Belonging to a Movement: One Crazy Summer

Reading the novel One Crazy Summer, set in 1968 Oakland, CA at the height of the Black Panther movement, students explore the meaning of community, identity, and what it means to be part of a revolution.



Unit 5

5th Grade

Unit Summary

Please Note: In July 2024, we will be moving this unit onto the 5th Grade ELA alternate units list. Friendship Across Boundaries: Return to Sender will be moved into the recommended sequence as Unit 5.

In this unit, students explore the meaning of family, community, and identity by reading the core text One Crazy Summer. Through the eyes of eleven-year-old Delphine, readers experience life in Oakland, California, in 1968, the height of the Black Panther movement. Delphine and her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, spend a summer in Oakland visiting their estranged mother who sends them to spend their days at a camp run by the Black Panthers. Throughout the summer, the girls learn about what it means to be part of a revolution, what the Black Panther Party was fighting for, and why the Black Panther Party was important during this time period. Through it all, they build confidence in themselves and their relationships with others as they learn to challenge and respond to social issues in the community. It is our hope that this unit, in conjunction with others in the series, will help students understand the way experiences shape our identities and beliefs, and how children can help bring about change in the community. 

Students continue to dive deep into characters, noticing how comparing and contrasting the way different characters respond to the same event helps a reader build a deeper understanding of events. Students also continue to explore how authors use predictable pathways and structures to reveal a theme of a text, building on the work they’ve done in previous units. 

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 essays, using their knowledge of topic sentences, supporting details, and elaboration. Throughout the entire unit, students use narrative writing to deepen their understanding of character and point of view, rewriting scenes from another character's point of view using precise descriptions, words, and phrases to develop experiences. 

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Book: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (HarperCollins Publishers, 2011)   —  750L


These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Before you teach this unit, unpack the texts, themes, and core standards through our guided intellectual preparation process. Each Unit Launch includes a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning to ensure you're prepared to support every student.

Essential Questions

  • Who were the Black Panthers? What did they believe in? 
  • How can relationships cause people to change and grow? 
  • How can names and labels influence our identities? 

Reading Focus Areas

  • Comparing and contrasting the way different characters respond to the same event helps a reader build a deeper understanding of events.

  • Authors use predictable pathways and structures to reveal a theme of a text.

Writing Focus Areas

Opinion Writing

  • Create topic/introductory sentences that clearly state an opinion.

  • Provide logically ordered reasons and details to support an opinion.

  • Link opinions and reasons using words, phrases and clauses.

  • Organize ideas into paragraphs.

  • Provide a concluding statement or section.

Narrative Writing

  • Use relevant text details or background knowledge from the text to develop characters, ideas, or situations.

  • Use description and dialogue to develop experiences, events and characters.

  • Use precise words and phrases to describe character actions and feelings.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Question and clarify to build understanding. Seek to clarify a particular point a peer makes by asking follow-up questions.

  • Build on and challenge a partner's ideas.

  • Synthesize to build deeper meaning. Synthesize everything from the discussion into a coherent statement at the end of the discussion.



appalled begrudgingly civics defiant envious fugitive gawk humiliation ignorance inseparable indignant plea spectacle


-ance -able -tion in-

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 5, view our 5th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Supporting All Students

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.

Content Knowledge and Connections

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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Unit 4

Young Heroes: Children of the Civil Rights Movement

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