Common Core ELA Standards: RL.6.1, RL.6.2, RL.6.3, RL.6.4; W.6.1, W.6.4, W.6.9; SL.6.4; L.6.1, L.6.2, L.6.4, L.6.5
Preparing for Teaching
Read the Big Ideas and Key Understandings and the Synopsis. Please do not read this to the students. This is a description for teachers about the big ideas and key understanding that students should take away after completing this task.
Big Ideas and Key Understandings
Friends who trust and care for each other will weather any storm. There is a special interdependence between humans and animals.
Setting: a Polish village, late nineteenth century
This short story takes place during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Reuven is forced to sell Zlateh, the family goat, because business has been bad. He tells his oldest son, Aaron, to take Zlateh to town to sell Zlateh to Feyvel, the town butcher.On his way to the butcher, the weather takes a turn for the worse; Aaron and Zlateh get caught in a terrible snowstorm. Aaron worries that they may freeze to death but finds shelter in a haystack covered with snow. The two spend three days together in the warm, dry haystack and develop a deeper bond and interdependence.
Read the entire selection, keeping in mind the Big Ideas and Key Understandings.
Re-read the text while noting the stopping points for the Text Dependent Questions and teaching Tier II/academic vocabulary.
Students read the entire selection independently.
Teacher reads the text aloud while students follow along or students take turns reading aloud to each other. Depending on the text length and student need, the teacher may choose to read the full text or a passage aloud. For a particularly complex text, the teacher may choose to reverse the order of steps 1 and 2.
Students and teacher re-read the text while stopping to respond to and discussthe questions, continually returning to the text. A variety of methods can be used to structure the reading and discussion (i.e., whole class discussion, think-pair-share, independent written response, group work, etc.)
Text Dependent Questions
Reread page 482. Describe the setting. Why does Singer begin his short story this way? Keep in mind that the setting is not only the time and place of events, but also include specific factors, such as weather conditions, condition of crops, and landscape details.
The setting is Hanukkah time; it is winter in a small village. Usually there is snow on the ground, but this winter has been a mild one.
Due to the unusually dry weather, Reuven, the furrier, needs money for his family and decides to sell the family’s beloved goat. The setting at the onset of the story reveals it is unusually warm, “the sun shone most of the time”; normally the town was covered in snow, however “little snow had fallen”. “New grass sprouted” and the dry weather would make for a poor harvest.
Personification is when the author gives attributes of human qualities to an animal or thing. On page 483, how does Singer personify Zlateh, the goat? What impact does this have on the tone of the story?
Singer provides the reader with Zlateh’s possible thoughts as she is being lead to slaughter, “Where are you taking me?” The author continued by suggesting that Zlateh came to the conclusion that “a goat shouldn’t ask questions.”
By personifying the goat, the reader is able to relate to and feel empathy for it because of its humanistic qualities.
Cite evidence from pages 482-483 that reveals Zlateh’s loyalty towards Aaron and his family.
Aaron’s mother and sisters cried when they heard that Zlateh was going to be taken to the butcher.
“Zlateh stood patiently and good-natured as ever” when she was roped to be taken to the butcher.
“Zlateh trusted human beings. She knew that they always fed her and never did her any harm.”
She didn’t ask questions even though she had an uncomfortable feeling of where Aaron was taking her.
Reread page 483, paragraph 3 to page 484, paragraph 3. The details of the setting change as the pair moves out of the village. Describe the setting outside of the village. What new conflict(s) arise due to the change in setting?
The weather turns from sunny and warm to dark, cold and hail. The hail turns into snow and soon becomes a blizzard.
The duo is forced to find shelter and food. The change in the weather from warm to blizzard like conditions force the twosome to stray from the initial plan- to get Zlateh to the butcher. The concern shifts to survival for both Aaron and Zlateh.
Reread page 484. What does “penetrated” mean here? How does the word “penetrated” show the effects of the weather condition?
To penetrate something is to go right through it. The author uses the word “penetrated” to describe the immense intensity of the weather condition by stating that “The cold soon penetrated his quilted jacket.” It shows that the cold goes straight through the thick jacket he is wearing.
Explain how Zlateh’s relationship with Aaron changes throughout the short story as the setting changes. Use evidence from the story to support your response.
Page 483: Even when lead to be slaughtered, Zlateh had full
and complete trust in Aaron:
“Zlateh stood as patiently and good-natured as ever.”
“Zlateh trusted human beings. She knew that they always fed
her and never did her any harm.”
“…goat shouldn’t ask questions.”
Page 483-484: When there was a sudden change in weather for
the worst, Zlateh began to show some distrust and resistance:
Zlateh“look at Aaron in wonderment. Her mild eyes seemed to
ask, ‘Why are we out in such a storm?’”
“Stubbornly she anchored her cleft hooves in the earth and
bleated as if pleading to be taken home.”
“Zlateh’s bleating began to sound like crying. Those humans in
whom she had so much confidence had dragged her into a trap.
Page 484-485: After finding shelter in the large haystack, Zlateh
“regained her confidence in man.” because Aaron found her
food and shelter.:
Zlateh feed Aaron with her milk and “seemed eager to reward
Aaron for bringing her to a shelter whose very walls, floor, and
ceiling were made of food.”
“Her body gave forth an animal warmth, and Aaron cuddled up
days, Zlateh and Aaron develops and interdependence on each
other and they developed a deep love for one another.:
Aaron comes to love Zlateh not as a pet or farm animal, but
rather as a family member. On page 485, paragraph 2
“You can’t speak, but I know you understand. I need you and
you need me.”
“He had always loved Zlateh, but now she was like a sister.”
Page 486, paragraph 4 “in these three days he loved
her more and more”
On page 486, the author reveals how Aaron decides to resolve the conflict. How did the author use a change in setting, “By the third night the snow had stopped…” and “The sky became clear…”, to influence the way in which Aaron resolved the conflict?
Paragraph 2 “Aaron had decided in the haystack that he would never part with Zlateh.” The snowstorm causes Aaron and Zlateh to depend on one another. Aaron says Zlateh was “like a sister” he views the goat as his equal rather than he the master and Zlateh the pet. He realizes that he cannot sell her to the butcher and decides to take her back home.
How do you think Zlateh feels about returning home? Provide evidence from the text to support your response. (Page 486)
Zlateh is happy to be home. She visits with the children and responds with a “Maaaa” when Aaron asks whether she remembers their three days spent together.
Sequence the events in the story that lead Zlateh to “regain” her confidence in man again on page 484?
Regain means to get back something that was lost. On page 483, “Zlateh trusted human beings. She knew that they always fed her and never did her any harm,” even when Aaron lead her to the butcher.
When the weather changed from sunny to freezing cold, Zlateh started to question Aaron, “Why are we out in such a storm?”
“Zlateh’s bleating began to sound like crying. Those humans in whom she had so much confident had dragged her into a trap."
Aaron’s ability to find both food and shelter caused Zlateh to “regain” her confidence in man.
Tier II/Academic Vocabulary
These words require less time to learn
(They are concrete or describe an object/event/
process/characteristic that is familiar to students)
These words require more time to learn
(They are abstract, have multiple meanings, are a part
of a word family, or are likely to appear again in future texts)
In this short story, the author develops the theme of “trust” and “interdependence” based upon the changes of the setting. Produce a well-developed claim that cites three examples from the text that supports the interdependence and trust Aaron and Zlateh shared as a result of the setting changes.
Students identify their writing task from the prompt provided.
Students complete an evidence chart as a pre-writing activity. Teachers should remind students to use any relevant notes they compiled while reading and answering the text-dependent questions.
Quote or paraphrase
Elaboration / explanation of how this evidence supports ideas or argument
“the sun shone most of the time” “little snow had fallen” and the dry weather would make for a poor harvest.
The unusually warm weather forced the family to sell their beloved goat Zlateh so that they could buy food and gifts for Hanukkah.
Once students have completed the evidence chart, they should look back at the writing prompt in order to remind themselves what kind of response they are writing (i.e. expository, analytical, argumentative) and think about the evidence they found. (Depending on the grade level, teachers may want to review students’ evidence charts in some way to ensure accuracy.) From here, students should develop a specific thesis statement. This could be done independently, with a partner, small group, or the entire class. Consider directing students to the following sites to learn more about thesis statements: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/545/01/ OR http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/ thesis_statement.shtml.
Students compose a rough draft. With regard to grade level and student ability, teachers should decide how much scaffolding they will provide during this process (i.e. modeling, showing example pieces, sharing work as students go).
Students complete final draft.
In the short story, “Zlateh the Goat”, the author developed the theme of “trust” and “interdependence” that coincided with the changes of the setting. The main character, Aaron, comes to understand that he and Zlateh were almost like equals because they helped one another.
At the onset of the literary piece, the author described the setting to the reader. He revealed, “the sun shone most of the time” “little snow had fallen” and the dry weather would make for a poor harvest. Due to these weather conditions, the family was forced to take the family goat to the butcher. Aaronwas asked to take the beloved pet to the butcher. Aaron led her out to the road. The text says, “Zlateh trusted human beings. She knew that they always fed her and never did her any harm.” “She didn’t ask any questions even though she had an uncomfortable feeling of where Aaron was taking her.” This shows that Zlateh and Aaron have an established relationship built on trust.
As the plot progressed, a change in setting occurred, “Suddenly the weather changed. A large black cloud with a bluish center appeared.” The change in the setting foreshadowed a slight change in the relationship between the two characters. Zlateh’s feeling of mistrust is suddenly realized when “Zlateh’s bleating began to sound like crying. Those humans in whom she had so much confidence had dragged her into a trap.” These feelings soon subsided after Aaron found shelter and a food source in the haystack. Zlateh “regained her confidence in man.” Although Zlateh briefly felt doubt, she was reassured when Aaron, just as he always had, met her needs and cared for her.
The interdependence between the duo became more apparent as Aaron relied on Zlateh for his survival. Aaron found Zlateh food and shelter and in exchange Zlateh fed Aaron with her milk and “seemed eager to reward Aaron for bringing her to shelter.” Aaron also cuddled up to the warmth of Zlateh. As their time in the haystack continued, the bond between the boy and goat strengthened. Aaron said to Zlateh, “You can’t speak, but I know you understand. I need you and you need me.” The reader understood that during their time in the haystack, Aaron grew to love Zlateh more and more. The final setting change, “the sky became clear and the moon shone, casting silvery nets on the snow” revealed that the storm has passed. Aaron had to decide if he will continue the journey to the butcher or return home with Zlateh. Through the course of their time together, it is obvious that the pair shared a bond and that Zlateh was not merely a family pet, but rather a family member to the boy. “Aaron had decided in the haystack that he would never part with Zlateh.” Just as the weather had cleared, it was clear to Aaron that Zlateh was not only responsible for his survival but was as close to him as a sibling.
In the realistic fiction, “Zlateh the Goat” the main character, Aaron, and his pet goat, Zlateh, come to realize that their trust and interdependence is strengthened during their time together in the blizzard. This interdependence and trust is evident between people and animals today. Many families have pets and these animals become part of the family. In many cases in time of need, pets help their owners through depression, loneliness and even at times have been known to save their lives.
Grammar in context: comma usage with appositives and appositive phrases
Note: An appositive is a word or phrase that identifies or renames a noun or pronoun that comes right before it. An appositive phrase might be short, or it might be long and descriptive. It might even include a prepositional phrase that modifies the noun.
Directions: Rewrite the sentences using some or all of the information in parentheses to make an appositive phrase.
Example: (original) Hanukkah held no delight this year. (Hanukkah is a joyful holiday.)
(rewritten) Hanukkah, a joyful holiday, held no delight this year.
Practice sentences for students:
1. Aaron’s father talked of selling Zlateh. (Zlateh was the family pet.)
2. Feuvel had offered eight gulden. (Feuvel was a butcher from town.)
3. Aaron’s shelter was warm and dry. (It was a stack of sweet hay.)
1. Aaron’s father talked of selling Zlateh, the family pet.
2. Feuvel, a butcher from town, had offered eight gulden.
3. Aaron’s shelter, a stack of sweet hay, was warm and dry.
Explain the historical significance of Hanukkah. You may need to conduct research on the internet, visit a local library, or use you history textbook. Based upon your findings, why do you think Singer set his story during Hanukkah, a festival that celebrates a miracle and new beginning to the Jewish people?
The historical significance of Hanukkah is the story of the Maccabees, a small band of Jewish fighters who liberated the Land of Israel from the Syrian Greeks who occupied it. The victory over the Syrian Greeks was nothing short of a miracle. In addition to the win, Hanukkah celebrates the jar of oil that miraculously burned for eight days.
Answers may vary for the second part. He likely set the story during Hanukkah because that is a time when miracles can happen. It adds to the sense of hope that surrounds the holiday. By the end of the story, the reader, too, is left with feelings of hope and impossible situations being worked out.
Find and record three example of personification on page 486. Using the examples of personification you find on page 486, identify what is being personified and the human quality it is being given. Use the chart below to organize the information.
Example of Personification
Item Being Personified
“the wind wailed, first with one voice and then with many”
ability to wail and have a voice
“the moon shone, casting silvery nets on the snow”