My fifth grade students will complete a novel study about Peak by Roland Smith. This novel is about a boy named Peak who attempts to be the youngest person to climb Mount Everest. Peak leaves New York City for Kathmandu, Nepal, and begins the long trek up the mountain. In addition to practicing reading strategies and analyzing literary devices, my students will learn about the life of Nepalese Sherpas, the struggle between Tibet and China, and the perils of climbing the world’s tallest mountain. My sixth grade students study world leaders through literature. Our second unit of study is Gandhi. First, students read a biography of Gandhi and learn about the Indian culture, religions, language, and caste system. Then, we read the novel Keeping Corner by Kashmira Seth. The novel about a young girl named Leela who is in the Brahman caste. She suddenly becomes widowed and is forced to stay in her home and “keep corner” for a year. While in seclusion, she learns about Gandhi and how he is fighting for the rights of women and to eliminate the caste system. During the novel, we will learn more about the Hindu god Ganesh and the goddess Lakshmi. Students will make a Rangoli design like the characters did to celebrate Diwali. In 2010, I started an International Night at my school. I will add the countries of India and Nepal to this night. I will create displays with my students based on our units of study. My goal is to bring in someone to apply mehndi on the students’ hands and someone to teach Hindi lessons.
I will research important places in Kathmandu as well significant places in Gandhi’s life. I will read more about the current state of the caste system in India. I plan to read memoirs and novels set in Nepal and India to help me better understand the culture. I will buy a Hindi phrase book and an app for my tablet to practice basic phrases.
Preparation During Travel
To enrich my Gandhi unit, I will visit sites important to Gandhi’s life such as the Gandhi Smriti in New Delhi where he spent the last days of his life. I will ask my guide for more information about the Hindu religion, the caste system, and Nepal’s views of Tibet. I would like see a traditional dance or musical performance. Whenever I get a chance, I will read local newspapers to find out more information about current events in both countries. To share one way women celebrate religious festivals or weddings, I will try to get mehndi on my hands and videotape the process. My students always enjoy seeing foreign currency so I will save Nepalese and Indian coins and bills. Since I will have a few extra days in Kathmandu, I will plan a trip to Mount Everest so I can give my students more background knowledge. Postcards of famous sites, Hindu gods/goddesses, and Mount Everest’s base camps and summit will help my students visualize important events in the novels so I will be on the look out to purchase as many as possible. Finally, I will take many photos and videos to share what I see and learn with my students.