9th Grade Freshman English
(10 minutes) Begin class with a pre-assignment before reading “Barbie-Q” asking each student to write down ten things that he or she is thankful for including at least two personal values that have been instilled in them.
(30 minutes) Read “Barbie-Q” together as a class taking turns reading out loud. Participation points will be lost for not having you textbook in class.
(15 minutes) Discuss “Barbie-Q” together as a class.
What did you take away from this story?
Did you connect with this story?
Why do you think that the author chose to add so much detail?
“Ones man trash is another mans treasure.” Do you feel like this applies to this story?
Does this story focus on being materialistic?
4. (10 minutes) Post-assignment, after reading “Barbie-Q” do you feel like you are thankful for different things?
5. For homework draw your own detailed doll. This will be taken up for a daily homework grade the following day.
Each student will be asked to explain his or her drawing and why they chose what they did.
I chose to do a lesson plan because I wanted to see what it would be like to actually plan out a class. I am a Business major and my mom is a teacher so I was naturally interested in this because I have grown up around teaching, although I will never use this lesson plan for a classroom setting I may one day be teaching seminars and have to write a guide. Thist is unlike any other planning assignment I have ever done. I feel like I accurately mapped out how an English teacher may map out her class to teach a short story like “Barbie-Q.” I first begin asking the class to write down ten things that they are thankful for. I chose to to read the story out loud as a class to keep all the students interested and follow the reading with a discussion of the story. If I were going to be a teacher I would want to know if my students actually felt like they could connect to the story we were reading. I think if you can connect to it you tend to have more interest in it. Asking what stood out is a way to engage the class and gather different ideas because one person may think one think is more important than others. After reading and discussing I asked everyone to re-evaluate what they were thankful for, seeing if anyones list changed. Finally I added that each student would draw or color either a doll or outfit that would correctly depict the descriptions of the dolls that are described in the story. This is a fun way to interact between the story and the the student. It would be fun and interesting way to see just how each student would depict a doll from the story. I would like to see how differently each doll would look and how they would explain why they drew what they drew. This was honestly one of the most engaging projects I have done because I had to think of more than just the end result being a paper. The end result would theoretically be teaching a classroom full of kids.
Kids are most influenced by the people around them, even if they don’t like them. As a child growing up we don’t like our teachers, our parents annoy us or embarrass us and our friends get us into trouble. But looking back at my past the lessons I learned the most from were lessons that were taught to me by my teachers and my parents.
“The Lesson” is a short story about a group of young kids that all live together in an apartment complex in New York written by Toni Cade Bambara. The kids are all from families that seem to be somewhat low income as this reflects in their use of language throughout the story. Bambara writes, “Back in the days when everyone was old and stupid or young and foolish and me and Sugar were the only ones just right, this old lady moved on our block with nappy hair and proper speech and no makeup.” (55) This quote begins to set you (the reader) up for the entire story. Miss Moore was the older lady that moved into the apartment complex that the children lived in with their families, she was a college graduate and felt that it was her duty to help these kids learn and teach them things they needed to know. Sylvia, the narrator of the story begins to let us know her thoughts on Miss Moore early on in the beginning of the short story; “Miss Moore was her name. The only woman on the block with no first name. And she was black as hell, cept for her feet, which were fish-white and spooky” (55) “Brownies” is a short story written by ZZ Packers, it is a story about girl scouts at summer camp. The girls in the troop have decided that they don’t like the girls from troop 909 and claim that “they smell like Chihuahuas, wet Chihuahuas” and that they are going to “kick their asses.” The main character of the story Arnetta, has much of the same attitude as Sylvia the main character from “The Lesson”. “Mrs. Margolin, even looked like a mother duck- she had hair cropped close to a small ball of a head, almost no neck and huge, miraculous breasts.” (740)
Miss Moore has decided that she is taking the kids from her neighborhood into the city for a day, she is taking them to a popular toy store to let them look around, she doesn’t buy for them nor do they buy things for themselves but by the end of the day the kids are starting to understand the point of this. “And Miss Moore asking us if we know what money is, like we a bunch of retards. I mean real money, she say like it’s only poker chips or monopoly papers we lay on the grocer.” (55) Miss Moore has begun to lecture the kids about money after asking this question which leads into “the lesson” behind the story, shortly after they catch a cab and ride into the city the group arrives at F.A .O Schwarz. “Can we steal? ‘Sugar asks’ very serious like she’s getting the ground rules.” (56) The kids begin to explore F.A.O Schwarz and are very surprised at the price tags on items there, like $300 for a microscope in the window or $480 for a paperweight and the $1,195 fiberglass sailboat. “ ‘Unbelievable,’ I hear myself say and am really stunned.” “Who’d pay all that when you can buy a sailboat set for a quarter at Pop’s, a tube of glue for a dime and a ball of string for eight cents?” (57)
Much of the beginning of the two stories are similar, the way the characters speak about the people around them. Their descriptions of both Miss Moore and Mrs. Margolin show similar characteristics. Both Miss Moore and Mrs. Margolin share the same views that it is their responsibility to teach these kids lessons in life. “But nature lessons where not Mrs. Margolin’s top priority. She saw the position of troop leader as an evangelical post.” (740) While their teaching styles are different the older women in the stories share a commonality.
Arnetta says “When you lived in the south suburbs of Atlanta it was easy to forget about whites. Whites were like those baby pigeons: real and existing, but rarely seen or thought about.” (741) The girls in “Brownies” remind me of the kids from “The Lesson”. They have never seen white people up close just like the kids in “The Lesson” had never been to F.A.O Schwarz and never saw such expensive toys before. These kids come from totally different places but they share almost the same experience, while the girls from troop 909 aren’t expensive toys and objects in a store window they are still new and interesting to look at like the toys at F.A.O Schwarz were for the kids in “The Lesson”.
In the end, both Sylvia and Arnetta learned life lessons. Sylvia learned lessons about money and working hard to get the things you want in life. She learned that it wouldn’t just get handed to her. The girls from “Brownies” including Arnetta learned that “when you have been made to feel bad for so long, you jump at the chance to do it to others.” The girls jumped at the opportunity to make the the white girls from Troop 909 feel bad just because they had their own unresolved issues. In the end the lessons that were learned were from teachers and parents.
Bambara, Cade Toni. “The Lesson.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2014. 55-59. Print.
Packer,ZZ. “Brownies.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2014.740-754. Print.
In Sandra Cisneros’ “Barbie-Q” you hear the accounts of a young girl and her sister explaining to the audience about their Barbie dolls in great detail along with the given details, it provides insight to the lifestyle that their family lives.
“Yours is the one with mean eyes and the ponytail. Striped swimsuit, stilettos, sunglasses, and gold hoop earrings.” (183). This is the first sentence of the short story “Barbie-Q” and already you see just how much attention to detail this young girl pays to her Barbie doll. As you go on reading this story and understanding it you quickly learn that this child comes from a home that isn’t as well off as others. “Because we don’t have money for a stupid-looking boy doll when we’d both rather ask for a new Barbie outfit next Christmas. We have to make do with your mean-eyed Barbie and my bubble-head Barbie and our one outfit apiece not including the sock dress.” (184). These few sentences really changed the entire story for me, it made me realize that these little girls pay such close attention to the details of their Barbies because it is all that they have.
As you continue to read this short story it takes a drastic turn and goes from a story that makes you feel sorry for these young girls to a story that make you feel happy. As the kids are walking along with their parents it makes you really understand the saying “ones man junk is another mans treasure”. At the flea market the girls spot an entire section of Barbie dolls, and Barbie’s cousins, Barbies’ best friend, Barbie’s boyfriend Ken along with accessories and much more. “Everybody today is selling toys, all of them damaged with water and smelling of smoke. Because a big toy warehouse on Halsted Street burned down yesterday – see there?- the smoke still rising and drifting across the Dan Ryan expressway.”(184).
Going back to the saying mentioned earlier in the above paragraph, this made me think of all the children that maybe found joy out of playing with all my old toys that have been donated to stores or taken to schools for daycare play rooms. I never looked at my situation this way until I read “Barbie-Q” and understood how a child will less can appreciate small things more. These girls were excited because they got a whole collection of new but slightly damaged Barbie dolls. “So what if our Barbies smell like smoke when you hold them up to your nose even after you wash and wash and wash them.” (184). They weren’t concerned with the fact that they smelled smokey or that Francie, Barbie’s cousin has a burnt left foot.
I have a feeling that these girls will love their new Barbies for as long as they are young enough to still play with them a lot more than a child that got a new Barbie every time they went to the toy store. I feel like I really related to this story, not that I grew up in a low income family but because I was a child that loved my toys, I had my Barbies and hot wheels and stuffed animals. I was always excited to get a new toy.
Cisneros, Sandra. “Barbie-Q” The Story and Its Writer. Compact 9th ed. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 183-84.