A Wrinkle in Time

In this final 5th grade unit, students read about the nuances of good versus evil and how unconditional love can overpower darkness in A Wrinkle in Time, the first science fiction novel in our curriculum.

Unit Summary

In this culminating unit of fifth grade, students read the classic text A Wrinkle in Time. Over the course of the novel, students explore the nuances of good versus evil and how ultimately unconditional love can overpower darkness and hate. Students will also experience the power of believing in oneself and trusting those around you, by watching the main character’s self-confidence evolve over the course of the novel. This novel is the first science fiction novel that students are exposed to over the course of the curriculum. Exposing students to science fiction is important for not only building engagement and reaching a variety of readers, but also for exploring common themes across multiple genres. It is our hope that this novel, in connection with others in the sequence, empowers students to believe in themselves and the power of love and kindness. It is also our hope that this unit inspires students to read and engage with books from a wide range of genres. 

As noted above, A Wrinkle in Time is the first science fiction novel that students read and analyze together. Therefore, over the course of the novel, students will be pushed to notice and analyze different genre features. In particular, the multiple settings are integral for both the development of plot and the suspense and intrigue common in science fiction. As a result, students will have multiple opportunities to compare and contrast the different settings. In this unit, students will also spend a lot of time analyzing and noticing author’s craft, particularly the use of sentence structure and syntax as a way to develop tone and emotion. Paired with the graphic novel version of the text, students will also compare and contrast the way Madeleine L’Engle uses description and voice to develop a scene versus how the graphic novel develops a scene. Since this is the culminating unit of the year, students will also review characterization, theme, using context clues to figure out the meaning of words, and plot.

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  • Unit Launch
  • Enhanced Lesson Plans
  • Essential Task Guides
  • Student Handout Editor
  • Google Classroom Integration
  • Vocabulary Package
  • Fluency Package
  • Data Analysis Package
 

Unit Launch

Prepare to teach this unit with videos and short readings that cover:

  • Key standards
  • Essential questions
  • Text complexity
  • Monitoring student progress
 

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

  • Book: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (Square Fish, Reprint edition, 2007)   —  740L

Supporting Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What characteristics and traits help people succeed in the face of challenge? 
  • What are the characteristics of sci-fi/fantasy texts and how do these apply to a Wrinkle in Time

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Write simple, compound, and complex sentences 

There are no new sentence focus areas in this unit. During this unit students will practice responding to daily Target Task questions using a variety of sentence constructions. ​​​​

Paragraph-Level Focus Areas

  • Outline and draft multiple paragraph essays
  • Craft topic and concluding sentences 
  • Elaborate on details

In this unit students continue to work on drafting multiple paragraph essays. Students review how to craft topic and concluding sentences, how to elaborate on details, and how to include details from multiple texts. ​​​​​

Opinion Writing Focus Areas

  • State an opinion
  • Provide reasons and details to support an opinion
  • Include transition words and phrases
  • Provide a concluding statement 

In this unit students will write their last opinion piece. Building on what they learned in previous units, students will practice stating an opinion, providing reasons and details to support an opinion, use transition words, and provide an effective concluding statement. ​​​​​​

Related Teacher Tools:

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Self-correct when reading difficult words and sentence structures.
  • Read smoothly and with accuracy.
  • Use proper intonation to show interpretation of the passage.
  • Read with a rate appropriate to task and purpose.

The fluency focus of this unit is on reviewing all previously taught fluency strategies. Use data from previous fluency check-points and the demands of the text to determine which fluency supports to include in the unit. 

Teachers should plan to do fluency checkpoints at several points throughout a unit. Have students grade themselves or a friend on the Reading Fluency Rubric. If a student scores a 2 or lower on any of the sections, we offer some ideas for additional fluency instruction and support in our Fluency Assessment Package.

At the end of each unit, teachers should assess each student using the unit’s fluency assessment found in the Fluency Assessment Package. This assessment is quick. Teachers should plan to pull students one-on-one to do this while the rest of the class is independently reading or writing.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Question and clarify to build understanding. Students seek to clarify a particular point a student makes by asking follow up questions. 
  • Build on and challenge partner's ideas. Students challenge the thinking of their peers.
  • Synthesize to build deeper meaning. Students synthesize everything they heard into a coherent statement at the end of the discussion 

The main focus of this unit is getting students to critique and analyze the reasoning of others. At this point, students should be able to clarify and explain their own thoughts using ideas and vocabulary from the text. They should also be able to engage with the thinking of others by building on, paraphrasing, and asking clarifying questions. Now students will work on engaging with others at a much deeper level. 

Instead of just building on to a partner’s idea, students should begin to challenge his or her thinking. To do so, students may focus on a particular idea or example, and then explain why they disagree. Or, multiple students should be pushed to analyze and critique a particular problem or line of thought. The idea is that students are able to use discussion strategies to go deep into a particular point or idea. 

Finally, students should be able to synthesize key ideas from the discussion. The synthesis should hit on the key takeaways and learning of the discussion. This is to ensure that students walk away from the discussion with new or deeper understandings of the topic.

Guidance on teacher moves to support these discussion focuses can be found in our Guide to Academic Discourse (below).

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

aberration agony antagonistic anguished appalling apprehension arrogance assimilate belligerent compulsion contradicted corrosive delinquent despondency diction dimension disillusion dignity dubiously earnestly emanate essence fallible fatal frantic hypnotize hysterical illusion impenetrable inadvertently incomprehensible insolent intoned indignantly loathing metamorphose monotonous nondescript ominous omnipotent peril primitive resentment resilience seldom solemnly somber subdued tangible tenacity trepidation unsubstantial verbalize

Root/Affix

-able -ment -ous -sion -tion in- non- un-

Content Knowledge and Connections

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Notes for Teachers

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  • Madeleine L’Engle wrote this book during the 1960s, when the idea of space travel was new and interesting to people in the United States. It was also a time when the Soviet Union and the United States were competing with each other in the field of space exploration. Research and learn about the time period in order to provide context for the time and place in which the book was written. 
  • Madeleine L’Engle also choses to reflect political themes of the time period. For example, life on Camazotz is similar to how Americans envisioned life in the Soviet Union at the time, where people’s freedom and individuality were limited. Research and learn about the time period in order to provide context for comparison. 
  • In some analyses of A Wrinkle in Time, the triumph of love is considered an allusion to Christian theology. L’Engle makes a few explicit references to the New Testament, but the references simply stand as a starting point for exploring the larger universal theme of good vs. evil and love vs. hate. The references to Christianity are not discussed or referred to within this unit plan. 

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.

With Fishtank Plus, you can download the Fluency Package for this unit, which includes a unit-specific fluency assessment passage and additional tools to help monitor and support students’ reading fluency. Download Sample

Lesson Map

1

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 7 – 18 — until, "Just give"

    RL.5.3

    L.5.3.b

Describe Meg using specific details from the text.

2

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 18 – 27

    RL.5.3

Explain how each character responds to Mrs Whatsit and how their responses help build a deeper understanding of character. 

3

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 28 – 44

    RL.5.3

    RL.5.5

Analyze Charles Wallace and Meg’s relationship.

4

  • Graphic Novel pp. 52 – 62

    RL.5.7

Analyze how visual elements contribute to the meaning and tone of a text.

5

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 45 – 63

    RL.5.3

    RL.5.5

    L.5.3.b

Use details from the chapter to describe what happened to Mr. Murray.

6

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 64 – 73

    RL.5.3

Describe what it was like to tesser and the details the author includes to help the reader visualize what it was like to tesser.

7

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 73 – 83

    RL.5.3

Describe the setting of Uriel and explain how the setting influences the mood of the story.

8Essential Task

  • A Wrinkle in Time — 64-67, 73-83

  • Graphic Novel — 102-110, 117-134

    RL.5.7

    RL.5.9

    W.5.9

Compare and contrast the two representations of A Wrinkle in Time by analyzing and explaining how the genre features of both contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text.

9

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 84 – 1011

    RL.5.2

    RL.5.3

    RL.5.5

Analyze why Madeleine L’Engle might have included the scene with the Medium.

10

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 102 – 115 — until top of page

    RL.5.2

    RL.5.3

Explain what gifts and advice Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which give each of the children and the significance of each gift.

11

Discussion

  • A Wrinkle in Time

    RL.5.2

    SL.5.1

    SL.5.6

Discuss unit essential questions using evidence from the first half of the book.

12

Writing

  • A Wrinkle in Time

    W.5.1

    W.5.9

Write a multiple-paragraph essay to answer a unit essential question.

13Essential Task

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 115 – 126

    RL.5.2

    RL.5.3

Describe Camazotz and how the setting influences the mood of the story.

14

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 115 – 126

  • Graphic Novel pp. 182 – 199

    RL.5.7

    RL.5.9

Compare and contrast the two representations of Camazotz from A Wrinkle in Time by analyzing and explaining how the genre features of both contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text.

15

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 127 – 146

    RL.5.3

    RL.5.5

Summarize what happened between Charles Wallace and The Man with Red Eyes.

16

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 147 – 158

    RL.5.3

Describe Charles Wallace’s transformation and how it impacts Meg and Calvin.

17

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 159 – 168

    RL.5.3

    RL.5.7

Identify and analyze quotations that highlight Meg’s response to being reunited with her father.

18

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 169 – 179

    RL.5.3

    RL.5.7

Summarize what happens when they meet IT.

19

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 180 – 193

    RL.5.3

    RL.5.5

Defend if Meg’s thoughts towards her father are or are not justifiable.

20

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 194 – 211

    RL.5.2

    RL.5.3

Analyze Meg’s relationship with Aunt Beast.

21

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 212 – 223

    RL.5.2

    RL.5.3

Defend if it was the right decision to have Meg return for Charles Wallace.

22

  • A Wrinkle in Time pp. 224 – 232

    RL.5.2

    RL.5.3

Explain how Meg saves Charles Wallace.

23

Discussion

  • A Wrinkle in Time — entire text

    RL.5.2

    SL.5.1

    SL.5.6

Determine a theme of A Wrinkle in Time and explain how the theme is developed over the course of the novel. Discuss unit essential questions.

 

24

Writing

  • A Wrinkle in Time

    W.5.1

    W.5.9

Write a multiple-paragraph essay to answer a unit essential question.

25

Assessment

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3 days

Opinion Writing

  • A Wrinkle in Time

    W.5.1

 Write an opinion piece defending if A Wrinkle in Time should or should not be on the banned book list. 

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.5.3.b — Compare and contrast the varieties of English (e.g., dialects, registers) used in stories, dramas, or poems.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.5.2 — Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

  • RL.5.3 — Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).

  • RL.5.5 — Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.

  • RL.5.6 — Describe how a narrator's or speaker's point of view influences how events are described.

  • RL.5.7 — Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

  • RL.5.9 — Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g., mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.5.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.5.6 — Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task and situation.

Writing Standards
  • W.5.1 — Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information

  • W.5.9 — Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Sprial Standards

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L.5.1

L.5.2

L.5.4

L.5.4.b

L.5.5

L.5.6

RF.5.3

RF.5.4

RL.5.1

RL.5.10

RL.5.4

SL.5.1

W.5.10

W.5.4

W.5.5

W.5.9