Believing in Yourself: The Wild Book

Students explore the difficulties of having a learning disability and how that influences a person's self-image, enabling them to see the world as a diverse place, by reading the core text The Wild Book.

Unit Summary

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 the 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.  Seeing that despite the hardships the country faced, it was also a place of artistic beauty. 

This unit builds on previous units in which students have learned the features of poetry; however, in this unit students begin to see poetry as not just stand-alone poems but as an art form in which a poet can express himself or herself freely. When discussing and writing about poetry, students should be able to refer to the specific structural elements of a poem and explain how the elements enrich the text. This unit also challenges students to deeply analyze how authors develop theme 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 verse, and how the author uses varying experiences to reveal theme. 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.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Book: The Wild Book by Margarita Engle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2014)    —  1050L

Supporting Materials

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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  • What can we learn from hearing our ancestors' stories? 
  • What was the political and social climate of Cuba in 1912? How did it impact citizens? 
  • How does having a learning disability impact the way people see themselves and the way that others see them?

Vocabulary

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Text-based

advise agonizing anxious burden cringe defy discouraged dread dyslexia encouragement frantic fragrant heroine insist jagged looms ominous optimism outraged presence ransom relieved remedy shrieked stalling taunt thrilling triumph transformed vanishing verses weary whooshed wisdom

Root/Affix

-ment

To see all the vocabulary for this course, view our 4th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Content Knowledge and Connections

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Lesson Map

1

  • Timeline

Describe what life was like in Cuba in 1912. 

2

  • The Wild Book pp. 1 – 16

    RL.4.3

    RL.4.5

Explain how the narrator feels about word-blindness. 

7

  • The Wild Book pp. 55 – 74

    RL.4.2

Describe Fefa's relationship with her family. 

9

  • The Wild Book pp. 92 – 106

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Explain what daydreams the narrator is referring to.

17

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Core Standards

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L.4.1

L.4.1.g

L.4.2

RL.4.2

RL.4.3

RL.4.5

SL.4.1

SL.4.1.c

SL.4.1.d

SL.4.2

W.4.1

W.4.1.a

W.4.1.b

W.4.1.c

W.4.3

W.4.3.a

W.4.3.b

W.4.3.d

Supporting Standards

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L.4.3

L.4.4

L.4.4.b

L.4.5

L.4.6

RF.4.3

RF.4.4

RI.4.1

RL.4.1

RL.4.10

RL.4.4

RL.4.9

W.4.10

W.4.4

W.4.5

W.4.6

W.4.9.a