Pinky and Rex

By connecting with the characters from the easily relatable series Pinky and Rex, students learn that it's okay to be different and consider what it means to be a good friend.

Unit Summary

In this unit, students grapple with common second grade themes through reading the easily relatable series Pinky and Rex. Through connecting with Pinky and Rex, students will learn that it’s okay to be different and to be proud of who they are, no matter what others may think. Students will also learn about what it truly means to be a good friend and how friends can support and stick up for one another in a variety of ways. They will also see that it’s okay for boys and girls to be friends, even best friends. This unit builds onto multiple units from first grade in which students learned what it means to be a good friend and a good person. It is our hope that this unit deepens the understandings developed in previous grades by giving students characters to connect with. These connections are especially important for students who are struggling with some of the same issues and aren’t sure how to process or talk about them.

In reading this unit is a transition from units that were predominately read aloud into a unit that is almost entirely shared or independent reading. Pinky and Rex are perfect texts for second graders, not only because of the important themes they teach but because of the way in which James Howe develops character and plot over the course of the series. As readers, students will be challenged to notice the descriptive details James Howe includes to show how characters feel in response to different problems and challenges. They will also be challenged to notice how a character’s dialogue shows what they are truly feeling and how the different “said” words James Howe includes deepens that understanding. Students will also begin to analyze why certain words in a text are written in italics and what that shows about how a character is feeling. This deep dive into character will allow students to truly understand the characters and the lessons that they are learning. By reading four books in the series, students will also have the chance to see how characters develop over the course of multiple texts. By the fourth text, students will have a deeper, more nuanced understanding of all three characters.

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

Supporting Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

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Assessment

This assessment accompanies Unit 3 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What does it mean to be best friends?
  • How can friends help and support one another?
  • Why is it important to stand up for yourself and what you believe?
  • Why is okay to be different?
  • How can I track character change over the course of a story? Over the course of multiple stories?
  • How do strong readers glean meaning from any text as they read? 
  • How do strong readers approach complex texts? 
  • How do strong readers articulate a strong central message or lesson after they finish reading? 
  • How do authors make strategic choices with craft and structure to help convey their central message or lesson?

Reading Enduring Understandings

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  • Dialogue is a conversation between two or more characters in a story. Dialogue helps make stories and characters come to life by revealing more about character’s thoughts, feelings and actions. Authors use quotation marks to show when characters are speaking. 
  • Reading books in a series helps a reader connect with and build a deeper understanding of characters. Readers can use what they know from one book in a series to help make sense of other books in a series. 
  • The central message of a story is the big idea or lesson the story teaches. Knowing which events are most important in a story helps a reader figure out the story’s lesson or central message. 
  • Illustrations help a reader build a deeper understanding of what is happening in the text. Illustrations often include additional details that contribute to a reader’s understanding of characters. 
  • Authors often use dashes or italics to call attention to certain words or phrases in a text. 

The main reading focus of this unit is on understanding characters. By reading multiple books in a series, students will be able to develop a more nuanced understanding of Pinky, Rex and Amanda. With a focus on understanding dialogue, illustrations and nuanced description, students will dig deeper into how authors develop characters. At this level the central message of a text is often directly connected to character change or lessons that characters learn. Therefore, having a deeper and more nuanced understanding of character will help students understand the central message of each text.

Writing Focus Areas

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Language Focus Areas

  • Uses complete sentences
  • Uses correct capitalization

In this unit students will begin to receive targeted feedback and mini-lessons on using complete sentences and correct capitalization. Once a week a grammar mini-lesson should replace the writing-about-reading mini-lesson. Then students should receive daily targeted feedback on both language focus areas across all writing blocks.

Writing-About-Reading Focus Areas

  • Makes an accurate claim that demonstrates comprehension of the text
  • Uses relevant and accurate details, facts, and other varied evidence from the text(s)
  • Groups information into a paragraph structure that introduces a topic and provides details
  • Uses specific vocabulary from the text

In unit one, students established the routines and procedures for writing about reading and began to experiment with writing an accurate claim that demonstrated comprehension of the text. In this unit students will continue to focus on writing an accurate claim that shows understanding of the text or question. Students will then be pushed even further to think about the relevant and accurate details, facts, and other evidence from the text that support the claim. In second grade, students do not need to quote specific evidence from the text, but they should be able to reference specific details, facts, or other evidence that supports the claim. The evidence they pick for this unit does not need to be the best evidence, but it should match with the claim. In this unit students will also begin to understand paragraph structure and that the claim they are making is the “topic” for the paragraph.

Foundational Skills

Phonics and Word Recognition Focus Areas

  • Decode regularly spelled two-syllable words with long vowels
  • Decode words with common inflectional endings (-ed, -ing, -ly) 
  • Recognize and read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words
  • Decode and recognize contractions and compound words. 

For the most part the Pinky and Rex series books are written with decodable language, however, there are a few areas of complexity within each text. Therefore, targeted phonics and word recognition models should be added to help support students ability to decode and understand the core text. After a word analysis strategy is introduced, it should be spiraled and reinforced across all texts and lessons. 

  • Based on the text complexity of Pinky and Rex, suggested guidance on decoding and recognizing compound words and inflectional endings (-ed) are included in lesson frames. 
  • Based on the text complexity of Pinky and Rex and the Bully, suggested guidance on decoding multisyllabic words and inflectional endings (-ing) are included in lesson frames. 
  • Based on the text complexity of Pinky and Rex and the Spelling Bee, suggested guidance on contractions and apostrophes are added.

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Readers use proper intonation to show interpretation of the text. 
  • Readers read with expression and volume to match interpretation of the passage. 

The main focus of this unit is on reading with expression, particularly character dialogue, in order to show understanding of the text. In all four core texts the character dialogue reveals a lot about character motivations, feelings, and perspectives. Therefore a large focus of this unit should be on including opportunities for students to practice rereading dialogue with intonation, expression, and volume to match interpretation of the passage. 

Suggest Supports: 

  • Teachers should pick a section of text each day to use as a model for features of text complexity and fluent reading. After reading a section of text aloud, teachers should prompt students to explain what they noticed about the way they were reading. Students should then have a chance to mimic or practice the teacher model. 
  • All of the Pinky and Rex texts include a lot of dialogue. Students should be challenged to read the dialogue in multiple different ways, depending on needs and placement within the unit. Note: Reading dialogue with expression is best practiced when rereading a text so that students have had a chance to determine how characters are feeling and what expression to use prior to practicing fluency. Rereading should happen during each lesson, even if it’s just a page or two of the text. 
    • When rereading together as a class, groups of students could be responsible for particular character dialogue. (E.g. everyone shared reads a page together, and then the class goes back and rereads with a lense on expression and each student has a different role). 
    • When rereading in partners students could each assume the role of a particular character. 
    • Teachers could create fluency scripts using the dialogue from each core text. Students could act out different sections of each text. 
  • If needed, add an additional fluency and rereading lesson in between when students finish the book and when students retell and analyze the characters. 

Vocabulary

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Literary Terms

dialogue, character relationship

Roots and Affixes

Re-, Un-

Text-based

insisted, groaned, mumbled, muttered, mocking, scowled, advice, supposed, familiar, smirking, urged, sighed, dreaded, admitted, repeated, fool, muttered, declared, smirked, stormed, shrugged, helplessly, beamed

Content Knowledge and Connections

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  • Explain what it means to truly be best friends.
  • Explain different ways that friends can help and support one another.
  • Explain why it is important to stand up to bullies and be proud of who you are.
  • Explain what it means to be different and why that is okay.

Intellectual Prep

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Build Content Knowledge:

  • Research and learn about James Howe and his inspirations for writing Pinky and Rex.
  • Research and learn about the power of reading books in a series. How does reading books in a series help a reader?

Internalize the Text and Standards:

  • Read all unit texts and notice evidence of essential questions and key standards. 
  • Take unit assessment and notice evidence of key standards and how they are assessed. 
  • Unpack unit priority standards and identify key habits of good readers. Determine which habits to introduce and reinforce over the course of the unit. 
  • Determine a habits of discussion focus based on targeted speaking and listening standards. Create a plan for how to introduce and reinforce the habits over the course of the unit. 
  • Brainstorm how to track character traits and relationships across multiple texts. 
  • Brainstorm how to track “said” words and what they show about how a character is feeling. 
  • Brainstorm strategies for differentiation based on reading levels of students.

Classroom Routines and Procedures:

  • Determine procedures for shared reading, partner reading, and independent reading.

Lesson Map

1

  • P&R — Ch. 1

    RL.2.3

    RL.2.5

    RF.2.4

Describe Pinky and Rex’s relationship and Pinky and Amanda’s relationship by using details from the text to describe characters and character relationships.

2

  • P&R — Ch. 2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Describe Pinky and Rex’s relationship by using details from the text to describe characters and character relationships.

3

  • P&R — Ch. 3

    RL.2.3

    RL.2.6

    RF.2.4

Explain how Amanda’s dialogue shows how she feels about being at the museum by using dialogue and details to show how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

4

  • P&R — Ch. 4

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Describe the lesson that Amanda, Pinky, and Rex learned by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges and what lesson they learn from the major events.

5

Writing

  • P&R

    RL.2.3

    RL.2.5

    W.2.1

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

    SL.2.6

Describe Pinky, Rex, and Amanda and how each character responds to major events and challenges by stating a claim and then providing supporting evidence from the entire text.

6

  • P&R and the Bully — Ch. 1-2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain why Pinky is embarrassed by what happens with Mrs. Morgan by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

7

  • P&R and the Bully — Ch. 3-4

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain in what ways Kevin is a bully and how his actions influence everyone around him, especially Pinky, by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

8

  • P&R and the Bully — Ch. 5

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain what advice Mrs. Morgan gave Pinky and why by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

9

  • P&R and the Bully — Ch. 6-7

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain how Pinky changed and what lesson he learned by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges and what lesson they learn from the major events.

10

Writing

  • P&R and the Bully

    RL.2.3

    RL.2.5

    W.2.1

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

    SL.2.6

Describe Pinky, Rex, and Amanda and how each character responds to major events and challenges by stating a claim and then providing supporting evidence from the entire text.

11

  • P&R and the Spelling Bee — Ch. 1-2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain how Pinky and Rex feel about the spelling bee and how their feelings change by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

12

  • P&R and the Spelling Bee — Ch. 3-4

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Describe how Pinky’s feelings change over the course of the chapters and what causes the change by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

13

  • P&R and the Spelling Bee — Ch. 5-6

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain how Pinky and Rex changed and what lesson they learned by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges and what lesson they learn from the major events.

14

Writing

  • P&R and the Spelling Bee

    RL.2.3

    RL.2.5

    W.2.1

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

    SL.2.6

Describe Pinky, Rex, and Amanda and how each character responds to major events and challenges by stating a claim and then providing supporting evidence from the entire text.

15

  • P&R and the School Play — Ch. 1-2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain why Pinky is mad at Rex and if it is fair that he is mad at her by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

16

  • P&R and the School Play — Ch. 3-4

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain how Pinky and Rex changed and what lesson they learned by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges and what lesson they learn from the major events.

17

  • P&R and the School Play — Ch. 5-6

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Describe what happens during the play and what lesson Pinky and Rex learn by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges and what lesson they learn from the major events.

18

Writing

  • P&R and the School Play

    RL.2.3

    RL.2.5

    W.2.1

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

    SL.2.6

Describe Pinky, Rex, and Amanda and how each character responds to major events and challenges by stating a claim and then providing supporting evidence from the entire text.

19

  • All unit vocabulary

Distinguish shades of meaning among closely related verbs and closely related adjectives by sorting and interacting with target unit vocabulary.

20

Discussion

  • All unit texts

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

    SL.2.6

Debate two essential questions by participating in a class discussion by stating a claim and providing evidence from the unit.

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Assessment

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Project

  • All unit texts

    RL.2.6

Apply deep knowledge of characters gained from the unit in order to create a Facebook page showing their relationships, character traits, and likes/dislikes.

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.2.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.2.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.2.4 — Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.

  • L.2.5 — Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

  • L.2.6 — Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.2.1 — Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

  • RL.2.2 — Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

  • RL.2.3 — Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

  • RL.2.5 — Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.

  • RL.2.6 — Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

  • RL.2.9 — Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.

  • RL.2.10 — By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2—3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

Reading Standards: Foundational Skills
  • RF.2.4 — Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.2.1 — Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

  • SL.2.2 — Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

  • SL.2.6 — Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

Writing Standards
  • W.2.1 — Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.

  • W.2.8 — Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.