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Esperanza’s World – Teachers Guide

Esperanza’s World – Teachers Guide


Esperanza Means Hope Synopsis

This historical fiction novel brings a realistic picture of a time period in Arizona and United States history when cultures clashed.  Esperanza is a courageous and imaginative Mexican American girl living in a frontier town of Tucson, Arizona in 1876. She tries to be a responsible young lady, but she and her little dog, Chica, always seem to be in trouble.  Esperanza’s dearest wish is to know what happened to her brother, Carlos, who, years earlier, was captured by Apache Indians.  Then, miraculously, U.S. soldiers locate Carlos, now a young man, and bring him back to the ranch.  But instead of the homecoming that Esperanza envisioned, Carlos is angry that he has been taken from his Apache family and he wants to return.  Esperanza’s father calls Carlos a traitor.  Can Esperanza find a way to understand her brother?  Or will she and Carlos be estranged forever?  Filled with vibrant characters, humor and adventure, this true-to-life story celebrates the cultures and lives of people who shaped the American Southwest.


Whole Class Reading Selection – Teacher-Led Instruction/Discussion

This approach allows the teacher to guide students through a study of the book.  An example introductory lesson is included in the online materials.

Literature Circles – Small Groups

Literature Circles, varying in size from 4 to 6 members, provide students with a small group opportunity to enhance their listening and speaking skills as they share thoughts and ideas about books.  Rotating roles provide opportunities for all students to participate in scheduled group meetings and to share what they have prepared for the group based on their role. 

  • Making Connections – Students use “Sticky Notes” to adhere to pages in the book they code as making connections to themselves, to other texts they have read or to the world situations: t-s (text-to-self), t-t (text-to-text) and t-w (text to world). This is an excellent strategy for students to use as they reflect and think about prior knowledge activated by an incident, theme or character in a new book. 
  • Click to see instructions
  • Click to see documents for Lit Circle participant roles

In the Literature Circle mode, students will select their own vocabulary words and discuss their understanding and comprehension of the story without the aid of teacher devised comprehension questions.  The teacher may still wish to use the introductory lesson one to introduce the book to the whole class.

There are 6 literature circle roles specifically designed for Esperanza Means Hope along with organizational materials online:

  1. Discussion Leader and Summarizer
  2. Figurative Language Specialist
  3. Word Definer
  4. Historian and Timeline Creator*
  5. Geographer and Place Locator
  6. Conflict and Character Organizer

* The teacher will need to start the wall or bulletin board timeline that student groups can then contribute to.  A title and form for the timeline is included in the online materials.

Related Lit Circle Book Options

Related books that would make excellent choices for literature circles include:

Native Americans

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell; Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski; Birchback House by Louise Erdrich; Owl in the Cedar Tree by N. Scott Momaday; Longwalker’s Journey: A Novel of the Choctaw Trail of Tears by Beatrice Harrell and Morning Girl by Michael Dorris.

Mexican-Americans (some current –day issues rather than historical ones)

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez; The Maldonado Miracle by Theodore Taylor; Meet Josephine: An American Girl by Valerie Tripp; I, Juan De Pareja by Elizabeth Trevino

Interest-Based Learning Centers

Student-centered, classroom learning centers,  contain multiple stations intended for reinforcement or enrichment of content or skills being studied.  Learning Centers are self-paced and independent-learning opportunities for students meant to motivate them to explore related topics of their choosing.  Ideally, students track their own progress and rotate to other stations in the learning center when ready to move on.  Readymade centers included in online materials include the following:

  1. Cicada Center
  2. Marble Center
  3. Peafowl Center
  4. Transportation Center
  5. Arizona Flora, Fauna and Ranching Center
  6. Early Tucson Center
  7. Military Forts Center
  8. Arizona Geography Center

  1. Conflicts over land (and its resources) often lead to war.
  2. Acts of revenge frequently cause continued violence, hatred and death.
  3. Individuals and groups across cultures and across time share similar needs and wants.
  4. Relationships between family members and relationships between groups within a community continue to change based on experiences.
  5. Hope represents an optimistic point-of-view basic to all people. 
  6. Girls often face limited expectations and opportunities due to cultural beliefs.
  7. A multicultural community can enrich all residents.

  1. What causes people to go to war with each other?
  2. Does revenge bring justice and solve problems?
  3. In what ways are all cultures similar?
  4. What causes relationships between people and between groups of people to change?
  5. How does “hope” play a role in changing viewpoints and actions?
  6. Why are acceptable behaviors for girls often limited?
  7. How do people of different cultures contribute to each other’s lives?

  1. From whose viewpoint are we seeing or reading or hearing?
  2. How are things, events, or people connected to each other?
  3. What is the cause and the effect?
  4. What’s new and what’s old? Have we run across this idea before?
  5. So what? Why does it matter? What does it all mean?

  1. Culture
  2. Time, Continuity and Change
  3. People, Places and Environment
  4. Individual Development and Identity
  5. Individuals, Groups and Institutions
  6. Power, Authority and Governance