Roald Dahl

Students explore how two humorous works of Roald Dahl contain deeper messages about courage, friendship and stepping in to save others. 

Unit Summary

In this third-grade literature course, students explore the concepts of courage and friendship, beginning in Unit 1 with an author study of Roald Dahl. Even though Roald Dahl is known for writing silly, exaggerated stories with highly engaging characters, his stories have important themes and messages embedded in them. 

In addition to launching a year-long exploration of the themes of friendship and courage, these texts will also help establish a positive classroom culture as students analyze what it means to help others, be a good person, and show courage. We hope this unit, in connection with all of the units in our third-grade literature course, will help students develop a deep and nuanced understanding of both friendship and courage. 

In reading and writing, this unit focuses on setting a strong foundation for text analysis. Students will dive deep into characters and study the ways in which authors develop characters. They will analyze author’s word choice, both as a strategy for figuring out unknown words and as a way to improve their own narrative writing. Roald Dahl’s fun and playful writing style also allows for an exploration of how reading with expression and fluency helps develop comprehension.

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Unit Launch

Online learning modules that include short videos and readings to help teachers prepare to teach a unit.

 

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

  • Book: The Twits by Roald Dahl (Puffin Books, 2007)   —  750L

  • Book: The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl (Turtleback Books; Bound for Schools & Libraries ed. Edition, 2002)   —  600L

Supporting Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

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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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  • Why do people seek retaliation?
  • Is seeking retaliation an effective way to solve a problem? 
  • How does Roald Dahl capture a reader's attention? 

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Write complete sentences 
  • Edit for complete sentences 
  • Determine sentence types
  • Expand sentences by adding details that tell when, who, and why

Complete sentences are the foundation for all writing. In this unit, students learn to differentiate between a fragment and a complete sentence. They also learn to identify the four types of sentences and when each is appropriate. During the narrative writing block, students learn to expand simple sentences to make them more interesting. We recommend using our guide Sentence-Level Feedback and Support to provide individual and small-group feedback to ensure that all students are able to use complete sentences by the end of the unit. 

Narrative Writing Focus Areas

  • Brainstorm a logical sequence of events
  • Introduce characters and setting
  • Write events that unfold in a logical way and include a problem, solution, key events, and lesson
  • Use different strategies to start and end a story

The narrative focus for this unit is on writing creative narratives using Roald Dahl as a guide. At the end, there is a narrative writing boot camp in which students will learn to mimic Roald Dahl’s creative, descriptive style to write their own narratives. This unit serves as a foundation for the narrative writing done in later units. 

Related Teacher Tools:

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Read with expression and volume to match interpretation of the passage
  • Use proper intonation to show interpretation of the passage 
  • Adjust reading rate depending on the purpose for reading and task

The main focus of this unit is on reading with expression, particularly character dialogue, in order to show understanding of the text. In both The Enormous Crocodile and The Twits, the character dialogue reveals a lot about character motivations, feelings, and perspectives. A fluent reader should change his/her voice and intonation in order to match the mood/feelings of the characters.

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.

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Fluency Package

Additional tools to help monitor and support students’ reading fluency.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Prepare for discussion: Students learn how to prepare for academic discussions
  • Elaborate to support ideas: Students provide evidence or examples to justify and defend their point clearly
  • Use vocabulary: Students use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share their thoughts

In this unit, students predominantly show understanding of the text through academic discourse. Through a range of one-on-one, group, and teacher-led tasks, students grapple with the deeper meanings of both core texts. Since this is the first unit of the year, students will learn how to follow rules for discussions and how to come prepared. This will be reinforced through oral language protocols referenced in the unit. 

Students at this point will also be in the beginning stages of articulating ideas and participating in conversations. As noted in our Guide to Academic Discourse (below), when students first participate in discussions, the focus should be on helping students clarify and share their own thoughts. Later, students will be able to engage with the thinking of others, but to do so they need to be able to clearly articulate their own ideas.

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

"be foiled" "bear it" "beg your pardon" "pay back" arrange cling faint fearsome filthy fury gasp glimpse gradually gulp helpless hoisted horrid innocent instigate intends long magnificent nasty nonsense obedient ordinary pale peer pity presence revolting revenge schemes shrink smear smeared stubborn thistles

Root/Affix

-less -ly -some non- non-

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Vocabulary Package

Additional vocabulary tools that help reinforce and support student vocabulary development.

Lesson Map

1

  • The Enormous Crocodile pg. 1 – 13

    RL.3.3

Describe the Enormous Crocodile. 

2Essential Task

  • The Enormous Crocodile pg. 14 – 30

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Describe the Enormous Crocodile. 

3

Discussion

  • The Enormous Crocodile

    RL.3.3

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.d

    L.3.6

Analyze why people seek retaliation and if seeking retaliation is an effective way to solve a problem. 

4

Writing

    L.3.1.f

    L.3.1.i

    L.3.3.b

Explain the difference between a fragment and a complete sentence.

5

  • The Twits pg. 3 – 10

    RL.3.3

Describe Mr. and Mrs. Twit.

6

  • The Twits pg. 10 – 17

    RL.3.3

Describe Mr. and Mrs. Twit’s relationship and how they treat each other.

7

  • The Twits pg. 18 – 23

    RL.3.3

Explain what evidence Roald Dahl uses to show that Mr. Twit is an instigator.

8

  • The Twits pg. 24 – 31

    RL.3.3

Describe how Mr. and Mrs. Twit respond to the plan and why their responses are different. 

9

Writing

    L.3.1.f

    L.3.1.i

    L.3.3.b

Determine if a sentence is a complete sentence or incomplete sentence.

10

  • The Twits pg. 32 – 38

    RL.3.3

Describe what evidence Roald Dahl includes to describe where and how Mr. and Mrs. Twit live.

11

  • The Twits pg. 39 – 46

    RL.3.3

Describe what evidence Roald Dahl includes to help readers better understand Muggle-Wump and Roly-Poly bird and why they are important. 

12

  • The Twits pg. 46 – 61

    RL.3.3

Explain how Muggle-Wump has changed and why by analyzing key details that describe character traits, motivations and relationships.

13

  • The Twits — Page 62 - end

    RL.3.3

Evaluate the animals’ plan for revenge and if they got what they intended. 

14

Writing

    L.3.1.f

    L.3.1.i

    L.3.3.b

Identify the four different types of sentences and explain when they’re used.

15Essential Task

Discussion

  • The Twits

    RL.3.3

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.d

    SL.3.6

    L.3.6

Analyze why people seek retaliation and if seeking retaliation is an effective way to solve a problem. 

16Essential Task

Discussion

  • The Twits

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.d

    L.3.6

Determine two or three traits that describe the Twits in depth. 

17

Assessment

    SL.3.1

18

  • Roald Dahl on Writing

    SL.3.6

Explain what we can learn about writing stories from Roald Dahl and why it is important to study the work of authors by listening to interview clips from Roald Dahl describing his motivations for writing.

19

5 days

Narrative Writing

    W.3.3.a

    W.3.3.d

    L.3.1.i

    L.3.2.f

Write stories in the style of Roald Dahl.

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.3.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.3.1.f — Ensure subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement.

  • L.3.1.i — Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.

  • L.3.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.3.2.e — Use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words (e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness).

  • L.3.2.f — Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word families, position-based spellings, syllable patterns, ending rules, meaningful word parts) in writing words.

  • L.3.3 — Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

  • L.3.3.a — Choose words and phrases for effect.

  • L.3.3.b — Recognize and observe differences between the conventions of spoken and written standard English.

  • L.3.4 — Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning word and phrases based on grade 3 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

  • L.3.4.a — Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

  • L.3.5 — Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

  • L.3.6 — Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships (e.g., After dinner that night we went looking for them).

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.3.2 — Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

  • RL.3.3 — Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

  • RL.3.5 — Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.3.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.3.1.a — Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.

  • SL.3.1.d — Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

  • SL.3.6 — Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

Writing Standards
  • W.3.3 — Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

  • W.3.3.a — Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.

  • W.3.3.d — Provide a sense of closure.

Sprial Standards

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L.3.1.a

L.3.1.b

L.3.1.c

L.3.4.a

L.3.4.b

L.3.4.c

L.3.5.a

L.3.5.c

RF.3.3

RF.3.4

RL.3.1

RL.3.10

RL.3.4

RL.3.7

SL.3.1

SL.3.1.b

SL.3.6

W.3.10

W.3.4

W.3.5

W.3.6