Why We Love Teaching Sandra Cisneros in Middle School - EB Academics

Grab Your Free Writing Guide

Become an EB Insider Today

Why We Love Teaching Sandra Cisneros in Middle School

July 12, 2017 3 min read

It’s no secret that we LOVE to incorporate short stories into our middle school ELA curriculum (click here for our favorite short stories), and one of our favorite authors to study with our students is Sandra Cisneros. Below we outline why we think her writing style is so wonderful for meeting our ELA standards and why students enjoy her writing so much (win-win!)

Note: We use Cisneros’s short story “Eleven” as a summer reading assignment (which you can read about here) and an excerpt from The House on Mango Street, “My Name” with our middle schoolers. We teach The House on Mango Street in its entirety in 8th grade and find that exposing students to Cisneros’s signature style earlier on really helps them navigate her novel with a sharper lens when they are older.

So here we go … the three reasons incorporating Cisneros’ writing in our ELA curriculum is so effective:

Reason #1 – Close reading strategies can really be practiced and fine-tuned with Cisneros’s writing. 

Both “Eleven” and “My Name” lend themselves to close reading strategies such as making predictions, forming opinions, asking “big idea” questions, and making connections. These stories in particular promote lots of text-to-self connections, as readers can easily identify with the protagonist’s experiences with a memorable birthday and the meaning behind her name. We use these Close Reading Strategies Bookmarks for all the literature we read with our students.

Reason #2 – Cisneros’s writing is filled with figurative language. 

This allows students to gain practice in not only identifying personification, metaphors, etc., but analyzing why Cisneros chose to use a particular figurative device and its effect on characters, setting, and plot. Before reading Cisneros’s stories, we review figurative language with this fun Bingo Game. Then, when doing our close reading of the stories, we have our students do a figurative language scavenger hunt and discuss why Cisneros used these particular devices to strengthen her characters’ perspectives and make her arguments more compelling. We find it so helpful to give our students concrete practice in analyzing figurative language in shorter works before they dive into a novel like The House on Mango Street.

Reason #3 – Cisneros’s writing encourages readers to look at every sentence and see what is important.

There is just so much beneath the surface in her writing. For example, in “Eleven,” what appears to be a simple story about a young girl facing a humiliating experience on her birthday is filled with opportunities for analysis about how the protagonist (Rachel) is growing and maturing all within a few hours. Stories like these really force students to look at the text from different angles – identifying allusions and discussing their relevance to the story. It’s a fascinating way to read a literary piece with your students!
Do you teach Cisneros or The House on Mango Street in your middle school classroom? If yes, we’d love to know why you’ve chosen to teach her literature! Please leave a comment below or send us an email at ebacademiccamps@gmail.com 🙂
Save this post for later!
We love teaching Sandra Cisneros's short stories (and vignettes from The House on Mango Street) in our middle school ELA classrooms! These are the perfect way to study close reading strategies, figurative language devices, and digging deeper into in-depth analysis of the text. Read about why we love Cisneros and why you will, too!
EB Academic Camps

All posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Hi there! We're two middle school ELA teachers with a mission to share ideas, tips, and tricks for effectively teaching reading and writing in the secondary classroom. We're so happy you stopped by!

Caitlin + Jessica

Your 15 Free Resources Are Waiting!

Immediately receive access to our
Free Resource Library

We promise we won't spam you.

Let’s Connect

Popular Posts

Our Latest Posts



  • Tell me in the comments below 👇🏼 What type of writing do you HATE teaching the most?⁣
Narratives? Argumentative? Informational? Text-based? ⁣
So many teachers reach out to us about struggles they face when teaching writing, so know that you are NOT ALONE. ⁣
All of this to say, I love seeing the success of our EB Teachers with writing in their classrooms like Kate from @kateteaching7and8 who is using so many of our EB Teachers’ Club resources to see amazing results for her students!⁣
I love what Kate has to say about these lessons, “I really feel like the EB Teachers’ Club has me not only feeling more prepared as I start class each day, but also like I’m increasing my expectations and rigor. The greatest part is the kids are rising to meet the new expectations.” 😍♥️🤗
  • Something that I’ve been thinking about lately as I’ve been doing a lot of personal work to grow and become the best version of myself ...⁣
I think it’s important for us to remember how we are showing up each day. Whether that’s in the classroom or even at home with family and friends. ⁣
Who are we being?⁣
And why are we being that way?⁣
If there’s something about yourself that you don’t like, first I want you to question why you feel that way and where that belief about yourself comes from. ⁣
But then I want to encourage you to think about how you could adjust to be the best version of you. ⁣
I’ll give you an example from myself ... I am VERY high strung. And I have been telling myself this narrative about who I am for forever. My family tells me. My friends tell me. ⁣
But that’s not who I want to be and that’s now what I want to define me. ⁣
So I’ve taken a hard look at why I feel this way about myself, and what I can do to alter that narrative and not be high strung. And not be defined in that way. ⁣
Just some food for thought on a Sunday morning. ⁣
Feel free to share your thoughts with me ♥️
  • Can I be completely honest for a second?

One thing that I miss about being a classroom teacher (in addition to SO many other things) is dressing up every day 🤷🏼‍♀️ There, I said it 😱

Weird? I don’t know ... maybe, but that’s me.
  • It is very possible that today’s podcast episode will completely contradict a major component of the way you teach literary analysis. 
In the episode, we reveal our third game-changing strategy for teaching evidence-based writing, and we’re asking you to take a breath, suspend judgement for a moment, and allow us to walk you through exactly why we believe in this strategy, even though it goes against the grain. 
Continue listening to the episode here —> ebacademics.com/35
  • One of the biggest mistakes we can make as writing teachers is requiring our students to start their essays with a HOOK. 
With this strategy, students gets STUCK on that first sentence before they can even get a chance to get to the heart of their paper! They end up wasting tons of precious writing time trying to come up with an interesting hook that oftentimes is a stretch. 
Instead, we want to give our students a CLEAR roadmap to begin their essays. One that will give them confidence in their abilities from the get go. One that allows them to quickly move into the meat of their critical analysis, so they can truly show us what they've learned. 
If you've ever taught hook and are ready to try a new, counterintuitive approach that WORKS and gives your students RESULTS, this episode is a MUST listen. 
Head over here to give it a listen --> ebacademics.com/34
  • Double tap if you agree ♥️♥️⁣
And if you need to call in sick to take a mental health day for yourself. DO IT. Take a day off and go get a pedicure, or go shopping, or go workout!⁣
Do whatever you need to do to get to the place of your best self. ⁣
I used to work with a teacher who took a mental health day every month. It was when I first started teaching, and I didn’t get it. Why was she doing that?⁣
Well, fast forward to a decade in the classroom later, and now I truly see the value and importance of doing that! ⁣
I know you hear it all the time, but let it sink in ...⁣
You need to do what’s best for YOU and take care of yourself first. If we aren’t operating from our best selves, then we’re not able to serve anyone the way that we’re capable of. ⁣
On another note, hope you all enjoyed that extra hour of sleep last night! And if you have young children, I can commiserate. My little guy woke up at 6:30 😂😭🤦🏼‍♀️📸 @dumbosteiner

Follow @ebacademics