Unit 1: Finding Fortune: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
By reading and discussing Grace Lin's novel Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, students explore what it means to have good fortune and how families shape a person’s identity, values, and beliefs.
In this unit, students dig deeply into how families shape a person’s identity, values, and beliefs and how relationships with others can change a person’s identity. Students also explore what it means to have good fortune and how a person’s view on fortune varies depending on his/her values and beliefs. It is our hope that this unit, in connection with other units from the entire year-long sequence, will help build a deeper understanding of how we become who we are and the positive and negative factors that influence us along the way.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was chosen as an engaging text to help build excitement at the beginning of the year, while simultaneously allowing for deep discussions about character, setting, vocabulary, and the larger theme of identity. Over the course of the novel, the author, Grace Lin, includes lots of detail and description to reveal information about characters and how they change based on experiences and relationships. Students will be challenged to notice the details that Grace Lin includes and analyze how the details build to support a deeper, more nuanced understanding of characters. Grace Lin also includes lots of powerful vocabulary and figurative language as a way of helping readers visualize exactly what is happening in the story. Students will be challenged to figure out the meaning of unknown words and figurative language and analyze why the author made particular word choices.
In this unit students will also begin to use summarization as a strategy to track the plot of a longer text. In this unit students continue to work on sharing their ideas through discourse, focusing on how to provide evidence and examples to justify a particular idea or point. Being able to clearly articulate and support their own ideas sets students up for success in later units when they begin to build on to and critique the ideas of their classmates.
Students continue to build their writing fluency by writing daily in response to the text, learn to brainstorm, and write literary analysis/opinion paragraphs, focusing on how to write topic sentences that state an opinion and then how to determine evidence and reasons that support the opinion. Work done in this unit serves as the foundation for literary analysis and paragraph writing in later units. The unit culminates by having students write a narrative, using the mentor text and strategies from previous units as a guide.
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: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011)
Rubric: Grade 4 Narrative Writing Rubric
Rubric: Grade 4 Literary Analysis and Opinion Writing Rubric
Template: Single Paragraph Outline
These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.
Download Cold Read Assessment
Download Cold Read Assessment Answer Key
Download Content Assessment
Download Content 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
To describe a character in depth, readers must notice a character’s thoughts, actions, relationships, perspectives, and conflicts.
Characters can change over the course of a story based on their relationships with others, key conflicts, or lessons learned.
Summarizing is used to recap or recall key information in a story.
Use single-paragraph outlines to brainstorm cohesive paragraphs.
Write strong topic sentences that clearly state an opinion.
Provide reasons and evidence to support a particular opinion.
Elaborate on the reasons to show understanding of the text and topic.
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 dialogue and description to show a character’s response to events.
Use different strategies to start a story.
Use figurative language and precise words to elaborate on events.
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 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.
Describe Fruitless Mountain and Minli’s family.
Describe why Minli and her family act in certain ways.
Describe why Minli acts in certain ways.
Writing – 2 days
Write a paragraph that describes Minli.
Describe how Ma and Ba are feeling and why.
Describe how Dragon was born and why the author includes this story.
Analyze the Goldfish Man’s perspective on fortune and if it is similar to Ma and Ba’s.
Analyze the significance of "The Story of the Paper of Happiness."
Explain what the quote "I'll find a way" shows about Minli.
Describe how Minli is beginning to change.
Analyze how Minli’s parents and Minli are starting to transform through their relationships with others.
Describe the king.
Write a paragraph that describes Minli.
Summarize how Dragon ended up with the borrowed line.
Explain why Minli feels ashamed and how she is changing.
Summarize how the girl outsmarted the tiger.
Explain what Minli might learn from the twins and grandfather.
Describe the gift the people of Moon Rain give Minli and why it is an example of true generosity.
Describe what idea Minli puts into action to get the message to the Old Man of the Moon and where the idea came from.
Explain what lesson the Old Man of the Moon is trying to teach Wu Kang and how it connects to Minli’s quest for fortune.
Explain how Ma changes.
Explain how Minli came to realize that she already had the best fortune.
Analyze how Minli knew that all of her questions had been answered.
Debate two essential questions using evidence and arguments from the entire unit and personal experience.
Opinion Writing – 4 days
Write a persuasive letter from the perspective of one of the characters, asking the reader to agree with your point of view.
Narrative Writing – 4 days
Write a narrative story that recounts a moment on Minli’s journey where things go wrong.
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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.
— Use relative pronouns (who, whose, whom, which, that) and relative adverbs (where, when, why).
— Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.
— Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., to, too, two; there, their).
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text.
— Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.
— Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
— 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).
— 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.
— 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).
— 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 concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
— 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 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.
— Use correct capitalization.
— 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.
— Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points.
— 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.
— Apply grade 4 Reading standards to literature (e.g., "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].").
— 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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