Unit Schedule – Under the Persimmon Tree
Day 1: 2/4 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
Introduction of Tues. 2/8 Wed. 2/9 Thurs 2/10 Fri. 2/11
Unit Group research Introduction of Unit Workshop: Workshop:
Group Members presentations Discussion Questions Focus on Finish reading
Preliminary Personal Success reading & & annotating
Research Jobs Plan annotating
Day 6 Day 7: Day 8: Wed 2/16 Day 9 Day 10
Mon. 2/14 Tues 2/15 Chapters 1-6 due Thurs 2/17 Fri. 2/18
Workshop: Workshop: Lit Circle #1 & Socratic Circle Workshop:
Role / poetry Role / poetry group Role Sharing – & Focus on
group support support Due Today: Workshop reading &
Role& Poem annotating
Day 11 Day 12: Day 13 Day 14 Day 15
Mon. 2/28 Tues 3/1 Wed. 3/2 Thurs 3/3 Fri 3/4
Workshop: ORQ: Chapter 7 Workshop: Chapters 7-12 Socratic Circle
Role / poetry Role / poetry group due &
group support support Lit Circle #2 & Workshop
Role Sharing –
Role & Poem 2
Day 16 Day 17: Day 18 Day 19 Day 20
Mon. 3/7 Tues. 3/8 Wed. 3/9 Thur. 3/10 Fri. 3/11
Workshop: Focus Workshop: ORQ: Ch. 13 Workshop: Workshop:
on reading & Finish reading & Role / poetry Role / poetry
annotating annotating group support group support
Day 21 Day 22: Day 23 Day 24 Day 25
Mon. 3/14 Tues. 3/15 Wed. 3/16 Thurs. 3/17 Fri. 3/18
Chapters 13-18 Socratic Circle & Workshop: Workshop: Workshop:
due Workshop Focus on reading & Finish reading Role / poetry
Lit Circle #3 & annotating & annotating group support
Role Sharing –
Role & Poem 3
Day 26 Day 27 Day 28 Day 29 Day 30
Mon. 3/20 Tues 3/21 Wed 3/22 Thurs. 3/23 Fri. 3/24
Workshop: Chapters 19-23 due Final Socratic Circle Group Essay Work
Role / poetry Lit Circle #3 & Group Portfolio Portfolio Begins
group support Role Sharing – Assembly Museum Walk
Role & Poem 4
Character Development Unit Overview
Overview: For this unit, we will be exploring how characters are affected by the world and events
around them. During this six- week unit (four weeks of reading, followed by one week of project design
and then essay preparation), you will work in literature circles to read and analyze Under the Persimmon
Tree, which focuses on this central issue. In other words, your book presents a character who is shaped
and changed by the setting and conflicts. So, as you read, you will be tracking this character’s traits,
and watching for the catalysts that provoke change.
To help you focus on these central issues, your literature circle will have 4 distinct roles, each of which
delves into key aspects of your novel. These roles are explained on the attached sheet; they are:
Cultural Attaché, Conflict Identifier, Nonfiction Navigator, and Symbol Seeker. Each role has a required
product that must be presented on the discussion day at the end of the week and filed in the group’s
work folder. Please note that your role will change at the end of each week, giving you a chance to
experience several different ways to explore the novel. Regardless of which role you are fulfilling, you
will be focusing on some aspect of these key questions: How is a character affected by the world around
her? How does the world shape a story?
Also, you will each create poems that focus on central issues of the novel, while helping you stretch your
ability to express yourself through the written word. Each week, someone from your group will share
one of the group’s poems with the class.
Your work each week, during class and at home, will be driven by the literature circle discussion question
you have to complete for the upcoming literature circle day and your group roles. During the literature
circle day, group members will take turns sharing their work. You will individually annotate while reading
in order to complete your role and poem. During workshop days, you will complete the tasks you have set
for yourself and meet with both your group members and class members who are working on the same
role or poem type as you. In addition, I will be available to meet with groups during each week.
Open response questions
annotations / sticky notes
Poems & Roles
Major assessment: analytic essay
In novels and in life, who we are is - in part - a product of the world in which we live.
There are catalysts that affect changes in people.
Symbols can help a reader understand a novel’s deeper messages.
You will be able to
Identify events that provoke change in a character’s traits and behaviors
Express literary understanding through poetry
Support any ideas with textual evidence and analysis.
Write a solid analytical essay applying the format we’ve been using this year.
Under The Persimmon Tree ~ Group Roles
Instructions: Roles one through four will rotate each week—you will get a turn to do each role. For each role, you
will complete one of the two role options described on the next sheet. Beyond this, everyone will do role five each
week. The work that you do on these roles will lead to a major culminating project that you will complete as a
1. Cultural Attaché— This role examines the role of culture and setting in the novel.
a. As you read, annotate with sticky notes any cultural references you encounter.
b. After you finish reading the section, select the most important cultural references to include on the
c. On your final product, focus on your best 2 examples. Use specific evidence from the text, then
explain how and why that reference is important to the novel and the conflict, and – finally – write a
personal response – how do you react to each of these details?
2. Conflict Identifier-This role examines the role of conflict in the novel, as well as its impact on the
individual characters and on larger groups of people.
a. As you read, annotate with sticky notes any conflicts that you encounter.
b. After you finish reading the section, select the most important conflicts to include on the graphic
c. On your final product, focus on your best 2 examples. Use specific evidence from the text, identify
the type of conflict (man vs. man, vs. self, or vs. society), and then explain how and why the conflict
impacts the characters and larger groups of people.
3. Symbol Seeker- Symbolism is an important literary device that author’s use to convey important ideas,
messages and themes. In Under The Persimmon Tree, Staples frequently uses the symbols of stars and
trees (the persimmon).
a. As you read, annotate with sticky notes any references to stars and trees that you encounter.
b. After you finish reading the section, select the most significant symbols from the section to include
on the graphic organizer.
c. On your final product, focus on your best 2 examples. Use specific evidence from the text, and then
explain what the symbol represents and why Staples included it in the text.
4. Non-Fiction Navigator—This novel is a fictional account of a young girl’s experiences in war-torn
Afghanistan. As the researcher, you will find and read a non-fiction article that connects to the section of the
novel you are reading.
a. You may choose a topic from the suggested list of topics in this packet, or find a topic that strikes
you while you read.
b. As you read, annotate with sticky notes the topic that you are researching so that you can easily make
connections to the novel.
c. Find an article about the topic – you may use the school databases, links on the 8 Gold webpage, a
print article, or any other reputable source. Don’t spend too long looking for one, though!
d. Take notes on the article - You will have to identify and explain the author’s purpose, as well as
make connections to the novel – in other words, what does the article teach you about the reality
behind the novel, and how does it affect you?
e. Write up your response in a couple paragraphs, and include an MLA citation of your article.
(See other side for role 5, to be completed by everyone, each week)
To Be Completed by Everyone, Each Week:
5. Personal Poet- Every week, each group member will explore the feelings and experiences of either Najmah
or Nusrat through poetry. See the attached sheet for five different types of poems. Each week, you will
select a different style of poetry, and create a poem that focuses on the topic / prompt for that section of the
book. Along with the poem, please include a one paragraph explanation of your poem which explains how
it answers the prompt. Be sure to explain your word choice, and use & cite direct evidence from the book.
Each week, you will complete your role and poem in time to submit them to your group folder. During
these Lit circle days, each group will select one poem to share with the class.
At the end of the final section, you and your group will create a final presentation portfolio to submit
for a museum walk and for assessment. You will review your group packet, to find the best examples of
each role, and 4 poem types. These will be put together into your group’s portfolio. Your portfolio
o An example of each role – one per each section of the book
o A poem from each section of the book. These must be four different TYPES of poems.
o Each group member must submit one role and one poem. These can be from any section.
o The group, together, must decide who submits what – if two people want to submit the same role
or a poem for the same section of the book, the majority in the group will make the decision.
o If a group member does not turn in all parts on time, they lose their voice in the voting process!
Make sure you turn in each part on time, so you can help decide which of your items gets
submitted for a grade.
o If a group cannot make a decision, I will make the decision for you.
Non-Fiction Navigator: Suggested Topics
As the Non-fiction Navigator, your job is to find, read, and analyze one magazine article that connects with
your particular section of the novel. While you are welcome (and encouraged) to choose your own topic, based
on details that have interested you in your section, here are some ideas which you are welcome to use.
Remember, you are to use the online databases (Infotrac) to find an article, and you need to create an accurate
bibliographic entry for the article you use.
Section 1 (chapters 1-6)
Sharia and the treatment of women under the Taliban
The use and wearing of the burqua
Hospitals in war regions – Doctors without Borders, etc.
American operations in Afghanistan – specifically, bombing raids and their impacts
The US invasion of Afghanistan, after September 11, 2001
Section 2 (chapters 7-12)
Connections between Christianity and Islam
Internally displaced people – refugee stories
Life / travelling in Afghanistan’s mountains
UN involvement in Afghanistan
Section 3 (chapters 13-18)
Mullahs and their importance
The dangers of land mines / unexploded ordinances
Sharia and the treatment of women
Refugee camps – life within one
Children in refugee camps
Section 4 (chapters 19-23)
Resettlement of refugees
Ka’aba – pilgrimage and the Black Stone
Current conditions in Afghanistan and the war
Personal Poet Instructions
Instructions: For each section of the book, focus on the prompt below. Use it to guide your brainstorming /
annotating as you read. Then, select a poem form from the list below. Be sure to use the online links, the
discussion board, and the samples in the classroom to guide your work – remember, you need to do FOUR of
these by the end of the book, so you won’t create examples of all 5.
Prompts to guide your thoughts: Below are some questions to get you thinking in each section. Remember, these
are guidelines. If, when you read a section, you find another topic which really strikes you, you may see me to
discuss it – the goal here is to show you understand the character(s), while exploring some creative poetry; your
own inspiration and ideas are always welcome!
Entry Najmah Nusrat
1 Who are you? Focus on who you are at this point, Who are you? Focus on who you are at this point, or
or a key moment that has a major impact on you. a key moment that has a major impact on you (such
2 How are you changing due to the new experiences How did meeting Faiz affect your life? What do you
you encounter as you travel through the mountains? think of when you think about him?
3 How do you feel about Nusrat? How is she How do you feel about Najmah? How is she
affecting you? affecting you?
4 Focus on change – how are you different? What Focus on change – what have you learned? What
choices can you make now, that you couldn’t decisions have you made, and why? Reflect on your
before? Reflect on your journey, and how far journey, and how far you’ve come – or where you’re
you’ve come – or where you’re going. going.
Poetry Options: Each week, select a different form from the list. See the examples of each type, and please come
in with any questions! **Challenge / 4 option: include and explain at least 1 type of figurative language in your
poem, and label the rhyme scheme**
1. Found Poem: For this, you will use the actual text to create a poem. Find a key passage / chapter, and
write down key words and phrases that are in it. Use these to create a poem which focuses on the major
importance / impact in the scene – your poem should highlight how the character feels at that point in the
novel. Be sure to cite the pages on which you based your found poem in your brief explanation / analysis.
2. Acrostic: An acrostic poem uses the letters in a topic word to start each line of the poem. Every line
connects back to this topic word. To start, focus on the prompt for your section. What words come to mind
when you answer that prompt? For example, it may be an emotion – like ‘shocked’ or ‘hopeless’ or perhaps
an object / place / event that has great importance to a character (like ‘Taliban’, or ‘persimmon’). Now, write
a brainstorm of ways this word connects with / affects your character. Use this list to create an acrostic
poem that focuses on your character at this point in the novel. **use the web tool to help you create this!**
make sure to cite the pages on which you based your poem, in your brief analysis.
3. “I am” Poem: This is a first-person poem, which explores a character’s feelings, outlook, and personality.
Each line begins with some form of a personal statement (I am… I feel… I think…). Based on this point in
the novel, write a 3-stanza “I am” poem. You may incorporate some direct quotes in the poem, and should
reference specific events / scenes as well. If you use direct quotes, cite the page numbers in your brief
4. Shape (or Pattern) Poem: A shape poem is a poem whose shape refers to the subject. In other words, the
poem itself is written into or around a shape (so, a poem about a tree may be written along the edge of a tree
shape, or the lines may form the silhouette of a tree). Start by finding an image that holds meaning for the
character in this section – it can be literal, like a truck, or tree, or mountain, or something more abstract /
symbolic, like a tear drop, a star, or a sunrise… Now, brainstorm ways that this image connects with the
character. From this brainstorm, you will craft a poem that will be written in the shape of the image (see the
5. Diamante Poem: A diamante is a diamond-shaped, 7 line poem. It uses nouns, adjectives, and gerunds in a
set pattern to explore a topic… these poems are great for showing change – a poem can start out focusing on
say, being with someone and – at the end – switch over to focusing on being alone. In sections of the book
where your character has gone through a major change, this poem form may be a great way to show it.
6. Poetry of Rock: In this option, you’re not actually writing a poem. Rather, you’re doing what we do each
week, with the song “This is me.” You will find a song that you feel connects with your character’s
development at this phase of the novel (please, make sure the lyrics are appropriate and ask me if you are not
certain). Print out a copy of the song lyrics and ANALYZE them. Specifically,
a. Note specific connections between the lyrics and your character – are there lines, words, images in
the song which relate to this section of the book? Mark it up like we do for Socratic prep, only use
complete sentences and good grammar.
b. If there are any examples of figurative language in the lyrics, mark them (simile / metaphor /
c. If there is a rhyme scheme, note it (label the lines AABB etc.)
d. In your analysis, sum up why you selected this song – what is the main connection you see between
it and your character at this point in her journey?
Examples of Poetry
Found Poem: (from Readwritethink.org)
Original Text (from Sachar, Louis. Holes.) Found Poem
There was a change in the weather. There was a change
For the worse. For the worse.
The air became unbearably humid. Stanley was drenched The air became humid
in sweat. Beads of moisture ran down the handle of his Beads of moisture ran down
shovel. It was almost as if the temperature had gotten The handle of his shovel
so hot that the air itself was sweating. It was almost as if Personification:
A loud book of thunder echoed across the empty lake. The air itself was sweating having the air
A storm was way off to the west, beyond the mountains. Thunder echoed across the empty lake sweat
Stanley could count more than thirty seconds between A storm beyond the mountains. emphasizes how
The flash of lightning and the clap of thunder. That was Thirty seconds between the flash humid it is.
how far away the storm was. Sound travels a great And the thunder
distance across a barren wasteland Sound travels a great distance
Across a barren wasteland
Acrostic: Metaphor – poems don’t literally come from the
“A Peace Sign” By Paul McCann heart; this means they are deeply felt.
People need love care and friendship . [A]
Every word that we let slip. [A]
All the prayers that come from our heart [B] Rhyme
Could be the sign for peace to start [B]
Everyone must play their part . [B]
I am poem (from http://smithenglish9.blogspot.com/2007/02/i-am-poem.html)
I am unique
I wonder what the world has come to Metaphors:
I hear the music to my ears *She doesn’t literally touch
someone’s heart – it means she
I am unique makes an emotional connection.
*“end of my story” is a metaphor
I pretend that I can do anything I imagine for death.
I feel the need to help
I touch hearts of many
Note the use of repetition – the
I worry about the end of my story main focus of the poem is “I am
I am unique unique.”
I understand the role of faith and friendship
I say we are all united
I dream every night about what is to come
I try my best at every given task
I hope to succeed
I am unique
Shape / Pattern Poem
dancing, but Metaphor – the
this light doesn’t
captures literally take the
how they person far away –
move, and they’re speaking of
in the poet’s
shapes the lines
central object – a
The tree is tree.
personified as an
This poem uses the lines to fill
the shape – a candle – and each
line focuses on the importance of
Line No. Poem Title: “Seasons” Parts of Speech:
= 1 noun. The topic or theme of the poem (and, the
opposite of line 7).
2: = 2 adjectives. They describe the noun in line 1.
= 3 gerunds (verb + ing). They describe the noun in
3: Skiing, skating, sledding
= 4 nouns: two nouns related to line 1 and two
4: Mountains, wind, breeze, ocean
nouns related to line 7.
= 3 gerunds (verb + ing). They describe the noun in
5: Swimming, surfing, scuba diving
6: = 2 adjectives. They describe the noun in line 7.
= 1 noun. This is an antonym (opposite) for the noun
in line 1.
Persimmon Tree: Final Weekly Products
Cultural Attaché / Conflict Identifier / Symbol Seeker:
For each of these roles, you have two options:
1. Standard paragraph write-up: Choose your BEST TWO examples for your topic, and
analyze them in 1-2 paragraphs. Be sure to incorporate all 3 columns from your graphic
organizer (for example, for Cultural Attaché, you would quote a cultural reference, then
analyze why it is important, and then reflect on your personal connections to it).
2. Topical Scrapbook: For this option, you will choose your BEST TWO examples of your
topic, and – for each one - do the following:
a. Find / create an image to represent it
b. Include a caption beneath the image – this MUST include a quote and page number
c. Include text boxes where you analyze / reflect on the particular example. Again,
you must incorporate each column from your graphic organizer.
Example layout for a scrapbook:
“Text quote” (52).
In this box, you should have: In this box, you should have:
For Culture: Analysis of why the For Culture: Personal connections – your
reference is important – how does it reactions to this detail
affect the book?
For Conflict: Explain the conflict, identify For Conflict: Analyze the conflict – how and
the TYPE and PROVE it is that type! why does it impact the characters? Include
For Symbol: Explain the scene where the For Symbol: Analyze what the symbol means,
symbol is used – what’s going on? and how you know this (a quote will help this)
Non-Fiction Navigator: This requires a write-up in standard paragraph form:
First Paragraph: Introduce the article, and explain the author’s purpose. Give textual support.
Second Paragraph: Explain and analyze the article’s connections to the text – key question: what
does this article teach you about the real world which this novel is based on?
Role Rubric (for all except the Research Role)
Standards: 4 3 2 1
Choice of Textual evidence in Textual evidence Textual evidence Textual evidence
Quotations paragraph provides included in paragraph included in paragraph included in
excellent support for provides adequate does not always paragraph does
Reads and your journal entry. support for your support your journal not support your
comprehends a Textual evidence is journal entry. entry. journal entry, or
variety of grade comprehensive and Possibly better there isn’t
level texts highly relevant. quotations available, Textual evidence may enough evidence
or not completely not be focused on to evaluate.
comprehensive to the your main idea.
Character Entry demonstrates Entry demonstrates Entry demonstrates Entry
Development strong, insightful clear understanding of some understanding demonstrates
understanding of the the character. Entry of the character. very little
Analyzes the character. Entry thoroughly and fully Entry somewhat understanding of
elements of insightfully and articulates the articulates the the character.
literature to coherently articulates character’s thoughts character’s thoughts Entry does not
demonstrate the character’s and feelings based on and feelings based on clearly articulate
comprehension thoughts and feelings the events of the the events of the the character’s
based on the events novel. novel. thoughts and
of the novel. feelings based on
the events of the
Grammar, Usage, Varied sentence Sentences are of Errors in sentence Errors in
and Mechanics beginnings, all words varying length, most structure, spelling or sentence
spelled correctly, words spelled incorrect usage of structure,
Uses standard correct use of correctly, no incorrect punctuation and spelling,
English punctuation and usage of punctuation capitalization are punctuation or
conventions in capitalization rules. and capitalization. distracting to the grammar make
writing, revising, Perfect use of page Careful use of page reader. your writing
and editing. citations. citations. Many errors in page difficult to
Key Focus Area Yes No Teacher commendations / suggestions
“Cited pages at end of sentence”(45).
Connected analysis back to topic
Clearly proofread out loud
Name:________________________ Poem Type:_________________________ Per:______
4 3 2 1
Poem Poem is highly Poem lines/ Poem is a good attempt, Poem is
thoughtful/creative vocabulary words but did not fit the format incomplete, or does
Writes with and the lines all build chosen mostly guidelines, or lacks any not meet the basic
on a central theme / connect to a big idea. central connection to the format. Contains
idea. Contains Poem follows the story. Reason for specific no real connections
organization figurative language or format guidelines. word choices / details are to text, or is
and supporting a rhyme scheme which unclear, or contains an inaccurate.
detail enhance the meaning. inaccuracy.
Explanation Explanatory paragraph Explanatory Paragraph’s analysis is Paragraph is too
clearly and accurately paragraph provides weak – lacks specific brief / vague to
Reads and draws connections adequate connections insights into the text, and show any real
between the poem and between poem and may not provide any understanding, or
the text, using specific text. Possibly better direct evidence. Overall, contains multiple
variety of grade textual details. Shows quotations available paragraph is vague and inaccuracies
level texts excellent insight into to connect to the big does not demonstrate a
the novel & the idea of the poem. clear grasp of the material
Grammar, Usage, Excellent spelling in Poem / paragraph Errors in sentence Errors in sentence
and Mechanics poem and paragraph. may have 1-2 minor structure, spelling or structure, spelling,
Uses correct grammar errors in grammar or incorrect usage of punctuation or
(including poem word spelling. punctuation and grammar make
choice) throughout. Paragraph is in capitalization are your writing
English Paragraph is well complete sentences. distracting to the reader. difficult to
conventions in written, with varied Careful use of page May have several understand.
writing, sentences. citations. grammar errors in the No page citations.
revising, and Perfect use of page poem (wrong word type).
editing. citations. Some errors in page
Key Focus Area Yes No Teacher commendations / suggestions
“Cited pages at end of sentence”(45).
Connected analysis back to topic
Clearly proofread out loud
Name:________________________ Topic:_________________________ Per:______
Nonfiction Navigator Rubric
Evidence and Has a clear statement Contains a good Response is not Incomplete, or
analysis about article’s statement entirely clear. response is too
Reads and connection to text. connecting the May lack a central inaccurate / brief
Comprehends a Uses direct evidence article to the text. statement. May to demonstrate
Variety of Grade (quotations) from both Has a mix of direct not contain any understanding.
Level Texts UTPT and the article to quotation and direct evidence, or
support the statement. paraphrase in offers evidence
Analysis makes support. Analysis with no analysis.
insightful connections accurately connects
between the article and the article to the
the story – well story.
Author’s Intent Statement of authorial Statement of Statement of Statement of
intent is accurate and authorial intent is authorial intent authorial intent is
Analyzes the insightful, and analysis accurate and, and may have some unclear. There is
elements of of evidence is analysis of inaccuracies or is little to no
literature to thorough. You clearly evidence provides vague. Analysis of analysis. There
demonstrate articulate how your good explanation of evidence provides is no explanation
comprehension textual evidence proves how your textual some explanation of how your
your main point. evidence supports of how your textual evidence
your main point. textual evidence supports your
supports your main point.
Documentation Bibliography is Bibliography may Bibliography has Bibliography is
Understands and documented using have one minor errors that detract not formatted
applies research MLA format with no error in formatting, from accuracy of according to
skills errors. Excellent. but is accurate entry. MLA.
Grammar, Varied sentence Sentences are of Errors in sentence Errors in
Usage beginnings and varied varying length, structure, spelling sentence
Mechanics sentence lengths. All most words spelled and/ or incorrect structure,
Uses standard words spelled correctly, correctly, good usage of spelling,
English correct use of punctuation & punctuation & punctuation or
conventions punctuation and capitalization. capitalization are grammar make
capitalization rules. Basic transitions. distracting to the writing difficult
reader. to understand.
Personal Success Planning Sheet
Days _______________ My Role This Week_______________________
Date In Class Goals At Home Goals
Group Meeting Sign-up – WEEK 4
Your group is required to meet with me one time this week – sometime between Wednesday and
Friday. Discuss this with your group and then sign up for an available slot on this sheet.
Put your name (the name of one member of your group) in ONE BOX for your period, on the day
you wish to meet with me. Only ONE group can sign up in EACH box. Once you do so, make sure
you have written down your meeting time in your planner!
Day Per G Per O Per L Per D