YAL - Young Adult Literature Presenter Unit 2008/2009



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The Absolutely True Diary of a Park-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie


This book was presented at YAL & has a teacher created unit.

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YAL Presenter Unit 2008/2009

Subjects: English
Grade Level: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Posted: 2008
Unit Created by: Susan Garr and David Sperling


See also Units for Books (Pre CCSS)

What makes this a good YAL choice...

As middle school and high school educators, we want to see our students fall in love with reading, and become life-long learners. We want them to be active learners and develop intellectual curiosity. At the same time, we know that our students come to us at a variety of reading levels and experiences. When I was teaching 9th grade English, I had many students who never experienced finishing a novel on their own. They did not identify themselves as readers or learners. Their only reading experiences came from a textbook or anthology. I knew my mission was to intentionally influence the way they viewed reading by exposing them to “really good books.” These books must convey the message that reading is worth our time and effort. The book needs to be so engaging that it challenges students to reconsider their relationship with reading. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is this type of text. Not only does the book tell a great story that makes you laugh and cry, it offers the opportunity to uncover necessary themes that adolescents need to confront: Identity, conflict, survival and loss.


The Absolutely True Diary of a Park-Time Indian fits perfectly into the beginning of the year curriculum because it shares the story of a young boy transitioning into 9th grade. The story provides both a window and a mirror for the students to consider and discuss the intensity of the struggle to belong, make and keep friends, deal with death, as well as navigate the realities of high school life. This book shares the emotional truth of a teenager who is forced to confront the big ideas of adolescents: Who am I? Where to I belong? How does community shape who I am and how I view myself? Using this book invites classroom conversations about deeper issues that surround these big questions. When readers see themselves and their struggles in the story, they connect more with reading. The more students connect with reading, the more they will read and the more they will identify as a reader. The Absolutely True Diary of a Park-Time Indian is a gateway book that turns reading “on” for our reluctant readers. Although the book has been banned from some school districts in the United States because of language and mature themes, I feel these aspects make the story more realistic and provide motivation for our students to fall in love with the book. Learning strategies that I have used with this book are journaling, annotating text, text connections, cartooning, double entry journals and student-led inquiry — Susan Garr


YAL Conference Workshop Description
Exploring Truth through Fiction: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Susan Garr and David Sperling, Presenters

In Sherman Alexie’s novel, Arnold Spirit, a goofy-looking dork with a decent jump shot, laments life on the “poor-ass” Spokane Indian reservation. Arnold switches to a rich white school and becomes as much an outcast in his own community as he is a curiosity in his new one. Teens looking for the strength to lift themselves out of rough situations would do well to start here. In this session, we will model strategies and activities that support students’ ability to make meaningful connections to text and explore themes including identity and culture clash. Opportunities to integrate technology will be included in all parts of this workshop, and you’ll leave with an artifact and a unit plan that includes the technology activities and reading and writing strategies used in this session. — Workshop Description for YAL 2008


Units for Books


Subjects: English Literature
Grade Level: 9th
Posted: 2017, CCSS, Common Core State Standards


The Power of Stories

Unit by Senn High School, Madeline Kobayashi


Unit Template


Unit Lesson Plan


Unit Calendar


This unit was created for Literature Circles and includes the following books:


The Circuit

by Francisco Jiménez


Silver People

by Margarita Engle


Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White

by Lila Quintero Weaver


Brown Girl Dreaming

by Jacqueline Woodson


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

by Sherman Alexie



by Marjane Satrapi


I am Malala

Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb



Units for Books (Pre CCSS)

Foreman High School Unit - Videos


World Language High School Unit