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Created by Kelly Quintero
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Usage and Mechanics Providing Feedback on Student Writing Learning from Professional Writers Writing in the 21st Century
Aim: To explore culture and personal identity through our name stories.

Motivation: What does a name say about a person? If you could change your name to anything, what would it be?

Presentation:
  1. Read Sandra Cisneros’s “My Name” and take notes.
  2. Content – Discuss cultural issues inherent to her name.
    * Is this story really about a name?

    1. Linguistic dichotomy — English/Spanish
      * How does the fact that the story is written in English emphasize the “language politics” of a nine-year-old girl?

    2. Gender expectations — weak women who must marry
      *What is the speaker’s purpose in revealing the reality of the women in her family?
      *Does Esperanza have the power to really baptize herself and become a different category of “woman”? Is Zeze the X gender neutral?

    3. Cultural hybridity — “Mexican,” “American,” “Chinese”
      *To which culture does the speaker belong?

    4. Legacy — inheriting grandma’s place by the window
      *Is there evidence that Esperanza has already inherited this place?

    5. Private/public self — sister can be Nenny ay home; Esperanza wants to have a “stage name” like “Zeze the X.”
      * Is the name part of the public or the private self?

    6. Cultural nostalgia — father’s “sobbing” songs; “and the story goes she never forgave him”
      *How does the “fogginess” of these memories make the story more or less believable?

  3. Craft — Discuss how Cisneros conveys these meanings.
    *How does the craft transform potential “tangents” into essential descriptors?

    1. Sentence variety (“a muddy color” masquerades as a complete sentence)

    2. Voice (she weaves between the voice of a child and a wistful adult)

    3. Sensory images (songs like sobbing; women sitting their sadness on an elbow; soft vs. thick names)

    4. Figurative language (grandma is a chandelier; tin syllables)

    5. Lapses into pretend dialogue (yes — Zeze the X will do)
Guided practice:   Draft your own name story. Use it to tell about your culture. Try to use some of the techniques employed by Cisneros.

Closure: Share name story drafts in small groups or as a whole class.

Look at a sample “name” essay.

View as PDF

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