Language Arts Teachers Bring Innovation to Teaching The House on Mango Street

After reading Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street with their eighth grade language arts students, Ms. Ferguson and Ms. Mullin collaborated on how to creatively get students to connect with the themes of the novel. They opted not to have students go the traditional route by simply answering a series of questions about what happens in the book.

In Ms. Ferguson’s classroom, an inner circle of students listened to each other, waiting their turn to respond to questions and build on each others’ ideas. Meanwhile, an outer circle of students took notes on what they heard. Soon it would become their time to become the inner discussion circle for questions about themes connected to the novel.

“In the Socratic Seminar, I liked how we were able to hear other students’ opinions,” Michelle Atkins said. “It gave us a chance to expand the way we think and how others think as well.”

Participating in the Socratic Seminar made some students feel incredible when it came to sharing their thoughts and feelings.

“What I liked best was that even if you’re just talking to your classmates, you feel like a lawyer,” Jovanna Araujo said. “The feeling of standing up for people and their rights feels incredible.”

Many of Ms. Ferguson’s students enjoyed expressing their opinions.

“The best thing I liked about the Socratic Seminar was getting to express my personal opinions about the topic because I got to tell what I thought and felt about it,” Dejay Phatthong said.

In Ms. Mullin’s classroom, students participated in a Quote Carousel. The class divided into two groups. Each person received a different quote from The House on Mango Street. While Group A partnered up to stand and discuss the meaning of the quote and which universal theme it fit in to, Group B sat and independently reflected on the quote and formed connections to it.

“My favorite part of the Quote Carousel was discussing how the quotes improved the story and the impact it had on characters in The House on Mango Street,” Justin Maymoundok said.

Many students thought that this was a great experience of learning more about the book. They enjoyed working with each other and hearing each others’ opinions.

“We got to discuss our opinions and share our ideas,” Amber Keomany said. “Although some parts were confusing, we worked it out, and it was fun. I enjoyed listening to my partner’s connections.”

Others said that talking to each other and moving around made the activity fun.

“What I really liked about the Quote Carousel Activity was working with different partners because we got to share our ideas with other people,” Eric Picazo said.