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"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" Close-Reading: Making Text-to-Art Connections

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Language Arts And English +2 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

The selected artwork and learning lab collection offers a historical approach to the transformation of Native Americans into white culture and society. It serves as a purpose to provoke discussion on the historical context of the Indian Removal Act, and gives students an understanding of the main character’s (from the novel "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) “modern day” internal conflict of erasing or eliminating his Native American culture to immerse into the lifestyle of a white teenager in a predominately white school.

As an introductory activity, students will engage in the see/think/wonder methodology to infer the artists’ purpose for the artwork. This initial activity will help scaffold students’ prior understanding and knowledge of the historical context of Native American history and the forced immersion into white culture. Therefore, after students have had ample time of using visual understanding skills to interpret the artwork, students can explore a “modern-day version” of Sherman Alexie’s image that showcases a juxtaposition of the main character’s internal identity conflict.Similar to the artwork, students will engage in the "connect, extend, and challenge" thinking activity. Students will make connections to the text and real-world connections as a culminating task. Lastly, students will discuss how it extended their thinking and a remaining challenge or wonder students still have. Using their remaining questions, this could lead to several extension activities.

Students can explore other Native American artwork in the learning lab, students can also use the "unveiling stories" strategy to learn more about the Carlisle school. The history of the Carlisle school connects and relates with the novel by adding historical context. Lastly, students can engage in teacher-made or student-made gallery walks using other Native American artwork or imagery to support the reading process of the paired text.