Alternate Unit 6: Discovering Self: Bud, Not Buddy
Students learn about the Great Depression through the eyes of a ten-year-old African-American boy, analyzing themes of compassion, maturity and the idea of home, through the novel Bud Not Buddy.
Alternate Unit 6
In this historical fiction unit, students learn about the Great Depression through the eyes of a ten-year-old African-American boy by reading the core text Bud, Not Buddy. In Bud, Not Buddy, students join Bud on his quest to find his father. In doing so, students are exposed to what life was like during the Great Depression, especially for African-Americans. Over the course of the novel, students will grapple with lying, and if lying is always bad or if it can sometimes be a good thing, as they witness Bud lying as a way to survive. Students will also analyze and explore the idea of maturity and what it means to act one’s age versus acting more mature as Bud finds himself in situations most ten-year-olds will never experience. The theme of compassion and kindness also arises throughout the novel. Students will analyze how the compassionate actions of others help Bud on his journey while deepening their understanding of why it’s always important to help others, even when times are tough. It is our hope that this unit, in conjunction with the rest of the fourth-grade sequence, will help students develop empathy and understanding of the experiences of others.
Students continue to explore how the setting of a story influences the way characters behave, foreshadows events, and provides a window into the society where the character lives. Building on work done in previous units, students also review the different pathways and patterns authors use to reveal the theme of a story. Because Bud, Not Buddy includes a lot of vivid descriptive language, students analyze and unpack the figurative language in the text in order to build a deeper understanding of characters and events.
This unit also includes two core texts - a fiction text and an informational text. Therefore, over the course of the entire unit, students will work on using the information they learn from the nonfiction text about the Great Depression to confirm and deepen their understanding of what life was like during the Great Depression.
When discussing the text students focus on critiquing and analyzing the reasoning of others, using what they learned from previous units on how to clarify and share their own thoughts and how to engage with the thinking of others to push the discussion to a deeper level. Students also have multiple opportunities to write literary analysis/opinion paragraphs, using what they learned from previous units about topic sentences, supporting details, and elaboration to write multiple-paragraph essays in response to a question. The unit culminates with students writing a final informational report, synthesizing what they have learned about the Great Depression.
Please Note: Updated enhanced lesson plans for this unit, including answers to key questions and related student supports will be released in early 2024.
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Book: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (Laurel Leaf, 2014)
Book: Children of the Great Depression by Russell Freedman (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2010)
Template: Boxes and Bullets Graphic Organizer
Template: Two-Paragraph Outline
Rubric: Grade 4 Informational Writing Rubric
Template: Great Depression Research Note-Taker
These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Download Cold Read Assessment
Download Cold Read Assessment Answer Key
Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit. Essential Tasks can be found in the following lessons:
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
The setting of a story influences the way characters behave, foreshadows events, and provides a window into the society where the character lives.
Authors use figurative language to help a reader build a deeper understanding of an event or idea.
Authors reveal a theme of a story using predictable pathways and patterns.
Group related ideas together to support the topic sentence or opinion.
Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.
Link opinions and reasons using words and phrases.
Provide a concluding statement or section.
Introduce a topic clearly.
Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.
Link ideas using words and phrases.
Question and clarify to build understanding. Seek to clarify a particular point a peer makes by asking follow-up questions.
Build on and challenge partner’s ideas.
Synthesize to build deeper meaning. Synthesize everything from the discussion into a coherent statement at the end of the discussion.
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
"on the lam"
"in hot water"
"talking someone's ear off"
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 11, view our 4th 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.
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
Explain what life was like during the Great Depression.
Analyze and explain how Bud is more mature than other ten year olds.
Defend if Bud’s actions from chapters 3 and 4 show that he is just like other ten year olds.
Describe the memories Bud has when he looks through the suitcase and how they impact him.
Analyze the ways in which Bud acts his age and in what ways he acts more mature than his age.
Describe what life was like in Hooverville and how the description of Hooverville helps the reader better understand the Great Depression.
Explain why Hoovervilles were created.
Analyze the ways in which Bud carries his family around inside of him.
Explain how the flyer impacts Bud’s life.
Writing – 4 days
Write a multiple-paragraph essay that describes what the Great Depression was and how the setting influences how the story unfolds.
Explain how the idea that Herman E. Calloway was Bud’s father started.
Defend if Bud acts his age or if he acts more mature when interacting with the man on the side of the road.
Describe how Bud’s perspective of the man changes.
Summarize Bud’s experience with the Sleet family.
Identify details that help support the development of different thematic topics.
Analyze and debate unit-essential questions by stating a claim and then using evidence from the entire text and unit to support the claim.
Write a multiple-paragraph essay to answer a unit essential question.
Defend if Bud does or does not act his age in the chapter.
Describe the way different members of the band treat Bud and how their responses influence Bud.
Describe what Bud realizes in this chapter and what effect it has on him.
Analyze how Herman E. Calloway responds to Bud being in his house and how Herman’s actions influence Bud.
Describe what can be learned about Mr. Calloway, Miss Thomas, and the other members of the band.
Explain what Bud and Herman learn about each other and how they both respond.
Explain why the author chose to begin and end the book with “Here we go again” and how the difference between the phrases captures Bud’s growth as a character.
Identify the themes that are present in Bud, Not Buddy and how they are developed over the course of the novel.
Analyze and discuss unit essential questions by stating a claim and supporting the claim with details from the entire unit.
Write a multiple-paragraph essay to answer a unit essential question.
Informative Writing – 4 days
Write an informational report about a topic that Christopher Paul Curtis refers to in Bud, not Buddy by conducting research using multiple sources.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.
— Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
— Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
— Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
— Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
— 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).
— 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).
— Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.
— Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.
— 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.
— Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points.
— Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information
— 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.
— Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases (e.g., for instance, in order to, in addition).
— Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
— Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
— Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
— Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
— Link ideas within categories of information using words and phrases (e.g., another, for example, also, because).
— Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
— With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
— With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.
— Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
— Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
— Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 4 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
— Use common, grade-appropriate Greek and Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., telegraph, photograph, autograph).
— Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
— Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal precise actions, emotions, or states of being (e.g., quizzed, whined, stammered) and that are basic to a particular topic (e.g., wildlife, conservation, and endangered when discussing animal preservation).
— Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
— Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
— Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
— By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grades 4—5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
— Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
— Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
— Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.
— Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion); use formal English when appropriate to task and situation.
— Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
— Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented
— Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
(Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1—3 above.)
— Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
— 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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