This is the ENTIRE UNIT of the second Module of the Expeditionary Learning Curriculum. The curriculum is free and the link is below. You will need two texts. The information for purchasing both is below. Just buy one copy (about $25 and make copies!!). My kids just finished this Module and they loved it. We ordered sushi, made origami, and painted kabuki masks. We got super into it!!!
1. Mary Pope Osborne, Magic Tree House #37: Dragon of the Red Dawn (New York, NY: Random House, 2007), ISBN: 978-0-375-83727-2
2. Colleen Sexton, Exploring Countries: Japan (Minneapolis, MN: Bellwether Media, 2012), ISBN: 978-1-60014-674-9.
The curriculum can be found: http://commoncoresuccess.eleducation.org/curriculum
In this module, students will use literacy skills to build expertise—using reading, writing, listening, speaking, and collaborative skills to build and share deep knowledge about a topic. This focus on research intentionally builds on Module 1, in which students explored the superpowers of reading. Specifically, students will seek evidence of culture, which can be thought of as the story of a group of people constructed through the generations; it can be evidenced through ancient and modern-day customs and traditions. The module will begin with a class study of the culture of Japan: Students will read Magic Tree House: Dragon of the Red Dawn, a book set in ancient Japan, paired with Exploring Countries: Japan, an informational text about modern Japan. Unit 2 follows a similar pattern, but students work with increasing independence. They will form book clubs to build expertise on a different country—reading a new Magic Tree House book set in their selected country, paired with a new Exploring Countries informational text to learn about that country’s culture. Students expand their definition of culture to include more than just customs and traditions In Unit 3, students will demonstrate their expertise about how customs and traditions help us learn about culture by writing a research-based letter to Magic Tree House author Mary Pope Osborne that informs Ms. Osborne of customs and traditions that have endured in a culture from ancient to modern time. This task addresses NYSP12 ELA CCLS W.3.2, W.3.4, W.3.5, W.3.7, W.3.8, L.3.1h, L.3.1i, L.3.2f, and L.3.3a.
In this unit, students read both informational texts and a Magic Tree House book as they learn about the concept of culture generally, and the culture of ancient and modern Japan specifically. They will read Magic Tree House: Dragon of the Red Dawn, collecting textual evidence as they begin to explore the question “What is culture?” They explore the concept of culture as the story of a group of people constructed through the generations, which can be evidenced through ancient and modern-day customs and traditions (see “Content Connections,” below). For the mid-unit assessment, students will cite evidence from the text as well as answer text-dependent questions and define vocabulary words from Dragon of the Red Dawn. Students then will collect textual evidence from the accompanying informational text Exploring Countries: Japan. They will begin to learn how evidence in literary texts correlates with evidence in informational texts. They will write about ancient and modern Japan in an on-demand informational paragraph. This whole class study of Japan, in Unit 1, prepares students to do similar work in small groups in Unit 2 about other countries’ ancient and modern-day customs and traditions.