Unit 4: Adapting to Survive: Short Stories and Poems
Students explore the attributes necessary for survival and the importance of physical and mental strength by reading excerpts from Julie of the Wolves, Endangered, Hatchet, and a variety of poems.
In this unit, students explore the attributes necessary for survival by reading excerpts from Julie of the Wolves, Endangered, Hatchet, and a variety of poems. With each story, students will explore if one needs more physical or mental strength, or a combination of both, in order to overcome an obstacle or problem. Students will also explore how our ability to adapt and make changes impacts our lives and ability to survive. It is our hope that this unit challenges students to think about the way in which they tackle obstacles and the power and influence they have over their own lives.
When analyzing individual stories, students will focus on explaining how scenes fit together and contribute to the overall structure of a story or poem, and summarizing a text and determining theme. After analyzing a story or poem in-depth, students will then practice comparing and contrasting across stories and analyzing the way in which different stories approach similar themes and topics. This unit places a large emphasis on the power of rereading a text in order to build deeper meaning. Over the course of the unit, students will have multiple opportunities to engage with a particular text multiple times in order to analyze and notice author’s craft and additional layers of meaning.
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Book: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (HarperCollins; First Edition edition, 2016) (pp. 5-25)
Book: Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic Paperbacks; Reprint edition, 2014) (pp. 76–83, 90–95, 98–103)
Book: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006) (pp. 113–120, 161–170)
Poem: “If You Can’t Go Over or Under, Go Around” by Joseph Morris (House of Lore, 2011)
Poem: “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
Article: “Help me Make it Through the Night - surviving a wilderness emergency” by Kelly Stang
Article: “Canine Communication” (International Wolf)
Resource: Bonobos Fact Sheet
Rubric: Grade 5 Narrative Writing Rubric
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
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The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 4, view our 5th 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.
Explain what steps can be taken to prepare for a wilderness emergency.
Describe what makes the tundra a unique habitat, why the author includes so much description about the tundra, and how it contributes to the overall structure of the story.
Compare and contrast Miyax’s actions with those of the wolves and analyze how Miyax was able to integrate herself into the pack.
Discussion & Writing
Write a summary of the excerpt from Julie of the Wolves that includes the theme of the excerpt.
Identify and explain the speaker’s perspective on choices in life by analyzing how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic.
Compare and contrast the perspective on choices of the speaker in the poem with Miyax from Julie of the Wolves.
Explain how the events on pp. 80–81 contribute to the overall structure of the story.
Analyze how each interaction between Anastasia and Sophie contributes to the overall structure of the story.
Summarize the excerpt from Endangered by identifying a theme and explaining how the characters in the story respond to the main challenges.
Compare and contrast the excerpts from Julie of the Wolves and Endangered by analyzing the way they both approach the theme and topic of survival.
Describe Brian’s current predicament and how he responds.
Analyze how Brian’s “figuring out food” contributes to the structure of the story.
Analyze how the author builds suspense and how it contributes to the structure of the story.
Summarize the excerpt from Hatchet.
Identify and explain the speaker’s perspective on choices in life.
Compare and contrast the perspectives on choices of the speaker in the poem and Brian.
Compare and contrast the excerpts from Hatchet, Julie of the Wolves or Endangered by analyzing the way they both approach the theme and topic of survival.
Writing – 2 days
Write a multiple-paragraph essay that compares how Brian, Sophie, and/or Miyax approached survival.
Narrative Writing – 4 days
Write a continuation of one of the stories from the unit.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Use underlining, quotation marks, or italics to indicate titles of works.
— Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
— Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
— Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.
— Describe how a narrator's or speaker's point of view influences how events are described.
— Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g., mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics.
— Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
— Summarize the points a speaker makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence.
— Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task and situation.
— Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information
— 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 situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
— Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, description, and pacing, to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
— Use a variety of transitional words, phrases, and clauses to manage the sequence of events.
— Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
— Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.
— 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
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Explain the function of conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections in general and their function in particular sentences.
— Form and use the perfect (e.g., I had walked; I have walked; I will have walked) verb tenses.
— Use verb tense to convey various times, sequences, states, and conditions.
— Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb tense.
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Use a comma to set off the words yes and no (e.g., Yes, thank you), to set off a tag question from the rest of the sentence (e.g., It's true, isn't it?), and to indicate direct address (e.g., Is that you, Steve?).
— Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed.
— Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 5 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., photograph, photosynthesis).
— 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 contrast, addition, and other logical relationships (e.g., however, although, nevertheless, similarly, moreover, in addition).
— Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
— Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
— Quote accurately from 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 figurative language such as metaphors and similes.
— By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 4—5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
— 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, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
— 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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