Alternate Unit 1: Taking a Stand: Shiloh
Students grapple with how a person develops values, identities, and beliefs, and explore what it means to stand up for what you believe in, while reading and discussing the novel Shiloh.
Alternate Unit 1
In this unit, students grapple with the overarching question of how a person develops values, identities, and beliefs while reading the novel Shiloh. Marty, the main character in Shiloh, sees someone mistreating a dog and thinks it’s his right and responsibility to step in to save the dog, even if the dog doesn’t belong to him. His action raises a question for readers about when an individual should step in to take a stand against what he/she believes to be an injustice. His action also causes readers to consider how different people, depending on their values, identities, and beliefs, may have different opinions on what constitutes an injustice. Students will be challenged to take a stand on both of these ideas, based on the experiences and opinions of the different characters in Shiloh. Students will also be exposed to the idea of courage, and what it means to show courage, especially in situations where you are standing up for what you believe in. It is our hope that this unit will inspire students to grapple with these questions at a deeper level and understand the power of showing courage to fight for the things they believe in, no matter what obstacles they may face.
Shiloh was chosen as the text for this unit not only because of the powerful themes, but because of how Phyllis Reynolds Naylor artfully develops the setting, characters, and plot. In this unit, students will be challenged to think deeply about how the details an author includes help a reader better understand a character. The setting of Shiloh in rural West Virginia in the 1970s allows students to deeply analyze how an author develops a setting, and how the setting of a text influences the characters.
Throughout the unit, students 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 build their writing fluency, seeing the power of writing as a tool for understanding what they are reading. This unit also serves as the foundation for learning how to brainstorm and write strong literary analysis/opinion paragraphs, focusing on drafting topic sentences and determining supporting details. At the end of the unit, students write a narrative continuation of the unit text.
Please Note: In May 2023, 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: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000)
Rubric: Grade 4 Narrative Writing Rubric
Template: Opinion Writing Brainstorm Note-taker
Template: Single Paragraph Outline
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
Characters are dynamic and multi-faceted.
Characters can change over the course of a story.
Characterization can be direct or indirect.
Setting can influence character development.
Use single-paragraph outlines to brainstorm cohesive paragraphs.
Write strong topic sentences that clearly state an opinion.
Provide reasons to support a topic.
Link reasons using transition words and phrases.
Write concluding sentences.
Use relevant text details or background knowledge from the text to develop characters, ideas, or situations.
Brainstorm and draft a story with a logical sequence of events that unfolds naturally.
Use different strategies to start a story.
Use concrete words and descriptions to describe characters.
Use transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.
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 7, 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.
Build background on Shiloh by debating and analyzing the questions posed on the back of the book.
Explain how Marty knew Shiloh was hurting.
Describe why Marty was feeling so upset by using specific details to describe a character, setting or event in detail.
Explain the significance of the quotation at the end of chapter 3 and what it shows about Marty.
Describe where Shiloh takes place and compare and contrast Friendly, West Virginia, with where you live by using specific details from the text to describe setting in depth.
Describe what promise Marty makes to Shiloh and if he will be able to keep it or not.
Discussion & Writing
Describe Marty by using specific details to describe a character, setting, or event in detail.
Writers make their sentences better and more informative by adding more details.
Explain the significance of the statement “Judd is sure studying me hard. So is Dad.”
Describe why Phyllis Reynolds Naylor wrote Shiloh in first-person point of view.
Analyze how Marty shows courage in his interactions with Judd Travers.
Describe how Marty is changing.
Explain why Marty is feeling “as happy right then as you can get in your whole life” and what happens right afterwards to change the way he is feeling.
Explain what the statement at the end of chapter 9 shows about Marty and why he feels that way.
Analyze why Marty thinks that he still has time and whether this is the right decision.
Defend if Marty should be taking a stand against what he believes is an injustice and if he is doing it the most effective way.
Describe how Marty’s family feels about Shiloh, and why their feelings changed.
Describe the interaction between Judd Travers and Marty’s family.
Predict what Marty and Judd will do next.
Explain what bargain Marty makes with Judd, and evaluate whether it is a good deal.
Defend in what ways Marty opened his eyes.
Discussion & Writing – 2 days
Describe Marty by using specific details to describe character, setting, or event in detail.
Analyze and debate if Marty made the right decision and how his values influenced his decision making by stating a claim and supporting the claim with details from the text and unit.
Opinion Writing – 4 days
Write an opinion piece that defends whether or not Marty is no better than Judd Travers by using evidence throughout the text.
Narrative Writing – 4 days
Write the next chapter of Shiloh by writing a first-person narrative with a clear narrative sequence.
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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.
— Form and use prepositional phrases.
— Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.
— Use correct capitalization.
— Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed.
— Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.
— Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion).
— 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).
— Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.
— 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.
— 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.
— Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.
— 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.
— Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
— 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.
— Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.
— 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 narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
— Orient the reader by establishing a situationand introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
— Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
— Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.
— With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
— Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Use modal auxiliaries (e.g., can, may, must) to convey various conditions.
— 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.
— 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).
— 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.
— Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points.
— 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.
— 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.)
— 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.
— 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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