This is the first of seventeen stand-alone ELA literacy units built around the highly acclaimed ‘Paka Mdogo – Little Cat’ (the first in a series of three animal adventure stories). Each unit is based on a single chapter from the book, and includes the text itself…so over the course of a semester students will be able to enjoy the whole story as a piece of fiction ‘with excellent literary credentials’ (Library Thing review) – appropriate to Grades 6 to 8 but offering engagement, suspense, humor and challenge to readers of all ages. The series has been described as ‘Books for Thinking Children’ but it also has a strong appeal to thinking adults since it addresses, in a wholly refreshing way, a large number of issues important to us all.
Each unit includes a summary of ‘the story so far’ sufficient to allow a full understanding of events within the chapter, without prior reading. Teachers can therefore, if they wish, use the units selectively, making use of the ongoing summaries to bridge any narrative gaps and keep the class eager to know what happens next.
The units are aligned to the demands of the Common Core State Standards, and teachers making use of them can be assured that their students will be exposed to a wide range of reading, writing, speaking and listening tasks – and thinking activities – designed to promote CCSS literacy objectives with minimal tribulation and maximum delight. Although ‘Paka Mdogo’ is fiction, the units help students develop many of the skills specified in the CCSS standards for informational text, since both the narrative and the study tasks are often fact-oriented, detailed and instructional.
‘Thinking activities’? Imaginative prompts that challenge students to read into, and often beyond, the written text.
Study tasks include the full range of question types (single-answer, multiple choice, closed, open, evaluative) and a variety of writing and speaking activities (personal, narrative, expository, analytical, persuasive, interactive).
Questions on the illustrations are included to help enhance students’ visual, as well as textual, literacy.
• The units are in printable pdf format (Letter size), and can be used either on-screen or in photocopy from the master file.
• Each page of the unit carries one page of text from the chapter, a study task based on it, and working spaces. Additional, more broadly-based study tasks span the whole chapter.
• Students given print copies can use either the working spaces or a separate workbook. Those working on-screen will be able to add their responses by means of a text insertion tool or comments/sticky notes function, depending on the program used to open the pdf file – or, again, in a separate workbook.
• Two editions of the unit – Teaching and Student – are included in the TPT folder, together with a copy of the Teacher Notes, a map of the fictional Baragandiri National Park and a one-page summary of the whole story. The Teaching Edition has suggested responses which the teacher can share with students as appropriate; the Student Edition carries the questions and tasks but not the suggested responses. The two versions are available separately within the TPT folder so that teachers can allow student access, if they wish, only to the Student Edition (although they may decide to provide students with the Teaching Edition also, for the purposes of self-assessment). This flexibility makes the units well suited to classwork, homework and home study.