Unit 2a

October Sky by Homer Hickam

Grade 8


Unit Length and Description:


Nine Weeks


During this nonfiction unit, students will take the information they read and connect, make inferences, and interpret text.  Through numerous argumentative and expository writing assignments, they will elaborate and use details as they write in response to texts.   Students will hone their research skills as they learn about the 1950's era, the Space Race, and the coal mining industry.  Hope, passion, confidence, self-realization, and the power of following a dream are themes found in the unit.  In Homer Hickam’s October Sky, students learn of the importance of a well-rounded academic education as the “Rocket Boys” pursue their dreams.  This theme of the pursuit of dreams will act as a conduit connecting a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts. 


Craft and structure will be the focus of reading during this unit.  Writing will be predominately informative/explanatory and argumentative.




Reading Literature

RL.8.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts..


RL.8.5: Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.


RL.8.6: Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) creates such effects as suspense or humor.


Reading Informational Texts

RI.8.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choice on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.


RI.8.5: Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text, including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept.


RI.8.6: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.



W.8.1: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

a)   Include claim(s), acknowledge and distinguish claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.

b)   Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating understanding of the topic or text.

c)   Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

d)   Establish and maintain a formal style.

e)   Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.


W.8.6: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.


W.8.7: Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.


Speaking and Listening

SL.8.2: Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.


SL.8.3: Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.



L.8.3: Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

a)   Use verbs in the active and passive voice and in the conditional and subjunctive mood to achieve particular effects (e.g., emphasizing the actor or the action; expressing uncertainty or describing a state contrary to fact).

Enduring Understandings:


·         We use language to celebrate and give voice to the events and experiences that move us from childhood to adulthood.

·         Authors write with different purposes.

·         Nonfiction presents factual information about real people, places, and events, although the author may shape the information according to purpose and viewpoint.

·         Theme/underlying meanings represent a universal view or comment on society or life at any given time.


Essential Questions:


·         What are the defining characteristics of childhood, adolescence and adulthood?

·         How does culture influence our identity?

·         How does reading influence us?

·         Why do we need to evaluate what we read?

·         How do the authors of nonfiction shape information according to purpose and viewpoint?

·         What are common themes in literature of different periods?

·         How does the time period influence the life of an author and the type of genre they produce?