This is a 126-page Common Core-aligned literature study unit for use with the 2000 Newberry award-winning novel, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. Set at the height of the Great Depression, the novel tells the story of ten year-old Bud Caldwell’s flight from a violent foster home and journey across the state of Michigan in search of a jazz musician he believes is his father. Along the way, he crosses paths with Dust Bowl migrants, hobos and union activists—who, like Bud, find creative ways to survive the tough times.
NOTE: This unit does NOT include an answer key. Though some questions here are designed to assess comprehension, the overall objective is to promote discussion, critical inquiry and the development of argument-building skills. Most prompts here are open-ended so a variety of responses will be "correct," depending on how well-supported they are. If you are looking for a unit with multiple choice or fill-in-the-blanks questions you can quickly match against an answer key, this is not the right unit for you.
UNIT COMPONENTS and FEATURES
• Literature Response Questions for each chapter of the novel. The questions are grouped for differentiated instruction into Comprehending, Analyzing, and Connecting sections. The comprehension questions are designed to assess understanding of key plot points. The questions that involve analysis ask students to think critically and to support their conclusions with textual evidence. The Connecting section questions ask students to draw connections between the book and their own lives. Several of the questions can also be used as prompts for longer writing assignments. The novel raises some tough and complicated questions about whether survival in the face of homelessness, poverty, racism, and threats of violence can sometimes mean that lying is the right thing to do, and the literature response prompts ask students to grapple with and reflect on personal experience with questions like these. There are some questions geared toward new immigrants/English Language learners that ask students to decode idioms with which native English speakers will probably be familiar, and some of the prompts ask students to reflect on experiences in their native countries.
• Several Mentor Text Exercises designed for use with a Writers’ Workshop program. Each exercise asks students to read as writers—to pay close attention to elements of craft—and apply the mentor author’s writing techniques to their own works in progress. Most exercises include links to student writing samples that model approaches to applying the mentor author techniques under consideration. Some exercises are geared toward beginning writers and/or English language learners, others are for more advanced writers. Choose the exercises and craft discussion questions within each exercise appropriate for your own students. You can delete or edit any of the prompts, and those remaining will automatically renumber correctly.
• A Mentor Author Extension Activity for use with Andrea Davis Pinkney’s picture book, Duke Ellington. This is a close look at approaches to writing musical “soundscapes” that includes links to songs recorded during the Depression and prompts to guide students as they craft their own sound portraits.
• Two multiple-day Mentor Text Mini-Units designed to get students started on new writing projects. “It’ll Make Sense When You’re Older” explores themes that surface in Chapter 5, and “Writing Family History” guides students through an exploration of their own family histories.
• Historical and STEAM Extension Activities that include links to podcasts and videos designed to scaffold an exploration of the novel’s historical context.
• Vocabulary quizzes, one for every 2-3 chapters. Rather than ask for definitions, instructions here ask students to use each vocabulary word in their own sentences because I’ve found that this exercise tells me a lot more about how much students understand the words than asking them for definitions does. Since the document is in MS Word, however, you can easily change the directions to create assignments that meet your own objectives. Vocabulary words are geared toward English Language learners and include many terms with which native speakers will likely be familiar. You can delete the ones you don’t need.
• 3 vocabulary practice crossword puzzles with solutions.
• A vocabulary study sheet, where all words are listed with easy to understand definitions and parts of speech (not dictionary definitions that can often be confusing).
• A link to a set of Bud, Not Buddy vocabulary flashcards archived on FlashcardMachine.com. From this URL you can download a PDF copy of the flashcards, or let students use the “study session” feature on the website or the Flashcard Machine app for ipad or android devices. Included with the link are three flashcard games designed to scaffold the development of word consciousness.
• Flexible formatting. This document is in Microsoft Word, so you can easily modify or delete anything here to fit your own class’s needs. If you delete any prompts, those remaining will automatically renumber correctly and if you alter the pagination the Table of Contents links will remain accurate as long as you don't delete the blue headings.
This version is formatted to print out, with space beneath each prompt for students to write responses. Click the link provided for a Google doc version formatted for use with a projector and/or digital learning platform where students will by entering responses on a computer. Space between prompts in that version is eliminated to maximize the amount of text that will fit on the screen. With my class of fourth and fifth graders, I project the Kindle book on screen side by side with the Literature Response prompts and read the book aloud, pausing periodically to discuss the questions and vocabulary words as they come up.