Diana López
 author ~ educator

 Author of CONFETTI GIRL

Teacher Resource

Choke

For a printer-friendly educator's guide, click here.

Discussion Questions

  • One of the major themes in Choke is a desire for acceptance.  Contrast the different ways that Windy, her father, Elena, and Liz seek acceptance.  Also consider how seeking acceptance can be both a good and a bad thing.
  • Choke has several recurring images: cats, weather, scarves, ice skating, Top Five lists.  What role do these images play?  In what ways are they symbolic?
  • Windy has several mentors, people who try to guide her in the right direction.  In what ways do Windy’s parents and her friends, Elena and Mrs. Vargas, guide her? Why does she sometimes resist their advice?
  • Nina is an interesting character because she is both nice and mean.  Why does she have so much power over the other girls?  How does she use this power for good and for bad? What is your overall opinion of Nina?  Do you like/dislike her?  Explain why.
  • The novel explores the choking game.  Why are young people attracted to this dangerous activity?  What are the risks and what consequences does Nina experience?

Personal Responses to the Book

  • Windy’s father’s beliefs about how he should look come from the newscasts he sees on TV.  Do find yourself wanting to look or act like characters on TV?  What role does the media play in forming your viewpoints about what you consider acceptable or not acceptable?
  • Windy feels pulled in two directions as she tries to be friends with both Elena and Nina.  Write about a time you felt caught between two people and about how you handled this situation.  You can write about friends or family members. 
  • Windy experiences peer pressure when Nina encourages her to play the choking game, but peer pressure can also be a positive force as when Elena encourages Windy to be good.  Discuss a time when peer pressure tempted you to do something wrong.  Or, discuss a time when peer pressure encouraged you to do something good.

Suggestions for Creative Writing

  • What do you think happens after Choke ends?  Write a short story that serves as a sequel.
  • Windy writes many Top Five lists.  Try writing your own.  You can rewrite one of the Top Five lists in the book or come up with your own.
  • Elena loves word-morphing.  Create a glossary of your own word-morphs.  Consider using meanings from common prefixes, suffixes, and root words.

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Confetti Girl

For a printer-friendly educator's guide, click here.

Discussion Questions:

  • Mr. Flores and Ms. Cantu are dealing with the loss of a loved one.  How do they handle grief?  How do their reactions affect their daughters?  And how do Lina and Vanessa help their parents deal with their loss?
  • What role do books and writing play in the novel?  What role for Mr. Flores?  What role for Lina?
  • How are the parenting styles of Mr. Flores and Ms. Cantu alike and different?  Some things to think about are their rules about boyfriends, school, and chores.
  • The novel is called “Confetti Girl.”  In what ways are cascarones and confetti symbolic?  What other symbols are present in the book?
  • Lina is embarrassed about being tall, while Luís is embarrassed about stuttering.  How does their relationship help them overcome these insecurities?

Personal Response Prompts:

  • Lina’s parents often recite dichos.  What proverbs or sayings are popular in your family? 
  • Lina and Vanessa are best friends, but they don’t always get along.  Write about a time you experienced a conflict with a friend or sibling. 
  • Lina and Vanessa have a lot of school projects.  Write about one of your school projects.  Describe your favorite one, or describe one that was difficult for you.

Creative Writing Prompts:

  • Take a scene from the novel and rewrite it from someone else’s point of view.  For example, rewrite the movie scene from Vanessa’s point of view, or rewrite the first volleyball game from Mr. Flores’s point of view.
  • Lina creates many different uses for socks.  Take an everyday item (for example, a toothpick, trash can lid, or picture frame) and describe different uses for it.
  • Take one of the chapter titles or one of the dichos and use it as a springboard for writing your own poem or short story.

Interdisciplinary Ideas:

  • Art:  Make cascarones or design a pair of crazy socks.
  • Science:  Mr. Star, Lina’s science teacher, assigns a project that requires the students to use field research in order to learn about some aspect of the coastal environment.  What type of natural environment is near you?  Use field research to complete a project similar to the one Lina and her friends had to do.
  • History:  Lina learns a little about the background of cascarones.  Take a family or holiday tradition and research its origins.

 

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