The Wild Book

Students explore the difficulties of having a learning disability and how that influences a person's self-image, enabling them to see the world as a diverse place, by reading the core text The Wild Book.

Unit Summary

In this unit students will explore the difficulties of having a learning disability and how a learning disability influences the way a person feels about themselves by reading the core text, The Wild Book. Throughout the unit students will be challenged to think about multiple thematic topics—believing in ourselves, accepting differences, persevering through challenges, and trusting in family during difficult times. Exploring the themes will allow students to develop a deeper appreciation for people’s unique differences and struggles and learn to accept everyone for their strengths. It is our goal that this unit, combined with others in the curriculum, will help students see the world as a diverse place, not just in terms of race but also in terms of abilities, and that no matter what, everyone can be successful.

The text, The Wild Book, was chosen not only for its powerful themes but because Margarita Engle, the award-winning Latina author, uses verse to bring to life a difficult historical period in Cuba. The book tells the story of Margarita Engle's grandmother who grew up in Cuba during a time of lawlessness. Margarita Engle tells her grandmother's story in a way that helps readers build empathy and understanding of the hardships our ancestors may have faced. Simultaneously, students also see the power of poetry and its influence on Cuban culture in the early 20th century.  Seeing that despite the hardships the country faced, it was also a place of artistic beauty. 

This unit builds on previous units in which students have learned the features of poetry; however, in this unit students begin to see poetry as not just stand-alone poems but as an art form in which a poet can express himself or herself freely. When discussing and writing about poetry, students should be able to refer to the specific structural elements of a poem and explain how the elements enrich the text. This unit also challenges students to deeply analyze how authors develop theme within individual poems and also across a longer work. Students will analyze how characters are developed, how word choice and imagery are used to bring power and meaning to different verse, and how the author uses varying experiences to reveal theme. Doing deep text analysis of the poems on an individual level and also on a more broad level will help students understand the power of the various themes and how the author develops them.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Book: The Wild Book by Margarita Engle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2014)    —  1050L

Supporting Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What can we learn from hearing our ancestors' stories? 
  • What was the political and social climate of Cuba in 1912? How did it impact citizens? 
  • How does having a learning disability impact the way people see themselves and the way that others see them?

Vocabulary

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Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

advise agonizing anxious burden captive cringe defy discouraged dread duel dyslexia encouragement frantic fragrant ghastly heroine insist jagged looms ominous optimism outraged presence ransom relieved remedy rumba shrieked stalling swiftly taunt thrilling triumph transformed vanishing verses weary whooshed wisdom

Root/Affix

-ment

Content Knowledge and Connections

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Lesson Map

1

  • Timeline

Describe what life was like in Cuba in 1912. 

2

  • The Wild Book pp. 1 – 16

    RL.4.3

    RL.4.5

Explain how the narrator feels about word-blindness. 

3

  • “What is Dyslexia?”

    RL.4.3

Explain why learning to read is difficult for children with dyslexia and how this connects with the narrator in The Wild Book.

4

Writing

  • The Wild Book

    W.4.1

    W.4.1.a

    W.4.1.b

    W.4.1.c

Write a paragraph that explains what word-blindness is and how it impacts Fefa’s life.

5Essential Task

  • The Wild Book pp. 17 – 36

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Analyze how the setting of the story influences the main character. 

6

  • The Wild Book pp. 37 – 54

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Explain the meaning of lines 11-16 of “Trouble” and how the author develops character.

7

  • The Wild Book pp. 55 – 74

    RL.4.2

Describe Fefa's relationship with her family. 

8

  • The Wild Book pp. 75 – 91

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Explain what evidence the author includes to support the idea that the narrator feels safe and what she feels safe from.

9

  • The Wild Book pp. 92 – 106

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Explain what daydreams the narrator is referring to.

10

  • The Wild Book p. 107 — end

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Explain why the author calls the last chapter “Courage” and what this signifies.

11Essential Task

2 days

Writing

  • The Wild Book

    RL.4.2

    W.4.1

    W.4.1.a

    W.4.1.b

    W.4.1.c

Identify a theme in The Wild Book and write a paragraph explaining how the theme is shown through the speaker.

12

Discussion

  • All unit texts

    SL.4.1

    SL.4.1.c

    SL.4.1.d

    SL.4.2

Analyze and debate unit essential questions using details and understandings from the entire unit. 

13

  • Fish in a Tree — Ch. 1-3

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Analyze how having a learning disability impacts the way Ally sees herself and the way others see her.

14

  • Out of My Mind — Ch. 1-4

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Analyze how having a learning disability impacts the way Melody sees herself and the way others see her.

15

  • Rules — Ch. 1-2

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Analyze how having a learning disability impacts the way Catherine views David and Jason. 

16

Discussion

  • All unit texts

    SL.4.1

    SL.4.1.c

    SL.4.1.d

    SL.4.2

Analyze and debate unit essential questions using details and understandings from the entire unit. 

17

Assessment

18

Writing

  • All unit texts

    W.4.3

    W.4.3.a

    W.4.3.b

    W.4.3.d

    L.4.1.g

Represent unit themes and concepts by participating in a culminating task that requires deep understanding of unit texts.

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.4.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.4.1.g — Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., to, too, two; there, their).

  • L.4.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • 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.4.5 — Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.

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.4.1.c — Pose and respond to specific questions to clarify or follow up on information, and make comments that contribute to the discussion and link to the remarks of others.

  • SL.4.1.d — Review the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

  • SL.4.2 — Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Writing Standards
  • W.4.1 — Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information

  • W.4.1.a — Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer's purpose.

  • W.4.1.b — Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.

  • W.4.1.c — Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases (e.g., for instance, in order to, in addition).

  • W.4.3 — Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

  • W.4.3.a — Orient the reader by establishing a situationand introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.

  • W.4.3.b — Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.

  • W.4.3.d — Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.

Spiral Standards

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L.4.1

L.4.2

L.4.3

L.4.4

L.4.4.b

L.4.5

L.4.6

RF.4.3

RF.4.4

RI.4.1

RL.4.1

RL.4.10

RL.4.4

RL.4.9

SL.4.1

W.4.10

W.4.4

W.4.5

W.4.6

W.4.9.a