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The last 5th grade CIA unit is the City of Ember written by Jeanne DuPrau.  It is about a futuristic society that was built underground to save the human race from extinction. The people who live in Ember do not know any of this.  All they know is that everything in their environment relies on electricity.  But, the generator that makes the electricity is starting to break down and there are more and more blackouts.  The people are also worried about food, because there seems to be shortages of everything.  Students find out that there are two people, Lina and Doon, who want to try to save Ember.  How can 12 year olds save a city?

From the moment students read the blurb, they are hooked.  For many of them, they have not read anything from the science fiction genre. Some students have difficulty putting the setting of the story in the future.  The time-line of Ember that students write and draw in their notebooks is very helpful for them to see the progression of events. Students also make a T-chart listing the differences in Ember and the current world, which is helpful for them to understand what makes this story science fiction.  The hard thing about this book, is to stop reading.  They want to read, read, read!

By the time students finish the first quadrant, they have a lot to write about in their retell summaries.

This is a retell summary of the first quadrant written by Sonny, who would sneak and continue reading the book when he thought I wasn’t looking.

The first quadrant of the City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau tells about a boy and a girl named Lina and Doon who are trying to fix the generator for their city.

First, Lina and Doon’s city, Ember, is not prospering and there are shortages of everything and the lights go out all the time.

Next, the city of Ember is running out of light bulbs and the generator keeps breaking and no one knows how it works and they don’t know how to fix it.  Lina’s Granny is looking for something “important” and it is the box with the instructions.

Finally, Lina and Doon find out that Ember has a disease in its potatoes, which is a food they rely on. Ember is surrounded in darkness so there is nowhere to go, and in Ember there is no such thing as light you can take with you.

In Conclusion, I predict that Lina and Doon will find out how to make a flashlight and then they will take the citizens of Ember away from Ember.

The City of Ember give students lots to think about.  They wonder and ask if this could happen.  The outside texts provided in the unit help students to understand why the author would write a book about the devastation of the Earth.  Throughout the book, students are wondering if this is a believable book.  After we finish the book, students read an article about a cave that is big enough to build a city like Ember!

Students write a synthesis summary of the book for one of their writing assignments.  This one was written by Ds’ah.

The book City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau tells about an underground city built to protect human life from a world disaster.

First, the builders left enough food and supplies for 200 years to let Ember survive.  And the builders left instructions for a way to exit Ember but the 7th mayor brought the instructions home and got really sick and died before he could return the box.

Next, the builders left enough supplies for 200 year, but now it is year 241 and Ember is running out of food, supplies including light bulbs, plus the generator keeps breaking and the lights go out a lot.  Unless Lina and Doon find a way out, Ember will be in complete darkness.

Finally, Lina and Doon are determined to find a solution.  Lina finds the instructions and she and Doon find the way out of Ember.  After they get out, they send a message back to Ember.

In conclusion, it is true that curiosity leads to wisdom as apathy leads to foolishness.  Because if Lina and Doon were not curious they would not have found the way out.

As you can see, this book helps students see the value of being curious, which is something I hope they take with them to middle school.

Since this is our last book of the year, my 5th grade team likes to end the year with a pizza party, then we all go to the gym and watch the movie and eat popcorn.  After the movie, we have to go back to class and debrief because students don’t like some of the changes that were made for the movie and they really need to talk it out.  It is also amazing to see how far they have come as readers who think and question.  Thank you CIA for helping me continue to be a better teacher of reading!


Written by Lynn Boze --- 5th Grade Teacher