Journey to Excellence

Experiential Instruction

Multidimensional Unit


Kathy McMath


Language Arts


Culture, Health & Well Being

Experiential Goal:

Students will create an album of those individuals who are special friends to them. The album will include photos or drawings of each friend, their names, and three to four sentences about each. Students will present one of these friends to the class.

Rationale: This unit is based on the story of Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco. (1992) This story serves as both a model and a catalyst for the students as they explore the theme of friendship. Mrs. Katz and Tush was chosen because it is above the actual developmental level of the students and therefore will challenge them to reach beyond their current abilities to acquire new concepts and structures. It is an authentic text which tells a real story that is interesting and relevant to the students; the characters and themes will resonate with the students' own experiences.

The daily reading of the story by the teacher is an integral part of the lessons. It is a technique which will help the children to grow in their comprehension of the story and their appreciation for the depth and beauty of a well-written story. Each day the story will be enjoyed as a whole and then broken down into parts for analysis. The formative evaluation checklist that the students fill in after each listening session is aimed at helping both the teacher and the students assess progress in listening comprehension skills. The points in the checklist serve not only as a means of assessment but perhaps more importantly as suggested strategies for the students to use for the next time they listen to the story.

The activities chosen are arranged so that there is a progression from comprehension to production, from personal experience to literary experience. Many of the activities are interactive in order to foster communication skills as well as friendships within the classroom environment. Students will be supported through the use of visuals, pictorial and teacher modeling.

It is hoped that students will not only increase in their English language skills as a result of this unit, but they will also become more open to the possibilities of new friendships that are not limited by age, appearance, race, sex, or culture.

Language Level:


Grade/Age Level:

Middle School, Grades 5 or 6

Lesson 1:

A Friendship Album Cover
Students will design a cover for their friendship album.

Lesson 2:

Mrs. Katz and Tush
Students will listen to the story of Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco (1992) (parts read daily throughout the unit).

Lesson 3:

Friendships We Have Experienced
Students will brainstorm using clusters to remember and consider all of the different friendships they have experienced.

Lesson 4:

Fun With Friends
Students will take turns miming and guessing activities they have done or like to do with friends.

Lesson 5:

The Characters' Feelings
Students will identify parts of the story that reveal the characters' feelings.

Lesson 6:

Our Own Feelings
Students will role play with a partner how they have felt since coming to Canada using story props.

Lesson 7:

Jewish Culture
Students will find examples of various aspects of the Jewish culture in the story.

Lesson 8:

Our Own Cultures
Students will demonstrate/explain one of the following aspects of their own culture: Food, Language, History, Song, Dance, Celebrations.

Lesson 9:

A Friendship Album
Students will make a friendship album.

Lesson 10:

Our Special Friends
Each student will present a special friend to the class.

Multidimensional Unit Goals


  • Students will explain what it means to be a friend.
  • Students will list activities they enjoy with friends.
  • Students will write a dialogue about how they have felt as a new-comer to Canada.
  • Students will tell about one aspect of their own culture.


  • Students will taste traditional Jewish food.
  • Students will make a two crafts from different cultures.
  • Students will listen to a variety of cultural experiences based on the choices of their classmates.
  • Students will appreciate that friendships are not limited by age, appearance, race, culture.


  • Students will name and use the titles of various family relationships.
  • Students will create and present a dialogue with a partner about their feelings of living in Canada.
  • Students will rephrase the expressions "such a person" and "such a life" to demonstrate the meaning of them.
  • Students will recognize and identify repetition in the story as a means to reveal themes.
  • Students will pronounce the "Sh" sound as they read it in different spellings.

Culture / Content:

  • Students will list five examples of the Jewish culture.
  • Students will make a Jewish Dreidel and Polish paper decorations.
  • Students will pose three questions that they would ask Mrs. Kattz or Larnel about their culture.
  • Students will compare one aspect of their own culture with a similar aspect of Canadian culture
  • Students will complete a peer evaluation that focuses on what they learned from their classmates' presentations and pose a question they may have about each other's culture.

General Language

  • Students will use listening, reading, writing, and speaking strategies to progress in target language.
  • Students will maintain an on-going listening comprehension checklist.
  • Students will recognize and appreciate the differences among their friends.


Summative Assessment Interview Guide (adapted from Making it Happen, p. 252)
  • Why does Larnel keep his promises to Mrs. Katz?
  • Mrs. Katz describes Larnel as being "almost family." What do you think she means?
  • Our friends are sometimes much older or younger than we are. For example, Mrs. Katz, an elderly woman, was Larnel's friend. Have you ever had a friend who was much older or younger than you? Tell me about your friend. Why do you think you became friends?
  • Mrs. Katz was very sad and lonely at the beginning of the story. Who or what do you think helped her the most?
  • What does it mean to be a good friend in the culture you know best?
  • What did you learn from this story? Has it changed the way you think about friendship?


  • Gagon, L., O'Donnell, J., Lipinski, C. (1999). Triple Loop 5. Quebec; Modulo.
  • Herrell, A.L. (2000). Fifty Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners. New Jersey; Prentice Hall.
  • Metrycki, B. (ED.) (1983). Multicultural Playground Manual. Alberta; Cultural Resources Centre, Calgary Parks/Recreation, Cultural Heritage Branch.
  • Patricia
  • Polacco, P. (1992). Mrs. Katz and Tush. New York; Bantam-Doubleday.
  • Rehorick, S., Dicks, J. (1993). Maritime Oral Communication Assessment Portfolio. Fredericton, NB: University of New Brunswick Second Language Education Centre.
  • Richard-Amato, P.A. (1990). Making it Happen. New York; Longman.
  • Second Languages Bulletin. (June 1990). National Core French Study Summary Report. The Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers.
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