You are here


Using Writing to Entertain

You are here:

The Foundational Reading and Language Standards Resources Package for Grades 3–5

Use this guide to build additional literacy blocks alongside the module lessons.


In this unit, students apply the research they have completed (in Unit 2) about their expert animal and its defense mechanisms in order to write a narrative about their animal. Students will write a choose-your-own-adventure narrative about their animal for their performance task for this module.  Throughout the unit students work on the their narratives by writing the introduction and first choice ending.  Then as an on demand end of unit assessment, they write the second choice ending for their narratives.   Finally, they combine these choices to complete their performance task and publish their choose-your-own-adventure narratives.  Students begin this unit by reading a mentor literary text, Can You Survive in the Wilderness as a class. 

This text introduces them to the format of a choose-your-own-adventure. Students hone their writing skills through practicing with a class model based on the millipede.  For the mid-unit assessment, students will plan for and draft the introduction to their own narratives. Then through mini-lessons and peer critique continue to revise their writing.  Finally, in the end of unit assessment, students write the second choice ending of their narrative, on demand, and then combine this with their first choice ending to create their final performance task in a choose-your-own-adventure format.


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.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How do animals’ bodies and behaviors help them survive?
  • How can a writer use knowledge from their research to inform and entertain?
  • To protect themselves from predators, animals use different defense mechanisms.
  • In order to entertain and inform, writers must become researchers.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read informational texts about animal defense mechanisms. However, the module intentionally incorporates Science Practices and Themes to support potential interdisciplinary connections to this compelling content. These intentional connections are described below.

Big ideas and guiding questions are informed by the New York State Common Core K–8 Science Framework:

  • Next-Generation Science Standards 4L-S1-1
  • From Molecules to Organisms: Structure and Processes

NYS Science Standard 4: Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.

  • Key Idea 2: Organisms inherit genetic information in a variety of ways that result in continuity of structure and function between parents and offspring.
  • Key Idea 5: Organisms maintain a dynamic equilibrium that sustains life.
  • Key Idea 6: Plants and animals depend on each other and their physical environment.


Texts to buy

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

Cover Text Quantity ISBNs
Can You Survive in the Wilderness? An Interactive Survival Adventure
by Matt Doeden
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978-1429679961, 1429679964


ELA G4:M2B:U3:L7

ELA G4:M2B:U3:L13

Optional Activities

Have a professional writer visit the class to discuss the writing process.  Ask them to share how they research the topics they are going to write about.

Visit the local zoo to observe the animals from the Expert Groups for additional research to inform writing.

Share narratives with the local zoo—perhaps they can display them or use them for classes.

Optional: Extensions

  • Have students create a third choice ending for their narratives.
  • Have students read aloud or perform their narratives for the class.

Our newest K-5 curricula is available on a new site,
This website will be decommissioned in June 2018. Sign up for updates.