Expository reading and writing course

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The California State University

Task Force on Expository Reading and Writing
The American Dream for Illegal Immigrants:

The role of education

ELA 9th & 10th






  • Getting Ready to Read

  • Introducing Key Concepts

  • Surveying the Text

  • Making Predictions and Asking Questions

  • Introducing Key Vocabulary

9th/10th Grade ELA Standards: Writing Applications

2.1 Write autobiographical narratives

  1. Relate a sequence of events and communicate the significance of the events to the audience.

Getting Ready to Read (DAY 1)

Activity 1:

Before the class begins to read, lead the class in a discussion on the following questions:

1. Describe the “American Dream”.

2. What is the American Dream for you?

3. Is the American Dream still attainable for you?

Quick write:

(10 min) How is the American Dream different for illegal immigrants? Please explain your answer. Have a class discussion.

Activity 2:

Watch the PBS Video and write a reaction.

9th/10th Grade ELA Standards:

Word Analysis, Fluency, and Systematic Vocabulary Development

1.0 Students apply their knowledge of word origins to determine the meaning of new words encountered in reading materials and use those words accurately.

Introducing Key Concepts

This module on the American Dream and whether that dream is different for migrant farmworkers. This module introduces a historical fictional tale of a young boy and his family, who are migrant farmworkers in Francisco Jimenez’s The Circuit. In addition, the article from The Economist, “Fields of Tears,” documents the life of the Vega family as they live the migrant farm worker life, which parallels John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. In addition, an article from The Los Angeles Times, “Brown Signs California Dream Act” describes the most recent legislation with regards to the fate of undocumented students and higher education, and lastly, an article from The Ventura County Star, “A Wake-up call on the Dream Act”.

American Dream:

The traditional social ideals of the United States, such as equality, democracy and material prosperity.

Undocumented Immigrant:

A foreign-born person who lacks a right to be in the United States, having either entered without inspection (and not subsequently obtained any right to remain) or stayed beyond the expiration date of a visa or other status.. (nolo.com)- Dictionary of Law Terms

Migrant farm worker:

A farm laborer who moves around for work seasonally.

Activity 3:

Have the students participate in understanding connotation/ denotation with the concepts listed above. You may want to ask the students the following questions:

  1. Have students create a connotative/ denotative table:




Each word has the denotative meaning (dictionary meaning) listed; now, describe any connotative meanings that each word may possess.

2. Have students write down the denotative meaning of each term in its corresponding area.

3. Allow student discussion for the connotative section.

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