My Father's Dragon illustration

My Father’s Dragon

This unit focuses on the story My Father’s Dragon, written by Ruth Gannett. Students are exposed to rich literature. The unit incorporates technology and language arts. Students read the story and keep a story journal and record their responses daily. They will need to make predictions before they read and then check to see if their predictions were correct. After the story has been finished, students write a new ending using the same main characters.

Title III Technology Literacy Challenge Grant

Learning Unit

LU Title: My Father’s DragonAuthor(s): Nancy Osborn
Grade Level: 2-4School Address: Fairground Rd. West Winfield, NY  13491
Topic/Subject Area: ELA

Overview of Unit

This unit focuses on the story My Father’s Dragon, written by Ruth Gannett.

This story is about a young boy named Elmer. He finds an old alley cat and they become friends. Elmer tells the cat that he would love to fly. The cat tells Elmer of a way that he could fly. The cat tells Elmer about an island.

On this island is a baby dragon. However, there are many other wild animals that live there and they will not let the baby dragon leave the island. The old alley cat and Elmer plan to rescue the baby dragon.

The students will be exposed to rich literature during this unit. This unit will incorporate technology and language arts. The teacher will have the students read the story My Father’s Dragon. During the unit, the students will focus on literary issues, such as themes, story elements and point of view.

The students will keep a story journal and record their responses daily. They will need to make predictions before they read and then check to see if their predictions were correct. They will need to support their predictions by using facts from the story.

After the story has been finished, the students will use the computer to write a new ending to this story using the same main characters. The students will then share their story with the class.

Content of Knowledge

Understands the differences between reality/fantasy  Students will be able to:Use process writing
Knows story elements  Present oral reports
Able to identify relevant informationUse strategies to construct meaning
Knows how to read independently           Completes a story web
Understands the concept of a story webApplies word processing skills
Understands point of viewUse the Reading ProcessOrganize information using a graphic organizer

Essential Questions

Why is it important to be able to support our statements with facts?

Connections to NYS Learning Standards


ELA #1: Students will read, write, listen and speak for information and understanding.

  • Present information clearly in a variety of oral and written forms such as summaries, paraphrases, brief reports, stories, posters and charts.
  • Use the process of pre-writing, drafting, revising and proofreading (the “writing process”) to produce well constructed informational text.
  • Observe basic writing conventions, such as correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization, as well as sentence and paragraph structure appropriate to written forms.

ELA #3: Students will read, write, listen and speak for critical analysis and evaluation.

  • Express opinions (in such forms as oral and written reviews, letters to the editors, essays, or persuasive speeches) about events, books, issues and experiences, supporting their opinions with some evidence.
  • Monitor and adjust their own oral and written presentations to meet criteria for competent performance (e.g., in writing the criteria might include development of position, organization, appropriate vocabulary, mechanics, and neatness.  In speaking, the criteria might include good content, effective delivery, diction, posture, poise, and eye contact).

Initiating Activity

The students will watch a homemade clip of the video “My Father’s Dragon”. After the video clip the students using the collaboration method of “Think, Pair and Share”(Students will be given a few minutes to think by themselves and then pair with a partner to discuss the information between each other, then the class will come back together as a whole group and share information) will think about how the story will end, then share their thoughts with a peer. After 5 minutes, then the class will come back as a whole group.  They will share their predictions with the entire class.

Learning Experiences

Daily: 30 minutes

Students will make predictions about the story using information from the text.  Using a story journal, students will document their predictions and support their predictions using information from the text. The students will then share this information with their peers. This will take place daily.

(Reciprocal teaching) –This strategy engages students in the use of prior knowledge by having them teach new material to one another.  It is designed for situations in which students are gathering information through reading.

Daily: 10 minutes

The teacher will hand out graphic organizers to assist the students with sequencing the information provided in each chapter.  * See reference list under Modifications/Adaptations for graphic organizers.

Students will organize a chapter through sequencing the events.  The students will use a variety of graphic organizers provided by the teacher to complete this task.  * See reference list under Modifications/Adaptations for graphic organizers and story webs.

Daily: 10 minutes.

The teacher will provide students with a story web.  The students will then need to identify story elements such as setting, characters, plot, problem and solution.

Students will identify story elements through the use of story webs.

* See reference list under Modifications/Adaptations for graphic organizers.

Daily: 5 minutes

The teacher will ask the students to identify characters and situations that represent real and fantasy throughout the story.

Students will determine what elements of the story are real and fantasy through the use of concept attainment strategy. (This strategy asks the students to figure out a concept rather than listening to a given explanation of it.)

After the last chapter has been completed:

Daily: 45 minutes for one week

The students will now move to the next phase of this unit.  They will write their own ending to this story.

Students will use process writing to write an ending to a story.  They will use descriptive language, support

their ideas with details, use logical order, and use a sense of voice in their writing. They will complete this task by using strategies including think aloud, and following a set of steps.

Students will use word processing skills to write their final story.  They will use the computer to aid them in conventions of spelling and proper use of grammar.

Students will create a different ending to the story using problem solving.  This ending must include the main character, Elmer and the dragon. Students must be able to justify their new ending with supportive information from the text.

Daily: 30 -45 minutes

Daily: 5 minutes per presentation -Allow 3 or 4 days depending on class size

Students will present their ending of the story to their class. 

Culminating Performance

The students will present an oral presentation to the class on how they would have the story end.  However, they must keep the main character, Elmer and the dragon in their story.  Students will be evaluated using a rubric shared with them prior to their performance.


Oral Presentation

InformationStory is not clear or logicalStory is almost always clear and logicalStory is clear and logical
Body LanguageNo eye contact with audience and posture is lacking Some eye contact with audience and posture is slouching/poorMaintains eye contact with audience and is body language is confident
VoiceVoice not loud and clearVoice is clear and loud most of the timeVoice is clear and has expression

Writing Rubric

MeaningLacking focus and not clear Meaning is lostMeaning is clear most of the timeMeaning is clearly evident, may content sense of voice
OrganizationOrganization is not clear or lacking, outline not followedOrganization is present most of the time, follows order with few flawsOrganization presented in logical order
MechanicsErrors make reading the story difficultErrors may exist but do not interfere with storyFew or no errors exist

Journal Writing Rubric

MechanicsErrors make reading difficultErrors exist but don’t interfere with meaningFew or no errors exist
SummarySummary lacks focus.  Includes many details not supported by main ideaSummary includes main ideas with details and text that is not importantSummary is concise with main ideas present
OrganizationOrganization not clear or lacking- Sentence starter not usedInformation presented but lacks logical orderOrganization presented in logical order

Pre-Requisite Skills

Language Arts Skills:

  • Basic writing skills
  • Basic conventions of spelling
  • Basic reading level of 2nd grade and associated reading skills
  • Basic mechanics of writing
  • Basic use of language i.e.)expressions


  • Basic computer skills,
  • Basic word processing skills


If possible, you should schedule a block of time that allows for support staff to be in the classroom.  Support staff with your input, can make adjustments and modifications to the requirements based upon the needs of the students.  However, all students will be able to be successful with this unit.  Students will be given an outline of expectations.  Starter sentences and paragraphs will be provided to all students to ensure their success.  One goal is that all students participate and show growth/progress with this unit.  This unit may be adapted to be used during a guided reading time.  This outline may be used to focus on many other stories.  Excellent resources for graphic organizers and story webs are: Activities for Any Literature Unit, by Patsy Carey, Cynthia Holzschuler, and Susan Kilpatrick (Publisher, Teacher Created Material), Graphic Organizers: Helping Children Think Visually, by Kris Flynn (Publisher, Creative Teaching Press.), Great Teaching with Graphic Organizers, by Patti Drapeau, ( Publisher,  Scholastic) and Graphic Organizers: Visual Strategies for Active Learning, by Karen Bromley and Marcia Modlo, Linda Irwin-DeVitis, (Publisher, Scholastic).

This story lends itself to many other subject areas such as science and social studies.  You may want to incorporate lessons involving Africa or animals.  This story is rich with map skills that you can integrate into your classroom.  Also, if you want you may want to read the complete series written by Ruth Gannett as follow up lessons.

Unit Schedule/Time Plan

There are ten chapters in the story My Father’s Dragon, if you read a chapter a day it will take two weeks to complete the story. The students are required to complete several tasks daily that are related to this story. The students will need to complete a story journal and a story web. A learning block of at least 45 minutes should be set aside every day to work on a variety of activities ranging from accessing information to processing that information into a written and oral report.  

Each day the students will be required to write a summary of events of the story My Father’s Dragon and predict what will happen in the next chapter and how the story will end. The students will be exposed to story elements, literary styles and elements of literature.

Technology Integration

Students will be shown word processing skills. The students will generate a written report using information gathered from the story and their own creativity. They may incorporate visual aids when using the computers.  That may be achieved through the use of scanners if the hardware is available to them. There are several excellent word processing programs available at this level such as Kid Piks and Story Book Weaver.

Further reading: How to Write a Lesson Plan: 7 Steps