ALEX Lesson Plan

Do You See What I See? Asian or American

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Shonterrius Lawson-Fountain
System: Midfield City
School: Midfield City Board Of Education
The event this resource created for:CCRS
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33073


Do You See What I See? Asian or American


Interactive unit that encourages students to evaluate the effect of the inclusion of figurative language in Amy Tan’s nonfiction narrative essay Fish Cheeks paired with the poem Face It by Janet Wong. This lesson will assist students in understanding the power of language. Students will be compelled to write by the conclusion of this lesson.

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
41 ) Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. [L.6.5]

a. Interpret figures of speech (e.g., personification) in context. [L.6.5a]

b. Use the relationship between particular words (e.g., cause/effect, part/whole, item/category) to better understand each of the words. [L.6.5b]

c. Distinguish among the connotations (associations) of words with similar denotations (definitions) (e.g., stingy, scrimping, economical, unwasteful, thrifty). [L.6.5c]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.6.41- Identify the meaning of figurative language in context.
ELA.AAS.6.41a- Demonstrate understanding of simple and/or various forms of figurative language.
ELA.AAS.6.41b- Identify the relationship between words.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 7
18 ) Analyze how two or more authors writing about the same topic shape their presentations of key information by emphasizing different evidence or advancing different interpretations of facts. [RI.7.9]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 7
23 ) Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 20-22 above.) [W.7.4]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 7
40 ) Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. [L.7.5]

a. Interpret figures of speech (e.g., literary, biblical, and mythological allusions) in context. [L.7.5a]

b. Use the relationship between particular words (e.g., synonym/antonym, analogy) to better understand each of the words. [L.7.5b]

c. Distinguish among the connotations (associations) of words with similar denotations (definitions) (e.g., refined, respectful, polite, diplomatic, condescending). [L.7.5c]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 8
40 ) Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. [L.8.5]

a. Interpret figures of speech (e.g. verbal irony, puns) in context. [L.8.5a]

b. Use the relationship between particular words to better understand each of the words. [L.8.5b]

c. Distinguish among the connotations (associations) of words with similar denotations (definitions) (e.g., bullheaded, willful, firm, persistent, resolute). [L.8.5c]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.8.40- Determine the meaning of figurative language in context.
ELA.AAS.8.40a- Identify the meaning of a simile or metaphor.
ELA.AAS.8.40b- Identify the relationship between particular words (e.g., part/whole, item/category).

Local/National Standards:


1. Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world to acquire new information, to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features.

12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g. for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and exchange of information). 

Primary Learning Objective(s):

  1. I can identify and explain how the use of figurative language creates images and emphasizes the central idea presented in the texts.
  2. I can identify literary devices used by Amy Tan and their effect on the central idea presented in Fish Cheeks using a Makes Sense Graphic Organizer.
  3. I can compare and contrast each authors ‘perspective on culture.
  4. I can compose a self-portrait using the “I am” framework to include effective use of imagery and figures of speech.  

Additional Learning Objective(s):

  1. I can draw conclusions about the effects of Americanism based on information explicitly presented in the text.
  2. I can appreciate the value that lies in other cultures. 
  3. I can identfiy situational irony.
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Ruled Index Cards, Copy of Fish Cheeks text to distribute or project, Pen or pencil, Paper, Chart paper or Board, Graphic organizer, CD player or other audio device, speakers, projector (optional), Coding Symbols Guide, Close Reading Guide, Cubes  



Technology Resources Needed:

Projector, Computer with Internet access



Teacher needs to test website links.

Teacher needs to review the song Black or White by Michael Jackson.

Teacher needs to chunk the text Cultural Food Profile.


Students should be able to differentiate between the types of figurative language - simile, irony, personification, and hyperbole.

Students should be able to differentiate first from third person point of view.

Students should be familiar with the Turn & Talk strategy.


Day 1: Do you celebrate or hide your differences?

1. Allow students three to five minutes to conduct two peer interviews with peers outside of their group using the question above. Distribute ruled standard-sized index cards to each student. On the front of the index card, students should record details from their conversation that stood out, made them think, etc. After the completion of the interviews, students should return to their desk and on the back of their index card reflect on their conversation by thinking about experiences they share. (Facilitate during this time.)

2. The teacher may now reconvene the whole class to solicit two student responses. Use this to introduce students to renowned author Amy Tan who learned to appreciate her differences using the profile found on her website.

3. Print the article so that students have a hard copy to code (

4. As you read it aloud, ask students to listen for and record information that will assist them in understanding Tan's motivation as a writer. As you read, pause frequently to give students an opportunity to record their thoughts.

5. Closing: Allow students to take a close look at the Influences section. Have them decide on one that stands out and then turn and talk within their groups about the possible effects of their chosen influence.

Day 2:

1. Ask students to reflect on what they learned about Amy Tan and think of one word to describe her and use that word in a sentence of no more than seven words to create a visual. This should spark creativity in word choice. This activity can be used to review figurative language, specifically, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, similes, and imagery.

2. Show the Figurative language video. (See link.)

3. Reconvene and allow students to participate in a four corners activity. Complete a knowledge rating of the word custom. Have students rate their knowledge using the following keys:

Thumbs up - I know it and can explain it to someone else

Thumbs to the side - Aware, but need a little clarification

Thumbs down - Tell me what it means, please.

This will assist students in understanding the idea of Americanism later on in the lesson.

4. Ask students if they have ever felt embarrassed because of customs. Assign the following labels to a corner in your room: never, daily, only on holidays.

5. Distribute the Fish Cheeks Chunked Text (See attachments.)

6. The teacher will tell students that they will be reading aloud using the Popcorn method. With the popcorn reading method, you select the first reader to read aloud a chunk of text, then that person may select someone else to read, and the cycle continues until the conclusion of the text. Pause after each chunk to allow students to write down or illustrate what they see if applicable.

7. At the conclusion of the reading, allow students to turn and talk in their groups to share their reactions to the menu.

8. Distribute the graphic organizer and explain to students how to use it. Complete as a whole class the top section that asks them to identify types of devices they observed during reading. Now, allow students to locate evidence of the use of figurative language in the text and explain its effect on their interpretation.

9. Closing: On the back of your graphic organizer, describe the effects of Americanism on Amy Tan as an adolescent and teen.

Day 3:

1. Entrance Pass: Ask students to answer the following questions independently.

  • Why did the author want a slim new American nose for Christmas?
  • Why did the author cry when she learned that the minister’s family would attend Christmas Eve dinner?
  • What did the author want Robert to think of her and her family?

2. Now, introduce the word Americanism to students by having them make a list of American practices within their groups. Solicit student responses aloud and after three, tell students that they have defined Americanism in their own words before presenting the denotative definition.

3. Re-distribute copies of the text for students to reference during discussion. Students will take a close look at how Tan's writing style affects your interpretation.

4. Before questioning, provide each group with a sheet of chart paper that they will use to write down questions they wish to pose to the class concerning Tan's use of figurative language, the subject, the theme presented, or any other related topic. Give students no more than seven minutes to pose their questions and post their chart paper on the wall, board, etc.

5. Use the students’ questions along with the ones below to assist them in focusing on how language and the author’s style emphasize the ideas they present. You may use the questions below to prompt student thinking.

  • What is the significant event that will be occurring this Christmas?
  • When the guests arrive, why does the author pretend that Robert is not worthy of existence?
  • In your opinion, what is the climax in this story?
  • What do you believe to be the MOST embarrassing experience for the author in this story? Why did you select this experience? [Turn & Talk to your right shoulder partner]
  • What gift does Amy receive from her mother? Was her reaction to the gift expected?
  • What does the gift reveal about the mother?
  • Analyze the mother’s overall decision in selecting a Chinese menu for Christmas dinner instead of a more American style menu for the meal. If she understood how her daughter felt, and wanted her daughter to know that she understood, for what reasons do you feel she opted for a Chinese dinner?

6. Closing: Write a response to the following question: Is the title appropriate for the central idea presented in the text? Cite text evidence.

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Assessment Strategies


Teacher observation; Student response to questioning


Successful completion of Graphic Organizer (See attachment.)

Students will complete an I Am poem using the template from They must effectively use of figurative language and include at least one example of each of the following literary devices: hyperbole, simile, metaphor, and onomatopoeia.


Allow students to write an exposition on the importance of accepting their cultural differences. 

Allow student to introduce to the class one of their cultural traditions that is appropriate for the academic setting. This will help build community and help them understand the importance of respecting others. 


You may wish to show the Flocabulary Figurative Language video and discuss the printed transcript for those students who still have difficulty identifying figurative language.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.