- Demonstrate the ability to read independently for extended periods of time in order to derive pleasure and to gain information.
- Make connections between a text read independently and their prior knowledge, other texts, and the world.
- Summarize, paraphrase, analyze, and evaluate what they read.
- Use skimming and scanning techniques.
- Detect bias and identify propaganda techniques.
- Analyze an author’s use of static, dynamic, round, and flat characters; the structural elements of plot; flashback and foreshadowing; and point of view and tone.
- Determine pronunciation, meanings, alternate word choices, the parts of speech, or the etymologies of words by using a dictionary and a thesaurus.
- Revise writing for clarity, sentence variety, precise vocabulary, and effective phrasing through collaboration, conferencing, and self-evaluation.
- Write and publish in a variety of formats.
- Continue using keyboarding skills to produce texts.
- Listen to record information as a member of a group.
- Use a variety of resources, including technology, to access information.
- Present their research findings in a variety of formats.
- Student copies of Laurence Yep’s Dragonwings
- Pencil and paper
- At least one computer with Internet access per group for research
- At least one computer per group with word processing or publishing software
- Rubric for Group Newspaper Project (PDF)
- Individual Assessment Form for Group Newspaper Project (PDF)
Set Up and Prepare
- Copy the Rubric for Group Newspaper Project for each group.
- Copy the Individual Assessment Form for Group Newspaper Project
for each student.
- Add the final words to your Vocabulary List:
- Schedule use of a computer lab if necessary to grant Internet access
to your students.
- Preview the following website to become familiar with the content
before displaying it to students: First
- If students do not have access to publication software or a printer,
gather cardstock or poster paper thick enough for students to paste
articles and pictures into a homemade newspaper format.
Part I – Ending the Novel
Step 1: Introduce the final list of vocabulary words for Chapters 11 & 12. Allow time to define the remaining words. Divide the students into groups of 3 or 4 to discuss all the words and compare definitions. Walk around and observe the conversations, making yourself available to clarify misconceptions about the meanings as needed.
Step 2: Have students read through the end of the novel.
Step 3: Share the following activity choices with the students, instructing them to choose one to complete:
- Review and evaluate Black Dog's life and the decisions he made. Write an epitaph for Black Dog.
- Write a letter to Mother as Moon Shadow, explaining life in San Francisco after the earthquake and father's newest invention.
Step 4: Provide time for students to share the writing with each other.
Part II – Culminating Project
Note: The suggestion for the project and its rubric is a starting point from which you may design specifics based on your students’ needs.
Step 5: Divide students into groups of 4. Explain that each group will complete one newspaper with the following parts:
- Page One - the front page that will include information about the San Francisco earthquake, including articles about what happened and pictures that show the real damage.
- Page Two - the children's' page that will include articles explaining aerodynamics and the principles of flight, instructions on how to make a paper airplane, information on the Wright Brothers, and information on their west coast counterpart named Feng Ru.
- Page Three - the back page that will include at least 3 letters to the editor from local immigrants in San Francisco and at least 2 political cartoons that would have been appropriate for the 1906 time period.
Step 6: Allow groups several class days with access to computers to research each topic and compile articles for the newspaper.
Step 7: Upon completion, have groups evaluate the newspaper according to the rubric. I always have students do this in order to compare marks when the projects are returned to them.
Step 8: Before assessing the projects, have each student fill out an individual evaluation. This score will become part of each student’s final grade, and you will be impressed with how honest your students can be with this activity.
Supporting All Learners
Students may choose to read with a partner in some cases. Another option would be to have a struggling reader read the text aloud into a tape recorder. Then, at night or in the car going to and from school, the student can review the text to increase chances for comprehension.
You may also wish to assign groups and match lower students with higher leveled students. When I assign this project to my students, I group them by ability level. This also worked well.
After completing any novel study, instruct students to reinvent the book cover to include a story summary on the back and a picture that represents the main theme of the novel on the front cover.
Encourage students to read the local newspaper and discuss issues with parents. Unfortunately, we have conflicts and disasters in our everyday lives. However, through conversations with adults, students learn that they can choose how they deal with these conflicts.
Look closely at the newspaper pages. Each piece is designed to evoke a different level of thinking from summarizing basic facts to applying personal experiences to writing in a different point of view. Your students’ ability to complete the newspaper will tell you volumes about what skills each has mastered or on what each needs more assistance.
- Give vocabulary quizzes on each section of the novel to include
a comprehensive vocabulary test at the end of the unit.
- Assess the writing activity from Part One.
- Grade each student’s contribution to the newspaper project.
- Pop quizzes are sometimes necessary to make sure students are keeping
up with the reading assignments during a novel study.