Students begin Unit 1 by reading the novel A Long Walk to Water. The focus of the first half of the unit of reading is catching questions about the conflict described and analyzing how the setting shapes the characters and plot and how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters in the text. In the second half of the unit, students begin to analyze how themes have developed throughout the story so far. Students also create discussion norms in order to have productive discussions about the text at the end of the unit.
A Long Walk to Water contains references to sensitive topics such as war (including the violent death of family members and children), displacement, family separation, hunger, thirst (including death from lack of water), refugee camps, violent deaths from wild animals, and serious illness of family members. These issues must be carefully and sensitively discussed to give students context as they read the story. Speak with students and families in advance, especially those who may have sensitivity to topics discussed.
In this unit, students begin to read literary nonfiction texts at their level as they choose independent research reading texts. There are Independent Reading Sample Plans in online resources with ideas on how to launch independent reading. Students should complete 20 minutes of independent research reading for homework when they are not reading a chapter from the anchor text. Students should also continue independent research reading over weekends.
Please note: For the 6-8 Language Arts Curriculum, there are Teaching Notes for each unit that contain helpful information for supporting English language learners. These overview notes complement the more specific English language learner supports and differentiated materials within each lesson. (See the Support All Students section of the Teaching Notes in Lesson 1 for further detail.) You will find the unit's Teaching Notes in the Unit download below.