Noodle News

What are we up to in Mrs. Nudelman's Language Arts class?

In the year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Betty Bao Lord

This is a wonderful historical fiction novel about a little girl, Shirley Temple Wong, who moves to Brooklyn, New York from China in 1947. Through her story, the children are learning about traditional Chinese culture, life during the 1940s, and the integration of baseball. Along with our lively discussions, we have been charting all the differences of Shirley's old life in China to her new life in Brooklyn, as well as comparing her Chinese culture to American culture, and comparing 1947 to 2015. The students and I are also discussing some very deep themes such as loneliness, bravery, and equality. We are charting Shirley's emotions throughout the story using a Drama Based Instruction strategy called Role on the Wall. Basically, we chart all of the events that are happening to the character on the outside of an outline of her and record the students' inferences of her emotions on the inside of her outline.

Jackie Robinson

In this novel, the main character, Shirley Temple Wong, finds a connection with her new American classmates through baseball. She finds a hero to follow in Jackie Robinson. And she finds she's passionate about America's favorite pastime. Shirley and her classmates learn that, just like in baseball, one person can change the game and one person can make a difference. One person can make a positive change. The students will research Jackie Robinson and think about the positive impact he made, not only in American sports, but in changing the way Americans think. We will again use the Role on the Wall strategy to infer Jackie Robinson's emotions throughout the many impressive and historical events in his life. The students will listen to Jackie Robinson read his This I Believe essay and learn how annotating a text helps to deepen your understanding. Finally, the students will write their own This I Believe statements in the form of list poems. This is my favorite writing assignment of the year because the poems turn out to be such beautiful snapshots of their little 2nd grade personalities!

Connections

The integration of baseball leads naturally into a discussion about segregation. Through this discussion, we will explore the concept of racism. Your children amaze me daily with their insightful observations and ability to think deeply. I'm looking forward to engaging them in rich conversation around this issue that is unfortunately still relevant.


After analyzing Shirley's many positive character strengths and Jackie Robinson's courageousness, we'll culminate this unit by thinking about the many ways regular people can make a difference in the world. Using the website Values.com, we'll explore bios of people who've done some incredible things and apply that thinking to the people we know from school, home, family, and the community. The children will then create their own "billboards" to honor someone inspiring from their everyday lives.