In this unit, students will explore the difficulties of having a learning disability and how a learning disability influences the way a person feels about themselves by reading the core text, The Wild Book. Throughout the unit, students will be challenged to think about multiple thematic topics—believing in ourselves, accepting differences, persevering through challenges, and trusting in family during difficult times. Exploring these themes will allow students to develop a deeper appreciation for people’s unique differences and struggles and learn to accept everyone for their strengths. It is our goal that this unit, combined with others in the curriculum, will help students see the world as a diverse place, not just in terms of race but also in terms of abilities, and that no matter what, everyone can be successful.
The text, The Wild Book, was chosen not only for its powerful themes but because Margarita Engle, the award-winning Latina author, uses verse to bring to life a difficult historical period in Cuba. The book tells the story of Margarita Engle's grandmother who grew up in Cuba during a time of lawlessness. Margarita Engle tells her grandmother's story in a way that helps readers build empathy and understanding of the hardships our ancestors may have faced. Simultaneously, students also see the power of poetry and its influence on Cuban culture in the early 20th century. Students see that despite the hardships the country faced, it was also a place of artistic beauty.
This unit challenges students to deeply analyze how authors develop themes within individual poems and also across a longer work. Students will analyze how characters are developed, how word choice and imagery are used to bring power and meaning to different verses, and how the author uses varying experiences to reveal themes. Doing deep text analysis of the poems on an individual level and also on a more broad level will help students understand the power of the various themes and how the author develops them.
Students will also deeply explore the setting, noticing how the setting of a story, in this case, Cuba, influences the way characters behave, foreshadows events, and provides a window into the society where the character lives. In previous units, students focused on sharing and elaborating on their own ideas when discussing the text. In this unit, students begin to build on their classmates' ideas, seeking to genuinely understand what their peers are saying by asking questions, adding on, or engaging in multiple exchanges.
Students continue to build their writing fluency by writing daily in response to the Target Task and continue to work on crafting opinion and literary analysis paragraphs, focusing on writing strong topic sentences, picking reasons, and using different strategies to elaborate on those reasons. Using the mentor texts from the unit as a guide and narrative writing done in previous units, students end the unit by writing a narrative continuation of one of the unit texts.
Please Note: In July 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.