Title: “Broken Chain”
Suggested Time: 3-5 days (45 minutes per day)
Common Core ELA Standards: RL.7.1, RL.7.2, RL.7.3, RL.7.6; W.7.2, W.7.4, W.7.9; SL.7.1, L.7.1, L.7.2
Preparing for Teaching
1. Read the Big Ideas and Key Understandings and the Synopsis. Please do not read this to the students. This is a description for teachers about the big ideas and key understanding that students should take away after completing this task.
Big Ideas and Key Understandings
Characters have complicated motivations behind their actions; these motivations and actions are often tied to a character’s sense of identity.
In “Broken Chain,” Alfonso, a seventh grader, dislikes his appearance. He meets a girl named Sandra, whom he admires, and asks her to go biking with him. Sandra’s bicycle has a flat tire, so he offers to borrow the bicycle of his older brother, Ernie. Jealous because Alfonso might have a girlfriend, Ernie complicates Alfonso’s plans by refusing to lend him his bike. The situation worsens when Alfonso’s bicycle chain breaks. Ernie eventually changes his mind, however, and Alfonso and Sandra happily share Ernie’s bicycle.
2. Read the entire selection, keeping in mind the Big Ideas and Key Understandings.
3. Re-read the text while noting the stopping points for the Text Dependent Questions and teaching Tier II/academic vocabulary.
1. Students read the entire selection independently.
2. Teacher reads the text aloud while students follow along or students take turns reading aloud to each other. Depending on the text length and student need, the teacher may choose to read the full text or a passage aloud. For a particularly complex text, the teacher may choose to reverse the order of steps 1 and 2.
3. Students and teacher re-read the text while stopping to respond to and discuss the questions, continually returning to the text. A variety of methods can be used to structure the reading and discussion (i.e., whole class discussion, think-pair-share, independent written response, group work, etc.)
Text Dependent Questions
Why does Alfonso try “to push his crooked teeth to where he thought they belonged” and do “fifty sit-ups a day” (p. 17)? What do these actions reveal about his character?
Alfonso “hated the way he looked.” “He wanted ‘cuts’ like those he had seen on a calendar of an Aztec warrior…” (p. 17) His actions and thoughts show that Alfonso is discovering his sexuality. For example, he is obsessed with muscles so that “girls in cut-offs would notice” and he notices the cuts of the girl in the calendar in her thin dress (p. 17). Most importantly, he is determined to be “better looking than average” and becomes self-conscious about his teeth to the point of infatuation.
On page 18, explain one internal conflict and one external conflict that Alfonso faces. How are these conflicts significant to Alfonso’s identity?
External: Father and son...