4th Grade Literature

Unit 2: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

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Unit Summary

In Grade 4 Fiction, scholars grapple with the overarching question of how a person develops values, identities, and beliefs. In this unit scholars dig deeply into how families shape a person’s identity, values, and beliefs and how relationships with others can change a person’s identity. Scholars will also explore what it means to have good fortune and how a person’s view on fortune varies depending on his/her values and beliefs. It is our hope that this unit, in connection with other units from the entire year-long sequence, will help build a deeper understanding of how we become who we are and the positive and negative factors that influence us along the way. 

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was chosen as an engaging text to help build excitement at the beginning of the year, while simultaneously allowing for deep discussions about character, setting, vocabulary, and the larger theme of identity. Over the course of the novel, the author, Grace Lin, includes lots of detail and description to reveal information about characters and how they change based on experiences and relationships. Scholars will be challenged to notice the details that Grace Lin includes and analyze how the details build to support a deeper, more nuanced understanding of characters. Grace Lin also includes lots of powerful vocabulary and figurative language as a way of helping readers visualize exactly what is happening in the story. Scholars will be challenged to figure out the meaning of unknown words and figurative language and analyze why the author made particular word choices. In this unit scholars will also begin to use summarization as a strategy to track the plot of a longer text.

Texts and Materials

    Core Text(s)
  • Book: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011) — 810L

  • Supporting Materials
  • Book: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (Dover Publications, 1996) — 990L


  • Reading Standards for Literature
    • RL.4.1 — Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
    • RL.4.2 — Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
    • RL.4.3 — Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).
    • RL.4.4 — Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).
    • RL.4.9 — Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.
    • RL.4.10 — By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grades 4—5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
  • Reading Standards for Informational Text
    • RI.4.4 — Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.
  • Reading Standards: Foundational Skills
    • RF.4.3.a — Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.
    • RF.4.4 — Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
    • RF.4.4.a — Read on-level text with purpose and understanding.
    • RF.4.4.c — Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary.
  • Writing Standards
    • W.4.1 — Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information
    • W.4.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
    • W.4.3 — Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
    • W.4.4 — Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1—3 above.)
    • W.4.5 — With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
    • W.4.9 — Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
    • W.4.10 — Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
  • Speaking and Listening Standards
    • SL.4.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • SL.4.2 — Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    • SL.4.6 — Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion); use formal English when appropriate to task and situation.
  • Language Standards
    • L.4.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • L.4.1.f — Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.
    • L.4.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
    • L.4.2.c — Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.
    • L.4.3 — Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
    • L.4.4 — Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 4 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
    • L.4.4.a — Use context (e.g., definitions, examples, or restatements in text) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
    • L.4.4.b — Use common, grade-appropriate Greek and Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., telegraph, photograph, autograph).
    • L.4.4.c — Consult reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation and determine or clarify the precise meaning of key words and phrases.
    • L.4.5 — Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
    • L.4.5.a — Explain the meaning of simple similes and metaphors (e.g., as pretty as a picture) in context.
    • L.4.5.c — Demonstrate understanding of words by relating them to their opposites (antonyms) and to words with similar but not identical meanings (synonyms).
    • L.4.6 — Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal precise actions, emotions, or states of being (e.g., quizzed, whined, stammered) and that are basic to a particular topic (e.g., wildlife, conservation, and endangered when discussing animal preservation).
  • How are people transformed through their relationships with others?
  • How do we form and shape our identities, values, and beliefs? How does family play a role in this?
  • What does it mean to have good fortune?
  • How do stories motivate and inspire people?
  • Why is it important to always believe in yourself?

Key Understandings?

  • Narratives often have overarching thematic topics (ex. love, hope, bravery) with multiple thematic messages to highlight what the author wants to express about the particular topic. The thematic messages can be lessons or morals, or something more abstract, like an observation or message about life. 
  • In some stories a character changes or realizes something as a result of her struggle, positive or negative. Although usually not explicit, the character emerges from her journey a changed person and therein lies the message. 
  • Point of view focuses on the type of narrator used to tell the story. 
    • A third-person narrator’s perspective is developed through the way they describe events in the story. The narrator may make side comments about events or describe them using certain diction that implies their attitude.
  • Perspective focuses on how this narrator or character perceives what’s happening within the story based on what they know and what they reveal.
    • Perspective is “who knows what” in the story. The author purposefully controls the flow of information to characters, and even to the reader, for a reason. Different characters and/or the reader may be aware of certain knowledge that is hidden to others.
  • Point of view helps us determine the character’s perspectives by limiting or granting the reader's knowledge about the plot, who knows what, and providing different types of details or clues to help us determine a character’s perspective. By switching point of view and perspective across chapters, authors can develop multiple perspectives and storylines. 
  • Parallel storylines or narratives happen when an author includes two or more narratives that are linked by a common character, event, or theme. Parallel storylines help build and reveal multiple characters’ perspectives.
  • Figurative language is used to make writing more vivid and powerful. Similes are a figure of speech that compares two different things using “like” or “as” to draw a comparison. Metaphors state a comparison without using “like” or “as.”

Due to the length and complexity of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, this text has a few key reading focuses. This unit serves as students first introduction to the idea of theme. Students will track a few thematic topics over the course of the unit and then craft thematic messages at the end of the unit. Scholars will also begin a deeper dive into point of view and perspective. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is written in third-person point of view, and the parallel story lines allow a reader to see multiple characters’ perspectives. Keeping track of the different perspectives and noticing how different characters evolve and change over the course of the journey is crucial for understanding the text. Finally, this unit serves as a launch into understanding figurative language. In third grade students learned how to identify the difference between literal and nonliteral language, but this unit serves as students first introduction to the terms simile and metaphor. 

​See our Writing Rubric as a resource to provide feedback on student writing.

Writing Rubric: View Rubric

Narrative Writing Focus Areas?

  • Uses relevant text details or background knowledge from the text to develop characters, ideas, or situations
  • Uses powerful vocabulary to create a picture
  • Writer’s voice is appropriate to the audience and purpose
  • Uses an organizational structure that is purposeful to the genre
  • Events unfold in a logical way
  • Uses description to develop experiences and show the response of characters to a situation

In Unit 1, scholars focused on writing the next chapter of the text using a clear narrative-sequence. In this unit scholars continue to work on using a clear narrative-sequence as they write journal entries that retell events from another character's point of view. The main focus for this unit is on ensuring that scholars are able to use relevant text details and background knowledge when writing a well-organized narrative. Scholars will also focus on using vocabulary from the unit, and ensuring their voice is appropriate to the audience and purpose.

Literary Analysis Writing Focus Areas?

  • (Evidence) Brainstorms a variety of evidence in order to make theories about a character 
  • (Central idea) Makes a claim that connects to the topic and shows understanding of the key details 
  • (Central idea) Revises a claim to reflect new evidence and understanding 
  • (Evidence) Picks the most important or relevant evidence to support a theory or claim
  • (Explanation) Explains how particular evidence supports a claim or theory 
  • (Organization) Uses a strong paragraph structure with a topic sentence, key details and explanations, and conclusion

In literary analysis scholars continue to explore the power of gathering and interpreting evidence before stating a claim. Over the course of the unit scholars will gather evidence about Minli in order to deepen and refine their understanding of who she is as a character. These lessons will help solidify the idea that in order to create claims that can be defended and explained, you need to have a deep understanding of the entire text. In this unit scholars will also be pushed to understand the components of a strong claim, and how the most important part of drafting a claim is having solid reasons. Scholars will also begin to work on determining which evidence is the strongest and orally explaining what makes the evidence strong and connected to the claim or theory.

The focus of daily target task writing should be on evidence gathering, interpretation, and writing strong potential claims. Scholars should begin to draft paragraphs using the evidence they have gathered during brainstorming. Note: It is incredibly important that scholars do not equate evidence with quotations. Therefore, if needed, include mini-lessons on how to paraphrase details to ensure that scholar answers do not rely on direct quotations from the text.

Language Writing Focus Areas?

  • Explains what makes a compound sentence
  • Uses coordinating conjunctions and a comma to produce compound sentences 
  • Uses comma and but to join contrasting sentences 
  • Uses comma and so to join two sentences with cause and effect
  • Uses comma and or to join sentences that present choice 

The main language focus of this unit is on using coordinating conjunctions to produce compound sentences. Scholars will practice using the coordinating conjunctions and, but, so, and or to create compound sentences. This unit builds on work done in the third grade literature Unit 6 where students learned how to use conjunctions to join ideas. In order to produce compound sentences it is incredibly important that scholars have mastered the language focus of Unit 1, writing complete sentences. If students are still struggling to write and identify complete sentences, provide additional remediation and support before teaching the lessons in this unit. 

The lessons provided in this unit serve as a launch for exploring compound sentences. Scholars will need continuous and targeted feedback in order to master using coordinating conjunctions to create compound sentences. As a built in support, consider having students write compound sentences as claims during daily target task writing.

Phonics and Word Recognition Focus Areas?

  • Uses syllabication rules to sound out and tackle new words. 
  • Uses prefixes and suffixes to decode and figure out the meaning of new words. 

As part of the vocabulary routine for this unit scholars will practice using syllabication patterns and affixes to break down vocabulary words. Scholars will practice identifying the number of syllables and use knowledge of syllabication patterns to explain how they determined the number of syllables. Students will also practice using affixes to break down a word. A sample routine is included in lesson 2 and 7, however, this vocabulary and word-work routine should take place daily.  Students should also receive feedback on word solving strategies during independent reading. When circulating during independent reading, prompt: 

  • Which words were tricky in this section of text? 
  • What strategies did you use to read the word and figure out the word’s meaning? 
  • How many syllables does the word have? How do you know? 
  • What affixes does the word have? How do they influence the meaning of the word? 

Note: At this point it is assumed that students have mastered syllabication rules and this routine is meant to serve as a refresher and reminder of how to use the strategies they’ve learned in previous grades to chunk and tackle unknown words. Use the fluency check-point from unit one to determine which students need additional syllabication and word work supports.

Fluency Focus Areas?

  • Self-corrects when reading difficult words and sentences structures. 
  • Reads smoothly and with accuracy. 
  • Uses proper intonation to show interpretation of the passage. 
  • Reads with a rate appropriate to task and purpose

The main focus of this unit is on reading with smoothness, accuracy and expression. Building on work done in unit one, scholars will continue to read character dialogue with expression in order to match the mood/feelings of the characters. In this unit scholars will also begin to learn and use strategies for self-correcting when reading difficult words and sentence structures. Grace Lin includes a lot of challenging vocabulary and writes with varying sentence structures that may be unfamiliar to students. Therefore, scholars will need explicit modeling and instruction on how to read different sentences structures with the proper intonation, and how to self-correct when something doesn’t sound quite right. 

In this unit students will also continue to explore how the task and purpose for reading should influence reading rate. Based on modeling from unit one, students should understand that close reading lessons require a slower rate than reading for pleasure or for initial comprehension. 

Suggest Supports: 

  • Many lessons include more than one chapter. Therefore, one chapter should frequently be used to model and reinforce fluency strategies. Decide which chapter to read based on the demands of the chapter and the desired teaching point. 
  • During one of the first few lessons pick a section of text to read aloud and monitor how to read different sentence structures, particularly how to read sentences that have multiple commas, with the correct intonation. After reading a section aloud, have scholars read parts of the same section independently in order to mimic and practice using proper intonation. 
  • During one of the first few lessons pick another section of text to read aloud and monitor how to self-correct when faced with a difficult word. After reading aloud and modeling, prompt: 
    • What strategies does a fluent reading use to self-correct when reading difficult words? 
    • How does self-correcting help a reader better understand the text? 
    • What does it sound like for a reader to read smoothly? 
  • Chapters that are not read aloud should be read either in partners, as shared reading, or independently depending on the demands of the chapter. During this time, circulate to provide feedback and support on fluency. 
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon includes lots of very short chapters or embedded short stories. Pick 4-5 of the stories to use as fluency check-points over the course of the unit. Have students re-read a section of the text either to a partner, or to a teacher for more struggling students. Score the students on the Fluency Rubric. Use data from fluency check-points to help prioritize students for additional fluency supports throughout the unit. 
  • Continue to emphasize how to determine reading rate. In particular, reinforce that when closely reading a text a reader reads with a slower pace in order to notice and analyze author’s craft. Reading slowly and closely on the first reading, however, takes away from the overall meaning of the passage and limits initial comprehension.

The main vocabulary focus of this unit is on using context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words. Scholars will look for synonyms, definitions, examples, antonyms, explanations and plot clues as guides for figuring out the meaning of words in context. Students will also use knowledge of known affixes. In order to notice and use context clues, however, readers need to have a strong understanding of what is happening in the text at the point where the word is used. Therefore, reading comprehension should always be closely connected to word solving. 

Note: After using context and word solving strategies to break down unknown words, scholars can consult reference materials to find the pronunciation and determine or clarify the meaning of keywords.

Literary Terms?







figurative Language (simile, metaphor, idiom)

Roots and Affixes?





Chapters 1 – 12: quest, fortune, impulsive, resentfully, vowed, impractical, grueling, enviously, bitterness, inquiry, infuriated, eager, obedient, resentment, fatigue, awe, conceited, hesitate, inexplicable, insist, engross, content

Chapters 13 – 23: pity, mysterious, puzzled, clever, outsmart, cross, irritate, enraged, humble, deceive, guardian, majestic, confident, linger, ashamed, vaguely, self-pity, stubborn, content, amused, panic

Chapters 24 – 34: scolded, attain, reveal, despair, faith, ashamed, malicious, desperate, viciousness, intent, outraged, weariness, protest, gasp

Chapters 35 – end: appalled, taunted, tormented, peculiar, hesitant, misfortune, delightful, frantic, amused, agitated, glimpse, ignorant, pleaded, contentment, reluctant, absentminded

Idioms and Cultural References?

through thick and thin

back to the drawing board

don't put all your eggs in one basket

make ends meet

once in a blue moon

Role of storytelling in Chinese culture

Previous Connections?

Grace Lin author study in K2 and G1

Building Content Knowledge: 

  • Read the “About the Author” and learn about why Grace Lin chose to write the text. What role do stories play in Chinese culture? How did stories influence Grace Lin’s decision to write this story? 
  • Read the first few chapters of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Identify parallels between The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Understanding the Text and Standards: 

  • Read and annotate Where the Mountain Meets the Moon with essential questions and key understandings in mind. 
  • Take unit assessment and look for evidence of unit priority standards: 
    • Standard RL4.1 – What does it mean for scholars to refer to details in a text? How can this be taught and reinforced? 
    • Standard RL4.3 – What does it mean to describe a character in depth? What types of details are needed? What does it mean to describe the setting or event in depth? What types of details are needed? 
    • Standard RL4.4/L4.4/L4.5 – What strategies can scholars use to figure out the meaning of unknown words? Figurative language? How will the strategies be introduced and reinforced? 
  • Determine a habits of discussion focused based on target speaking and listening standards. Create a plan for introducing and reinforcing targeted focus. 
  • Determine strategies for text consumption (read aloud, shared reading, independent reading, partner reading) and when to use different strategies.  


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