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Amigo Brothers by Piri Thomas

Teacher Guide by Becky Harvey and Bridget Baudinet

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School ELA Category!

Student Activities for Amigo Brothers Include:

The short story, "Amigo Brothers" by Piri Thomas, is about two boys who have grown up together and are such great friends that they feel like brothers. Set in New York City, but heavily influenced by Puerto Rican culture, the story describes the two boys’ love of boxing. For both, boxing has been a way to escape the negative influences that frequently beset young men in the inner city.

When the two boys, Antonio and Felix, learn that they are to compete against each other in the biggest fights of their lives, they are conflicted. They are such good friends and they don’t want to hurt each other. They decide to fight each other without “pulling any punches”, and it doesn’t destroy their friendship. Despite beating each other quite severely in the match, they walk away from the fight, arm-in-arm, as the great friends they always were.


By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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A Quick "Amigo Brothers" Summary

Antonio Cruz and Felix Vargas are seventeen-year-olds who have grown up best friends in New York City. They are boxing fans and have trained for years in the sport. They are each other’s best sparring partners. Though they are completely different in their appearances (Antonio is lean and slick, while Felix is stocky and muscular), they both have the same training ethics and dreams of fighting greatness.

Each boy has been quite successful, with gold medals to prove it. After a series of fights, the two boys are informed that they are set to fight each other. They continue to train together, but they sense something starting to come between them. Neither wants their fight to impact their friendship.

After a week, Felix asks how they should deal with their upcoming fight. How are they supposed to fight each other, possibly hurting one another, each wanting to win, and still remain friends? They mutually decide that they will be professional about the fight, as they each want to win. They won’t restrain themselves, but neither will they hold anything against the other. They also decide that with only a week left, they should train separately. They hug goodbye and don’t see each other until fight day.

The night before the fight, trying to forget that each might hurt his friend, they each take some time to relax and prepare in their own way. Antonio goes up to the roof of his tenement building and looks at the city. When thoughts of his best friend start to creep in, he does some shadow boxing and footwork. He practices away his worries and goes to bed, dreaming about the opening bell. Felix, relaxes and tries to remove the worrisome thoughts by watching a movie about boxing. He starts seeing himself and Antonio as the characters. He is able to imagine himself as the winner. He goes to bed and sleeps restlessly.

The morning of the fight, the boys are in the right mindset. Neighborhood residents like and respect both boys, and the fight brings people together with excitement. Antonio and Felix go round after round, each with a very different fighting style, and each knowing the other, inside and out. The fight goes on and on, and each boy takes a beating. By the end of the story, the boys have fought three rounds and ignored the final bell, wanting to have a winner by knockout. As the announcer goes to say who the winner is, the boys walk out of the ring, arm in arm.


Essential Questions for “Amigo Brothers”

  1. What is true friendship?
  2. What effect can sports have on a community?
  3. How can sports have a positive impact on people? A negative impact?
  4. Can true friendship survive competition?

Amigo Brothers Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Compare and Contrast Characters | Antonio and Felix

Storyboarding is a great way to compare and contrast literary elements, characters, or events. Have your students choose an example of similarities and differences from their reading to depict using the storyboard creator. In the storyboard, an example of each similarity and/or difference should be visually represented, along with an explanation of the scene, and how it is similar or different.


Character Comparison: Antonio and Felix

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Identify Themes in "Amigo Brothers"

Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify themes from "Amigo Brothers" and support their choices with details from the text.

"Amigo Brothers" Themes to Look For and Discuss


Friendship

Felix and Antonio's friendship is based on years of trust and support of each other. Antonio and Felix don't let competition or personal gain get in the way of their friendship.


Hard Work

Antonio and Felix rise to the top through hard work. They work out every chance they get, either going to Boys Club or the pro gym, running, or practicing their jabs on the street.


Good Sportsmanship

Felix and Antonio respect each other as boxers. They do not trash talk each other, and they try to follow all the referee's commands. For them, love of the sport is more important than winning.


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"Amigo Brothers" Vocabulary Lesson Plan


Copy Assignment



Another great way to engage your students is with storyboards that use vocabulary from short stories. Below are a few vocabulary words commonly taught with "Amigo Brothers" and an example of a visual vocabulary board.

"Amigo Brothers" Vocabulary


  • barrage
  • flail
  • bedlam
  • pensively
  • clarity
  • perpetual
  • devastating
  • torrent
  • dispel
  • tournament
  • unbridled
  • evading
  • improvise
  • frenzied
  • feint
  • tenement
  • amateur
  • bouts

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Using a three-celled spider map with title and descriptions boxes, label the boxes: Description, Words with Related Meanings (synonyms), and Example.

In the description boxes of the above three cells put:

  1. the definition with the part of speech
  2. three to four synonyms
  3. a sentence that properly uses the word

Finally, create illustrations to go along with descriptions.




(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





Copy Assignment

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“Amigo Brothers” Story Elements

As students learn more about elements of literature, they are often asked to draw connections between these elements. Storyboards can be a great way for students to demonstrate an understanding of the way these elements interact. For this storyboard, students can explain connections between characters and plot, setting and mood, plot and the theme, characters and theme, or the setting and plot. Have students depict pairs of elements side by side and explain their connections underneath them. The sample storyboard illustrates the connection between characters and plot and setting and mood.


Example “Amigo Brothers” Story Elements

CharactersPlot

Antonio and Felix are dedicated boxers and best friends. They are good sportsmen.

The characters' friendship and good sportsmanship lead them to leave the ring without learning the winner.

SettingMood

The roof of Antonio's tenement is quiet and dark. Tony can see the lights of the city blinking below and hear the muffled sounds of the city.

The rooftop setting creates a peaceful mood as Antonio tries to calm his nerves.


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“Amigo Brothers” Story Prediction

“Amigo Brothers” ends without revealing the winner of the final boxing match. One way for students to demonstrate understanding of story elements is to create a three-frame extended ending to the story. The ending should be consistent with the story’s message, the plot events, and characters’ established personalities. Students can also use text bubbles to practice writing dialogue. For each frame, have students depict the scene and narrate it in the box below, using proper grammar and transitions.

Students who are unfamiliar with the way boxing matches are scored may find some helpful information here.


Example “Amigo Brothers” Story Prediction

After the fight, both boys left without waiting for the final result. They congratulated each other and went home to clean up and get some rest. The next morning, the boys read about the fight in the local paper. Felix won the match, 30-29. Felix would be moving on to the Golden Gloves Championship Tournament. When Felix and Antonio met that afternoon, there were no hard feelings between them. For them, it was just another day at the gym.


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•   (English) Amigo Brothers   •   (Español) Amigo Brothers   •   (Français) Brothers ami   •   (Deutsch) Brüder Freund   •   (Italiana) Amico Brothers   •   (Nederlands) Brothers Vriend   •   (Português) Irmãos Amigo   •   (עברית) חבר אחים   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) الإخوة صديق   •   (हिन्दी) भाइयों दोस्त   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Братья Друг   •   (Dansk) ven Brothers   •   (Svenska) Brothers vän   •   (Suomi) Brothers Ystävä   •   (Norsk) Brothers Venn   •   (Türkçe) Kardeşler Arkadaşı   •   (Polski) Bracia Przyjaciela   •   (Româna) Brothers Prieten   •   (Ceština) Bratři Kamarád   •   (Slovenský) Amigo Brothers   •   (Magyar) Amigo Brothers   •   (Hrvatski) Amigo Brothers   •   (български) Амиго Братя   •   (Lietuvos) Amigo Broliai   •   (Slovenščina) Amigo Brothers   •   (Latvijas) Amigo Brothers   •   (eesti) Amigo Brothers