A Long Walk To Water Essay Question

Building Background KNowledge:

The Dinka and Nuer Tribes: (Culture) (12/1)

  1. Define culture.
  2. How do you think culture impacts a person's actions and decisions? Explain. 


  • Explore the two different tribes. Click on the buttons that will take to to the websites containing information about each tribe.
  • Read through the information and take notes using the chart (found in resources). 
  • Look through the PowerPoint of pictures of both tribes (found in resources)

  • Answer the following questions in your notebook:
  • How is the Dinka tribe and the Nuer tribe similar to your culture? (List 3 reasons)
  • How are they different from your culture? (List 3 reasons)
  • Would you move from your home and your land to a completely different culture? Why/why not?

Read Chapters 1 and 2. (BE SURE TO READ NYA's STORY AS WELL!)
Answer the following questions in your notebook:
  • Compare your daily life to that of Salva.
  • Describe the thoughts and feelings Salva must have felt as he ran away from his home.
  • What are the uncertainties in Salva’s life?
  • At the end of this chapter, Salva was alone.  What was he thinking?  What was he feeling?



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The Story Behind Salva Dut: (12/2)

  • Define biography.
  • Why is it important to know somebody's story? Explain.
  • Explain what we know so far about Salva based on information given in chapters 1 and 2.

  • Read and annotate the biography of Salva Dut (found in resources).
  • Explain in your notebooks three facts that you feel it is most important to understand about Salva. Describe why you believe these are important.
  • Explain three facts that you found to be interesting. Describe why each fact was interesting.
  • Create three questions you would ask Salva if you had the opportunity to meet him. 

Copy and Define in notebook:
  • droned
  • aimless
  • hesitate
  • scurry
  • protested

  • Read chapters 3 and 4. (BE SURE TO READ NYA'S PART)
  • Answer the following questions in your notebook: 
  • Analyze Salva’s thoughts as he walked with a group of people he did not know.
  • Describe what you would do if you found yourself in the same situation Salva found himself in. 
  • Describe Salva’s feelings as he comes upon the house.
  • What does the term “simple pleasure” mean to you?
  • Why was Salva so happy when they found a beehive?  Could this beehive be his simple pleasure?
  • What are you wondering about Nya?



Tribes: (12/3)

  1. How do we identify groups in our school? Explain.
  2. Do you believe it is important to have certain traits that distinguish groups from other groups? Explain.
  3. Describe one way you could identify someone is from Kentucky. Be specific and explain why.

  • Read and annotate the article "Native Americans Urge Others to Stop Wearing Feathered Headdresses." (Found in resources)
  • Answer the following questions in your notebook: (Restate each question and write in complete sentences)
  • Why was there such a backlash against Williams' (who is not Native American) photo shoot sporting the Native American war bonnet? Explain
  • Why do you think the war bonnet is significant to the Native American culture? Explain.
  • What symbols were used to identify Salva's tribe? Use text support with page numbers. 
  • Why do you think Salva's tribe used such symbols? Explain.
  • What symbols do we use in our culture? Why?
  • Do you think it is important to use symbols to identify groups? Why? Use examples from your culture to explain. 

  • Create a self portrait using at least three symbols from your culture.
  • Make it creative an colorful!
  • On the back of the portrait, explain why you chose each symbol. (Write in complete sentences)
  • Turn it in to the box when you finish. 

Vocabulary: (Copy and define in notebook)
  • luscious
  • dehydration
  • grueling
  • entrenched
  • flinched
  • gourd

  • Read chapters 5 and 6. (BE SURE TO READ NYA'S PART)
  • Answer the following questions in your notebook:
  • Explain the relationship between Nya’s tribe, the Nuer, and Salva’s tribe, the Dinka.  Be specific and use details from the book.
  • Describe Salva’s new friend, Marial.
  • How would life change for Salva, now that he has a new friend?


Water Stations: (12/4)

  1. List out our basic resources (food, clothing, shelter, and water) in order that you think is most important. (#1 on your list would be the most important) 
  2. Describe why you listed the resources the way you did.
  3. Do you believe everyone in the world has access to basic human resources? Why/why not?

Water stations:
  • Get into groups of four.
  • Travel to a station of your choice. 
  • In your groups, you will work through water stations. You will complete your work on your station worksheet (found in resources). 
  • You will spend 10 min. at each station. Elect someone in the group to keep time.
  • After you complete the station work, turn in your station paper (staple anticipation guide to station worksheet). EVERYONE WILL NEED TO FILL OUT THEIR OWN STATION WORKSHEET.
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Station #1:
Water Footprint:
  • Determine your water footprint by going to the site and completing the section for "water footprint."
  • In your observation, be sure to include at least three things you noticed or found interesting. 
  • Include one question you have about the your water footprint. 
Station #2:
Bucket Carry:
  • Grab a bucket that had weights in them. Carry the bucket up and down the 8th grade hallway five times. 
  • Reflect on worksheet: What do you think it would be like to do this for 15 hours everyday? Explain. What are somethings you had trouble with? Do you think the will to survive can over come obstacles? Why/why not?  

Station #3:
The Lost Boys Map Project:
Pick up a handout and both maps from the table, and follow the directions on the handout. 
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Station #4:
Anticipation Guide:
Collect anticipation guide from table and complete. Choose the statement you feel most strongly about and write why choose that statement. 
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Station #5:
Be sure to complete the evaluation list on your worksheet. 


  • Read chapters 7 and 8. (BE SURE TO READ NYA'S PART)
  • Answer the following questions in your notebook:
  • Based on the information you learned from water.org or the water lab, explain your inference about what is happening to Nya’s little sister, Akeer.
  • The hard work of building the reed boats helped Salva feel better after Marial’s death.  Describe the value of hard work.  What does it mean to you?  Explain a connection you can make to Salva and the value of hard work.
  • How did the travelers prepare for the Akobo desert?
  • Do you think Salva is ready?  Why or why not?


Quiz: (12/5)

  • Look over questions and review what you have read.
  • Take a quiz over reading. 

  • Read chapters 9 and 10. (BE SURE TO READ NYA'S PART)
  • Answer the following questions in your notebook:
  • Nya’s brother, Dep, explained to her that the strangers were saying, “something about water.”  Use your schema and inferencing to state what you think they were talking about.
  • Do you agree with the woman’s decision to give the men water, or with the man’s opinion that they will all die anyway, so giving them water is a waste?  Explain your reasoning.
  • Who were the heroes in chapter 10?  Why?
  • Would you give your water away in this situation?  Why or why not?


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Salva and Nya's Point of View: (12/8)

  • Define point-of-view.
  • Describe the type of point of view from which A Long Walk to Water is written.
  • Explain how you know this. (support your answer with text).

  • You will participate in an activity called "Give One, Get One, Move On (GoGoMo)"
  • You will need a GoGoMo chart sheet. Read the directions with your table group. 
  • Write an idea you have concerning the following topic: "Using Nya or Salva's point of view, what does it mean to "survive?" Use one piece of text from the chapter to support your answer.
  • After five min. pass to your sheet to your right. Read over your neighbors paper and add to their thought. You can not repeat.
  • After each person in the table has gone, read over their response.

  • Explain which thought you found most profound. Why?
  • Did any of your neighbors' thoughts change the way you think? Why or why not?
  • How does point of view affect your perspective on what it means to survive?

  • Read chapter 11 and answer the questions below in your notebook:
  • Describe the refugee camp in Ethiopia.
  • “He felt as though he were standing on the edge of a giant hole – a hole filled with the black despair of nothingness.”  What does this tell you about the feelings of Salva?

Vocabulary: (Copy and define in notebook)
  • fault line 
  • topple
  • coup 
  • guerrillas


Salva and Nya's Point of View cont.: (12/10)

  • Between Salva and Nya, who do you think has a better mindset on survival? Why?
  • How does point of view affect their view on survival? Explain.

  • Take the survival quiz that is on the website found in resources.
  • After taking the quiz, rate your survival knowledge.
  • Answer the following questions in your notebook:
  • How do you think you would do if you were in Salva or Nya's situation? Explain
  • Do you think it is important to have survival skills in the environment you are in? Explain.
  • What do you think is the most important thing to know when it comes to survival? Explain.
  • Explore the website. Observe different  survival skills. Visit at least three different survival skills on the webpage (located on the left hand side.)

  • Create a survival guide using the point of view of either Salva or Nya. 
  • You need to explain three different challenges you can over come. (For example- explain how one can survive lack of water. This is found on the website. Make sure you use your own words!)
  • It needs to have pictures and a cover.
  • It also needs to include a title. 

  • Read chapters 12 and 13 and answer the following questions in your notebook:
  • After six years in the refugee camp, the people were being forced out.  Put yourself in Salva’s shoes … how would you feel? 
  • So far, how has this book changed your perspective (outlook on the world)?
  • Describe Salva’s escape across the river.
  • Now Salva is 17 years old.  What new responsibilities does he have?  How do you know he is prepared for these responsibilities?
  • Explain how Salva’s thoughts of his family helped him accept his new responsibilities.

Vocabulary: (Copy and define in notebook)
  • roughshod
  • dysfunction
  • assault 

Socratic Circle: (12/11)

  • Go back to your anticipation guide. Which three statements did you choose that you supported the most? 
  • How do those questions relate to A Long Walk to Water? Explain.
  • Create at lease three "level 3 or 4" questions to ask your peers. Remember a level three or four question is something that would allow your peers to connect to the text and takes them into deeper level thinking. (The answer to your question should not be something that could be found directly in the book)


  • Identify the question you felt was the strongest in your discussion today. Why do you think it was strong?
  • How has your understanding of the book deepened because of the Socratic Circle discussion? Explain.
  • Explain how your thinking about an issue has changed or grown stronger. Be specific.
  • Read Chapter 14 and answer the questions below in your notebook:
  • What qualification did Salva meet in order to go to America?
  • How do you think this opportunity will affect his life?


Creative Writing: (12/12)

Imagine you are the host of a survival show and you have been dropped into the desert in Sudan. Knowing that all reality TV is made up, you are still asked to make it look real BUT situations are thrown in to add the drama. Create a story of what your show would look like. What situation would you encounter. Create a dialogue you would say during the show. How would you teach your viewers to survive? AAAANNNNDDD ACTION!

  • Read Chapter 15 and answer the questions below in your notebook:
  • Who are the “lost boys?” Why do you think they were called “lost?”
  • Imagine you were Salva, taking your first footsteps into America.  What do you think would be in your mind?

Water Crisis Lab: (12/15)

  • Describe three things that you know about water in our world.
  • How does water impact daily life for people?
  • Discuss a way that we clean the dirty water. Explain

  • Worksheet (found in resources)
  • Pie Pan
  • Two different types of beans (one to represent clean water and the other to represent dirty water)
  • spoon
  • blindfold
  • cups
  • partner
  • stopwatch
  • mason jar
  • coffee filter
  • M&Ms
  • water
  • rubber band
  1. Ask partner to have 15 sec. on the clock
  2. Place a handful of "clean water" bean in pie pan
  3. Add a few "dirty water" beans
  4. Put on blindfold
  5. Have partner start time
  6. Begin collecting as many beans as possible with spoon and place in cup
  7. At the end of 15 sec., stop and count the two different types of beans.
  8. Put beans back in pie pan
  9. Record on worksheet.
  10. Add double the amount of dirty water beans from step 3.
  11. Repeat steps 4-9 until chart is filled.
  12. Answer questions on sheet.
  13. Place coffee filter on mason jar and secure with rubber-band.
  14. Put a handful of M&Ms on filter
  15. Pour water over M&Ms
  • 1

    What was the political background in the year when the novel started?

    The novel started in the year 1982, two years into the Sudanese civil war. The war was between the government of the country and the Muslim rebel groups that tried to impose sharia law in the country. Another reason was the fight over natural resources and thus in a way the war can also be considered as being between the south of the country and the north of the country. Either way, the Sudanese civil war is considered as being the most brutal civil war in history and millions of lives were affected as a result. Many villages were destroyed and millions of people were forced to flee their homes and run to neighboring countries such as Ethiopia. Some of the challenges the people had to face during the war are presented in the novel, including descriptions about what it was like to live in a refugee camp.

  • 2

    Why did Salva spend the night vomiting after eating food for the first time in an extended period of time?

    When Salva’s uncle managed to hunt down an antelope, everyone in the group ate that night but instead of feeling good, they all spend the rest of the night sick, throwing up the food they ate before. The reason why their body reacted this way is because their stomachs became accustomed to eating little food. Because food was introduced into their diets in a chaotic manner, the members of the group got sick, their bodies not being able to stomach and keep down the food they ate.

  • 3

    Why was Salva sent to America in the year 2001?

    The civil war in Sudan left more than 20.000 children were separated from their families and forced to flee to either Nigeria of Ethiopia, seeking help. The children never reunited with their families as most became orphans during the war and in 1996, at least 17.000 children still remained in the refugee camps. In the year 2001, the United States of America started a program entitled the Lost Boys of Sudan that had the purpose of resettling some of the orphans in the country. As a result, in the year 2001, more than 3800 children were taken from Sudan and adopted by American couples. The children then were either sent to school or helped to find a job in the new country. Salva was among the children chosen to go to America and there he was able to receive a good education that enabled him later to start a non-profit organization.

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