Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

By reading and discussing Grace Lin's novel Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, students explore what it means to have good fortune and how families shape a person’s identity, values, and beliefs.

Unit Summary

In Grade 4 Fiction, students grapple with the overarching question of how a person develops values, identities, and beliefs. In this unit students dig deeply into how families shape a person’s identity, values, and beliefs and how relationships with others can change a person’s identity. Students 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. Students 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. Students 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 students will also begin to use summarization as a strategy to track the plot of a longer text.

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Unit Launch

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Texts and Materials

Core Materials

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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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  • How are people transformed through their relationships with others?
  • What does it mean to have good fortune?

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Expand sentences by adding details that tell who, what, where, when, or why 
  • Use coordinating conjunctions "because," "but," "and," "or," and "so" 
  • Use relative pronouns "who," "whose," "whom," "which," and "that" 

In this unit students continue to build their understanding of how to write complete sentences. Students continue to work on expanding sentences to tell who, what, where, when, or why. Students also begin to use coordinating conjunctions and relative pronouns to craft more complex sentences. 

Paragraph-Level Focus Areas

  • Draft strong paragraphs that include a strong topic sentence, 3-4 supporting details and a concluding sentence 
  • Determine which evidence best supports a particular topic sentence 

In this unit students continue to work on drafting strong paragraphs. In unit one students learned how to create an outline for a strong single-paragraph. In this unit, students learn how to turn the outline into a strong paragraph. They also learn how to determine which evidence best supports a particular topic sentence. 

Narrative Writing Focus Areas

  • Brainstorm a story with a logical sequence of events
  • Use dialogue and description to show a characters response to events
  • Use figurative language 
  • Edit for commas and quotation marks 

In unit one students learned how to brainstorm and draft narrative. In this unit, students continue to work on brainstorming narratives that fit a logical sequence of events. Students also are pushed to add more vivid description to their writing by including dialogue and figurative language.

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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, students will continue to read character dialogue with expression in order to match the mood/feelings of the characters. In this unit students 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, students 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.

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

  • 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. Work in this unit builds directly on work done in unit 1. 

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

absentminded affectionate agitated appalled astonished ashamed attain awed bitterness brutal cherished content contentment destined deceive delightful despair discomfort dire discontent eagerly engross enraged enthralled enviously envy expectantly fatigue forbidding fruitless gaped grueling guardian hesitate humble impractical impulsive inexplicable inquiry intent joyous malicious misfortune obedient outwit outraged peculiar protest reluctant resentfully resentment reveal sacrifice scrutinizing scold stubborn taunted tormented tragedy urge vaguely viciousness weariness winced worthless

Root/Affix

-ful -less -ness dis- im- in- mis- un-

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Vocabulary Package

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

Lesson Map

1

  • WMMM — Preview and Ch. 1

    RL.4.3

Describe Fruitless Mountain and Minli’s family.

2

  • WMMM — Ch. 2-3

    RL.4.3

Describe why Minli and her family act in certain ways.

3

  • WMMM — Ch. 4-6

    RL.4.3

    RL.4.4

Describe why Minli acts in certain ways.

4

2 days

Writing

  • WMMM — Ch. 1-6

    W.4.1.a

    W.4.1.b

    L.4.1.a

    L.4.1.f

    L.4.2.c

Write a paragraph that describes Minli.

5

  • WMMM — Ch. 7-9

    RL.4.3

    RL.4.4

Describe how Minli, Ma, and Ba are feeling and why.

6

  • WMMM — Ch. 10-11

    RL.4.3

    SL.4.1

    SL.4.1.c

Describe how Dragon was born and why the author includes this story.

7

  • WMMM — Ch. 12-13

    RL.4.3

Analyze the goldfish man’s perspective on fortune and if it is similar to Ma and Ba’s.

8

  • WMMM — Ch. 14-15

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Analyze the significance of "The Story of the Paper of Happiness".

9

  • WMMM — Ch. 16-17

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Explain what the quote “I’ll find a way” shows about Minli.

10

  • WMMM — Ch. 18-19

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Describe how Minli is beginning to change.

11Essential Task

  • WMMM — Ch. 20-21

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Analyze how Minli’s parents and Minli are starting to transform through their relationships with others.

12

  • WMMM — Ch. 22-23

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Describe the king.

13

2 days

Writing

  • WMMM — Ch. 7-23

    W.4.1

    W.4.1.a

    W.4.1.b

    L.4.1.a

    L.4.1.f

    L.4.2.c

Write a paragraph that describes Minli. 

14

  • WMMM — Ch. 24

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Summarize how Dragon ended up with the borrowed line.

15

  • WMMM — Ch. 25-27

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Explain why Minli feels ashamed and how she is changing.

16

  • WMMM — Ch. 28-31

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Summarize how the girl outsmarted the tiger.

17

  • WMMM — Ch. 32-34

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Explain what Minli might learn from the twins and grandfather.

18

  • WMMM — Ch. 35-37

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Describe the gift the people of Moon Rain give Minli and why it is an example of true generosity.

19

  • WMMM — Ch. 38-39

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Describe what idea Minli puts into action to get the message to the Old Man of the Moon and where the idea came from.

20

  • WMMM — Ch. 40-42

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Explain what lesson the Old Man of the Moon is trying to teach Wu Kang and how it connects to Minli’s quest for fortune.

21Essential Task

  • WMMM — Ch. 43-44

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Explain how Ma changes.

22

  • WMMM — Ch. 45-46

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Explain how Minli came to realize that she already had the best fortune.

23

  • WMMM — Ch. 47-48

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Analyze how Minli knew that all of her questions had been answered.

24Essential Task

Writing

  • WMMM

    RL.4.3

    W.4.1.a

    W.4.1.b

    L.4.1.f

    L.4.2.c

Write a paragraph that describes Minli.

25

Discussion

  • WMMM

    SL.4.1

    SL.4.1.c

    SL.4.2

Debate two essential questions using evidence and arguments from the entire unit and personal experience.

26

Assessment

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4 days

Narrative Writing

    W.4.3.a

    W.4.3.b

    W.4.3.d

    L.4.1.g

    L.4.2.b

    L.4.3

Write a narrative story that recounts a moment on Minli’s journey where things go wrong.

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.a — Use relative pronouns (who, whose, whom, which, that) and relative adverbs (where, when, why).

  • L.4.1.f — Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.

  • 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.

  • L.4.2.b — Use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text.

  • 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.

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.4.4 — 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).

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.4.2 — 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.4.3 — 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.

Sprial Standards

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L.4.4

L.4.4.b

L.4.5

L.4.6

RF.4.3

RF.4.4

RL.4.1

RL.4.10

RL.4.4

SL.4.1

W.4.10

W.4.4

W.4.5

W.4.6

W.4.9.a