LESSON

‘Bibi’ Lesson 3: The Power of Letter Writing: Enhancing Communication and Understanding

In this third and final lesson on the film ‘Bibi,’ students will write a letter to Ernesto explaining the concepts of intersectionality, privilege and oppression.
Grade Level

Objectives
  • Explain how letter writing can be a tool to enhance communication and understanding.
Essential Questions
  • What is the power of letter writing?
Materials
  • T-charts from Lesson 2 (on chart paper)
  • Discussion notes from Lesson 2 (on chart paper)
  • Writing Handout 
  • Sticky notes

Procedure

  1. To begin, communicate the essential question and objective. 
  2. Tell students that they will start to meet this goal by first discussing letter writing in “Bibi.” Lead a whole-class discussion with the following questions.
    • Why did Bibi and Ernesto write letters? Answers might include the fact that Bibi’s mother wrote a letter to Bibi, and after she passed, Ernesto continued the tradition. In the aftermath of her death, letter writing allowed Bibi and Ernesto to establish a channel of communication. Through this channel, Bibi and Ernesto were able to broach difficult topics, such as puberty and coming out. In a society that tells boys that they shouldn’t express their feelings, letter writing allowed Bibi and Ernesto to bypass gender stereotypes, convey understanding and seek forgiveness.
    • How did using letters as a way to communicate help Ernesto and Bibi’s relationship? How might it have hurt their relationship? In general, letter writing enhanced their communication and likely strengthened their relationship. Writing letters allows the reader space to process their feelings and time to create a response, as opposed to verbal communication that requires an immediate response. Nevertheless, honest communication, as facilitated by letter writing, hurt their relationship when Bibi came out and Ernesto rejected him. Further complicating Ernesto’s reaction was probably the fact that the letter was delivered in person, requiring an immediate response, and that Bibi’s boyfriend was present. At one point, Ernesto speculated about whether or not the letter writing itself led to Bibi’s sexual orientation. 
    • Call on different students until the class reaches a comprehensive understanding. As students share their thoughts, take notes on the board.
  3. After the discussion, have students build on these ideas by writing letters to Ernesto that explain the concept of intersectionality. 
    • Explain to students that they will write a letter to Ernesto from their own perspective, not Bibi’s. In the letter, they’ll explain intersectionality and how it relates to privilege and oppression. Tell students their explanations should include facts, details, definitions and other relevant information to best help Ernesto understand. 
    • To scaffold writing, post the T-chart from Lesson 2 and review the class’s work. Ask students what they can recall regarding how certain identity characteristics can intersect to create unique forms of privilege and oppression. Have students also consider what they remember about Ernesto’s knowledge of these topics and details to decide which would be most relevant.
    • Tell students to keep this review in mind as they write their letters and have them begin. Provide students with the Writing Handout. Let students know that their letters will be read by others in the class.
    • As students write, circulate to make sure they are providing comprehensive explanations. Provide positive and constructive feedback. 
  4. Once students are finished, have them conduct a gallery walk to provide feedback to their peers. 
    • Ask students to display their letters at their desks with everything else cleared off. Distribute three sticky notes to each student. 
    • Tell students that they will walk around the class to find a letter that they want to read. Once there, they will read the letter and give feedback using two sticky notes. On the first sticky note they will write a quote they liked and explain why they chose it. On the second sticky note they will ask the writer a question. 
    • Give an example of sticky note feedback on the board. 
      • One quote I love is _____. I love this quote because _____. 
      • One question I have reading this letter is _____. 
    • Have students begin the gallery walk. Tell them that when they run out of sticky notes, they should return to their desk and have a seat. As they wait for their classmates to finish, they should start reading their feedback. 
  5. Exit Ticket: have students answer the essential question with a think-pair-share discussion. 
    • Have students answer the essential question on a scrap piece of paper. What is the power of letter writing? Ask students to cite evidence from the film, class discussions, or letters to Ernesto. 
    • Have students take turns sharing out responses in pairs. 
    • Extend share out to the whole class. Call on pairs to share answers. 

Alignment to Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6-12.2.B

Extension Activity

Have students list the ways that they might experience oppression or privilege due to their own identities. Have students use the T-chart handout and write a summary synthesizing the ways their identities intersect to create unique experiences.

Alternatively, if students would rather not discuss their own identities, have them identify examples of intersectionality that they have observed at school or out in their community. Have students write a summary of these examples, without naming names.  

End by having students share their ideas in class. Discuss implications. Why should we be aware of our privilege? What can we do to avoid oppressing others? 

 

Written by S. Nevarez

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