Unit 1: Defining Identity: Dyamonde Daniel and My Name is María Isabel
Students explore the concept of identity and what makes a person who they are by reading the core texts Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel and My Name is María Isabel.
In this unit, students explore the concept of identity and what makes a person who they are. By reading the texts Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes and My Name is María Isabel by Alma Flor Ada, students explore some of the different aspects of a person’s identity and how they should treat people who have different identities. In Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel, students see the importance of getting to know a person and not making judgments about a person based on aspects of their identity or their actions. In My Name is María Isabel, students learn about the importance of respecting and valuing people’s names. Throughout the unit, students also have multiple opportunities to reflect on their own identities and learn about their classmates’ identities. Based on Social Justice Standards: The Learning for Justice Anti-bias Framework (Learning for Justice), the unit strives to help students develop a positive self-identity while also affirming the dignity of other people to set the foundation for further units that explore diversity, justice, and action.
This unit sets a strong foundation for reading, writing, and academic discourse. Through daily reading, discourse, and writing, students dive deep into characters and study how authors develop characters. Students learn that characters are nuanced and that character traits, feelings, and motivations directly influence a character’s actions. Students also learn how to prepare for class discussions, determining which evidence best supports a particular idea and how to elaborate on that evidence. By writing daily in response to the Target Task question, students begin to build their writing fluency, seeing the power of writing as a tool for understanding what they are reading. Using both core texts as a guide, students end this unit with a narrative writing project, writing about an experience that shaped who they were.
Please Note: In December 2022, we released updated enhanced lesson plans for this unit, which now include answers to key questions and related student supports. You may notice discrepancies in previously downloaded/printed unit or lesson plans.
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Book: My Name Is María Isabel by Alma Flor Ada (Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition, 1995)
Book: Dyamonde Daniel (series) by Nikki Grimes (Puffin Books; Illustrated edition, 2010)
Rubric: Grade 3 Narrative Writing Rubric
Template: Third Grade Narrative Brainstorm Template
These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
Character traits describe what a character is like. Readers determine a character’s traits by noticing what they say, think and do.
Character feelings help a reader understand why a character does or says something in a particular moment.
Character motivation is what the character wants and why. Character motivation is often connected to character feelings and traits.
Brainstorm a logical sequence of events that includes a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Write events that unfold in a logical way and include a problem, solution, key events, and lesson.
Introduce characters and setting.
Include specific details to describe events, including using dialogue to show the response of characters to solutions.
Use different strategies to start and end a story.
Prepare for discussion.
Elaborate to support ideas. Provide evidence or examples to justify and defend a point clearly.
Use specific vocabulary. Use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share thoughts.
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 1, view our 3rd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.
Describe a few key aspects of your identity.
Describe what Dyamonde is like using details from the text.
Explain how Dyamonde’s life changed and how it impacts the way she feels.
Explain how Dyamonde feels about Free and what that shows about her.
Explain why Dyamonde is puzzled by Free and what it shows about her.
Analyze how Dyamonde and Free are similar.
Explain what else Free and Dyamonde learn about each other.
Analyze how Dyamonde and Free changed and what causes the change.
Describe Dyamonde by gathering details and participating in a class discussion.
Explain the difference between a fragment and a complete sentence. Write sentences to describe Dyamonde.
Narrative – 4 days
Write a story about what might happen if Free moved back to Detroit.
Explain how María Isabel feels about going to school.
Explain what problem María Isabel has at school and how it makes her feel.
Describe the story of your name and why it is important to honor other’s names.
Analyze if María Isabel feels welcome at her new school.
Explain why María Isabel is feeling thankful.
Determine what advice to give María Isabel about how to make it a happy time for everyone.
Explain what lesson María Isabel learns and how she learns it.
Describe María Isabel by gathering details and participating in a class discussion.
Writing – 5 days
Write a story about an experience that has shaped who you are.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Ensure subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement.
— Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Use commas and quotation marks in dialogue.
— Use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words (e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness).
— Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word families, position-based spellings, syllable patterns, ending rules, meaningful word parts) in writing words.
— Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
— Choose words and phrases for effect.
— Recognize and observe differences between the conventions of spoken and written standard English.
— 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.
— Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
— 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).
— 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.
— Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
— Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.
— 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.
— 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.
— Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.
— Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.
— Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
— Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
— Use dialogue and descriptions of actions, thoughts, and feelings to develop experiences and events or show the response of characters to situations.
— Provide a sense of closure.
— With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences.
— Form and use regular and irregular plural nouns.
— Use abstract nouns (e.g., childhood).
— Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
— Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known affix is added to a known word (e.g., agreeable/disagreeable, comfortable/uncomfortable, care/careless, heat/preheat).
— Use a known root word as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word with the same root (e.g., company, companion).
— Distinguish the literal and nonliteral meanings of words and phrases in context (e.g., take steps).
— Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
— Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
— Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
— Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.
— By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 2—3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
— Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
— With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.
(Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1—3 above.)
— With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
— Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
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