Using Writing to Entertain | EL Education Curriculum

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In this unit, students apply what they have learned about point of view and narrative techniques in Unit 2 to plan and draft a first person narrative that builds out a scenario from The Most Beautiful Roof of the World by Kathryn Lasky. Students work in pairs to plan and draft a partner narrative in the first half of the unit. For the mid-unit assessment, students plan and draft a new first person narrative building out a new scenario from the text.

In the second half of the unit, students revise their partner narrative with a focus on pacing: speeding up parts of the narrative that are irrelevant to the plot and slowing down important action. For the end of unit assessment, students apply teacher feedback and the skills they have learned throughout the second half of the unit to revise the narrative they wrote independently for the mid-unit assessment. They also complete a task identifying the function of conjunctions, interjections, and prepositions--a focus of mini lessons throughout the unit. The unit ends with students working with their partner to compile their narrative writing from across the unit to create the final performance task, a Rainforest Adventures ebook.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How does a narrator's or speaker's point of view influence how events are described?
  • A first person narrative helps us to see exactly how one character thinks and feels in response to a situation, while a third person narrative helps us to understand the thoughts and feelings of more than one character.
  • How do authors engage the reader in narratives?
  • Authors engage the reader in narratives by speeding up and slowing down the pacing according to what is happening and by using concrete and sensory language to help the reader imagine he or she is there.

The Four Ts

  • Topic: Students draw on their research about biodiversity in the rainforest to describe the rainforest setting and animals/plants accurately and in detail in narrative writing.
  • Task: Students plan and draft first person narratives to build out a scenario from The Most Beautiful Roof in the World (mid-unit assessment). Students revise their narratives, focusing on narrative technique and pacing (end of unit assessment).
  • Targets: Standards explicitly taught and assessed: W.5.3, W.5.4, W.5.5, W.5.10, L.5.1a, L.5.3a
  • Text: "Bite at Night" written by EL Education for instructional purposes


Each unit in the 3-5 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the literacy block. But the module intentionally incorporates Science content that may align to additional teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

Science (based on NGSS) or NGSS:

Note: Also consider using EL Education Grade 5 Life Science Module, a separate resource that includes approximately 25 hours of science instruction. This life science module explicitly addresses fifth-grade NGSS life science standards and naturally extends the learning from this ELA module.

Next Generation Science Standards:

Life Science Performance Expectation:

  • 5-LS2-1: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
    • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems: The food of almost any kind of animal can be traced back to plants. Organisms are related in food webs in which some animals eat plants for food and other animals eat the animals that eat plants. Some organisms, such as fungi and bacteria, break down dead organisms (both plants or plant parts and animals) and therefore operate as "decomposers." Decomposition eventually restores (recycles) some materials back to the soil. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their particular needs are met. A healthy ecosystem is one in which multiple species of different types are each able to meet their needs in a relatively stable web of life. Newly introduced species can damage the balance of an ecosystem.

Habits of Character/Social-Emotional Learning Focus

Central to EL Education's curriculum is a focus on "habits of character" and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this module, students focus on working to become effective learners, developing the mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life. Throughout Unit 3, students practice collaboration as they work with a partner to write and edit a narrative and compile an ebook. 


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Accountable Independent Reading

The ability to read and comprehend texts is the heart of literacy instruction. Comprehension is taught, reinforced, and assessed across both components of this curriculum: module lessons and the Additional Language and Literacy block. Refer to the 5M2 Module Overview for additional information.

In this unit, students continue to read research texts independently for homework, and engage in frequent research reading shares during the module lesson for accountability.

Supporting English Language Learners

The Meeting Students' Needs column in each lesson contains support for both ELLs and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and some supports can serve a wide range of student needs. However, ELLs have unique needs that cannot always be met with UDL support. According to federal guidelines, ELLs must be given access to the curriculum with appropriate supports, such as those that are specifically identified as "For ELLs" in the Meeting Students' Needs column.

  • Prioritizing lessons for classrooms with many ELLs: To prepare for the Unit 3 assessments, consider prioritizing and expanding instruction in Lessons 1-4 and 6-8, which build the process of identifying, planning and drafting a first person narrative, then revising to speed up or slow down time. In addition, these lessons include Language Dives. If necessary, consider placing less focus and condensing instruction in Lessons 11-13, which provide valuable synthesis and celebration, but don't introduce as many critical reading and writing concepts.
  • Language Dives: ELLs can participate in three optional, connected Language Dives in Lessons 1, 3, and 4. These Language Dives are designed to guide students the meaning and use of subordinating conjunctions in the English clause system, and specifically the conjunction even though. Many lessons also include optional Mini Language Dives for ELLs. To maximize language practice and accommodate time, consider dividing or reviewing each Language Dive over multiple lessons. Beginning in Module 2 and going forward, create a "Language Chunk Wall"--an area in the classroom where students can display and categorize the academic phrases discussed in the Language Dive. At the end of each Language Dive, students are invited to place the Language Dive sentence strip chunks on the Language Chunk Wall into corresponding categories, such as "Nouns and noun phrases" or "Linking language." Consider color-coding each category. Examples: blue for nouns and subjects; purple for pronouns; red for predicates and verbs; yellow for adjectives; and green for adverbs. See each Language Dive for suggested categories. Students can then refer to the wall during subsequent speaking and writing tasks. For more information on Language Dives and supporting ELLs, see the Tools page.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Investigate the routines, practices, rituals, beliefs, norms, and experiences that are important to ELLs and their families. Integrate this background into the classroom as students explore first person narrative writing.
  • Goal 3 Conversation Cues: Continue to encourage productive and equitable conversation with Conversation Cues, which are questions teachers can ask students to help achieve four goals: (Goal 1) encourage all students to talk and be understood; (Goal 2) listen carefully to one another and seek to understand; (Goal 3) deepen thinking; and (Goal 4) think with others to expand the conversation (adapted from Michaels, Sarah and O'Connor, Cathy. Talk Science Primer. Cambridge, MA: TERC, 2012. Based on Chapin, S., O'Connor, C., and Anderson, N. [2009]. Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Grades K-6. Second Edition. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications). Refer to the Tools page for the complete set of cues. Goal 3 Conversation Cues are introduced in Unit 2, Lesson 1. Heightened language processing and development is a primary potential benefit for ELLs.
  • Strategic grouping: As students are invited to pair up to draft, write, and revise a first person narrative throughout this unit, seriously consider matching ELLs to a partner who has greater language proficiency. The conversations that happen as a result of such strategic pairing will greatly serve the language development of both partners.
  • Language processing time: Give ELLs sufficient time to think about what they want to say before they share with other students or write.
  • Text structure: Students will receive explicit instruction in how to craft three parts of a first person narrative: the beginning, the middle, and the end. This structure may be different from the text structure students are familiar with in their home language. Compare and contrast home language text structure whenever possible.
  • Clauses and conjunctions: Begin conversations about the structure of an English clause and how to join clauses with conjunctions. Ask students how the clause structure and conjunctions compare with their home language structure and conjunctions. Once students understand the differences among a word, phrase, and clause, they can make huge gains in communicating clearly and accurately. See deep instruction on clauses and conjunctions in Lessons 3-4 and in Homework Resources.
  • Celebration: Celebrate the courage, enthusiasm, diversity, and bilingual skills that ELLs bring to the classroom.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
The Most Beautiful Roof in the World
by Kathryn Lasky
1 per student
ISBN: 9780152008970

Preparation and Materials

  • To assess W.3.6, students will need access to technology to create an ebook. Connect with technology specialists in advance to secure the resources and expertise needed to support this work effectively.
  • Gather the following materials from Module 1 for use in this unit:
    • Close Readers Do These Things anchor chart
    • Working to Become Effective Learners anchor chart
    • Working to Become Ethical People anchor chart
    • Parts of Speech anchor chart
    • Tracking Progress folders
    • Linking Words and Phrases handout

Technology and Multimedia

  • Google Docs - Create collaborative online word-processing docs and spreadsheets in folders: Consider having students write their literary analysis essays directly into Google Docs. To do this, create a folder for each student and invite them to create pages for each piece of writing. Consider having students write their narratives directly into Google Docs. To do this, create a folder for each student and invite them to create pages for each piece of writing. 
  • Seesaw - Create student learning portfolios to share with other students, families, and the teacher: Consider having students document the process of creating their Rainforest Adventures ebook with a series of photographs and/or videos.
  • Rain Forest - Additional reading and research: Students read and research to learn more about rain forests (independent reading time, pair/small group work, whole class). 
    • 'Rain Forest'. National Geographic. Web. Accessed on 24 May, 2016. 
  • Rainforest Alliance: Kids Corner - Additional reading and research: Students read and research to learn more about the rainforest (independent reading time, pair/small group work, whole class). 
    • 'Kids Corner'. Rainforest Alliance. Web. Accessed on 24 May, 2016. 
  • Rainforest People - Additional reading and research: Students read and research to learn more about the indigenous people of the rainforest (independent reading time, pair/small group work, whole class). 
    • Rainforest People'. Mongabay. Web. Accessed on 24 May, 2016. 
  • Rainforest People - Additional reading and research: Students read and research to learn more about the indigenous people of the rainforest (independent reading time, pair/small group work, whole class). 
    • 'Rainforest People'. WWF Global. Web. Accessed on 24 May, 2016. 
  • The Wings of the Butterfly - Additional rainforest folktale for reading aloud: Consider reading the tale aloud to students. 
    • Shepard, A. 'The Wings of the Butterfly'. Aaron Shepard. Web. Accessed on 24 May, 2016. 

Additional Language and Literacy Block

The Additional Language and Literacy (ALL) Block is 1 hour of instruction per day. It is designed to work in concert with and in addition to the 1-hour Grades 3-5 ELA "module lessons." Taken together, these 2 hours of instruction comprehensively address all the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.

The ALL Block has five components: Additional Work with Complex Text; Reading and Speaking Fluency/GUM (Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics); Writing Practice; Word Study and Vocabulary; and Independent Reading.

The ALL Block has three 2-week units which parallel to the three units of the module.

Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions


If you have a number of English language learners speaking the same native language, invite family members to come into the classroom to talk with them about the rainforest in their native language.


  • Have a biologist visit the classroom to talk about the diversity of life in the rainforest.
  • Have an author visit the class to talk about craft and author's techniques to engage the reader.


  • Visit the local zoo to observe and draw/photograph rainforest animals and birds to be able to describe them more accurately in narrative writing.
  • Visit a local botanical garden to observe and draw/photograph rainforest plants to be able to describe them more accurately in narrative writing.


  • Help the class organize a fundraiser to contribute to a rainforest preservation organization.
  • Work with students to implement some of the ideas they find to help the rainforest within the school: recycling in the classroom or writing a letter/email to encourage teachers to buy recycled paper, for example.

Extension opportunities for students seeking more challenge:

  • Students could complete an independent internet research project about the diversity of life in the rainforest and/or rainforest destruction.
  • Have students read aloud excerpts of The Most Beautiful Roof in the World as a performance for the whole group.
  • Have students record an audiobook component for their ebooks.
  • Have students read aloud or share their books with students in other grades.

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