Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

16. The Search For Identity

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
- Video
- Author
- Context
- Creative Response
- PBL Projects

Activities: Author Activities

Sandra Cisneros - Teaching Tips

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  • Some students may have very fond memories of playing with Barbie dolls as children. This may make them both especially resistant and especially attracted to "Barbie-Q." Use your students' memories of childhood play to help steer conversation toward two ideas that Cisneros seems to be questioning: (1) Barbie dolls themselves as models for women, and (2) the sorts of modeling young children see that encourages them to play in certain ways, e.g., having their dolls fight over men.

  • Along the same lines, you might bring a Barbie doll to class (or ask students to bring one of their childhood Barbie dolls) to compare Barbie's physical dimensions with an actual woman's (some analysts have claimed that no real woman could exist with Barbie's dimensions). Also, you might note that in 1998, the Mattel toy company introduced new Barbie dolls, some of which had wider waists and hips, flatter chests, thinner lips, and flatter feet than the traditional Barbies. Why might the company have introduced these new dolls?

  • Ask your students why Cisneros might use stories about children to tackle very adult themes: same-sex desire, sexism, and racism. You might also want to discuss the challenges of writing from a child's perspective. Do your students think Cisneros does a good job of capturing children's "voices" through her child narrators? Why or why not?

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