance-based tasks, called Embedded Assessments, give students an
opportunity to demonstrate their new learning in the skills of exposition and
argumentation. Specifically,
 Embedded Assessment 1 asks students to write an essay explaining their
cultural identity.
 Embedded Assessment 2 asks students to argue the importance of culture
in one’s life.
In both cases, students demonstrate their ability to organize ideas, develop key
concepts, and incorporate textual evidence.
Developing Skills and Knowledge for the Assessments
Throughout the unit, students engage in activities in which they use strategies
such as questioning the text and collaboration to practice the important skills of
close reading, speaking and listening, and writing in response to texts. Students
analyze and discuss a variety of texts such as an excerpt from the novel The Joy
Luck Club by Amy Tan and the essay “An Indian Father’s Plea” by Robert Lake.
Throughout the unit, discussion is highly promoted as a way to encourage lively
debate about ideas.
Students’ vocabulary study concentrates on academic vocabulary of
argumentation and exposition, such as perspective, claim, and counterclaim, and
vocabulary specific to literary study such as figurative language and syntax.
Helping Your Child
Students should be “practicing” every day in class for their upcoming
performance on the Embedded Assessments. Help your child reflect on and
focus his or her learning by asking the following questions:
 What did you learn today? What texts did you read, discuss, and respond
to in writing? What strategies did you use during your reading, discussing,
and writing?
 What did you learn today that will help you succeed on the upcoming
Embedded Assessment? What do you still need to practice?
You may also find it helpful to read through the Embedded Assessments
(particularly the Scoring Guides) and to note the Learning Targets that are
located at the beginning of each unit activity.