Exploring Roald Dahl by Y2IpDE

VIEWS: 133 PAGES: 13


    An Author Study
    Meaghan Rogers
                             Table of Contents

Description of Setting and Reading Level         Page 1

Goals and Objectives                             Page 1

Content Overview                                 Page 2

Book Summaries                                   Page 3

Author Biography                                 Page 5

Refined Cognitive Map


Favorite Lines



Lesson Plans
Meaghan Rogers
Exploring Roald Dahl
Disciplines: English Language Arts, Math, Science
Grade Level: Third Grade
Duration: One Month

School and Students:
       This author study is set for my first placement, Ms. Sears’ third grade classroom

in PS 37. PS 37 Multiple Intelligence School is located in the Bronx, New York in the

Kingsbridge/Riverdale area. This is classified as a low-income school and students do not

often have access to supplies. There are 29 students in the class and it is rather crowded.

The students are extremely lively and are on quite a variation of reading levels so this

makes the author study very interesting for the entire class, while giving each reading

level a chance to participate. The reading level of this class is varied. There are students

as low as a DRA level H and as high as level V. Using Roald Dahl books allows a

teacher to differentiate for the different levels because of the variety that he provides.

         By the end of this author study, students will be able to recognize Roald Dahl’s

work. They will be able to recognize his author’s craft while also learning other subjects

through his books and whilst learning about his background. By doing an author study

on Roald Dahl, we hope to encourage the students to foster a love of reading.

Objectives: After this author study, students will be able to:

         -Recognize Roald Dahl’s style of writing

         -Recognize differences in characters from Dahl’s books

         -Apply Dahl’s content to other subject areas (fractions, plants and geography)
Content Overview:

       In the third grade, author studies begin to be used as a tool for differentiation.

Students can explore an author’s craft by reading in literature circles, using the content of

a book to explore other subjects, and reading aloud as a class to do class lessons. For Ms.

Sears’ class, we will be doing all of these things. With Roald Dahl, it is simple. His

books allow students to explore different worlds on their own varying reading levels.

Throughout this author study, the entire class will read The Witches and James and the

Giant Peach. These two books will ground the author study in language arts lessons. In

literature circles, small groups will read Matilda, The Twits, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The

BFG. These literature circles will be our “experts” for each class. We will also be

incorporating Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes into a lesson on fractions.

       Students will begin their author study on Roald Dahl with a webquest. This will

actually be a very limited webquest because these students need a lot of structure in their

directions. As a class, the topic of Roald Dahl will be introduced. If students have read

any of this books, we will write them on the board. Then, as a class, we will generate

questions about Roald Dahl. Once the questions are all in order, there will be class

recorders. Students that are not researching will be in charge of keeping all of the

information in order. There will also be class presenters, who will be in charge of

presenting the information about Roald Dahl’s biography to the class. Roald Dahl’s

website is a great source for kids and teachers. This will be where students will find their


       After moving on from Roald Dahl’s biography, we will begin to read The Witches

and James and the Giant Peach. We are going to read both of them so we can compare
and contrast characters in the books. These little boys are quite different from each other.

After a few days of reading these books as a class and taking notes, we will begin

introducing literature circles to the class. Each group is responsible for explaining their

book to the class at the end of the author study. This helps the class get to know a lot of

books by Roald Dahl.

       The objective of the author study is to help student develop an understanding of

characters, writing style and how authors can use similar writing styles but create very

different characters. As the students progress through the activities in the author study,

they will be keeping notes on the two characters that we read about as a class. These

notes will serve to help students for their final assessment, a character analysis essay.

This author study will help students develop the ability to read closely and create

comparisons about characters.

Book Summaries:

The Witches: The story of real, true witches. The orphaned, little boy listens to his

grandmother tell stories of real witches, ones that are in every country, just in disguise.

When he and his grandmother go away on a short trip to the seaside, who do they meet?

Witches! The little boy is transformed into a mouse, along with another little boy, Bruno

Jenkins. Together, the little boy and his grandmamma, must work to stop the witches

from turning all children into mice!

James and the Giant Peach: James is an orphan, who goes to live at his aunt’s house. He

accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach treet and strange things start to
happen. The peach at the top of the tree grows huge, bigger than a house. His aunt

decides she can make money off of this spectacle, locking James away. When she sends

him out to clean up after the crowds, James discovers a secret entranceway into the fruit,

and when he crawls inside he meets a bunch of oversized friends: Grasshopper,

Centipede, Ladybug and a few others. James has always felt like an outsider living in his

aunt’s house but now he finally has found a place where he belongs. The peach rolls off

it’s stem and begins on an adventure. In the end, James lives out his life in the giant,

hollowed out peach, becoming a successful author, detailing his life in “the book you

have just read!”

Matilda: Matilda is a brilliant little girl with moronic parents. They do not want to send

her to school, they cheat, lie and steal and are completely incompatible! She uses her

intellect to teach herself to read, worm her way into attending school, getting rid of the

horrible Ms. Trunchbull and even arranging an adoption by her favorite teacher, Miss

Honey! Matilda uses her special powers to help her through it all.

Fantastic Mr. Fox: Mr. Fox has been stealing from all the farmers in the neighborhood.

He is one slick fox! Except now, he’s been found out. The three meanest farmers around

work together to catch him. Mr. Fox is going to have to think of some fantastic plan to

get him out of this trouble. He leaves the farmers wondering for days.
The BFG: The BFG snatched little Sophie right out of her orphanage. It was lucky

though for Sophie that this giant snatched her, he’s far too nice and jolly to do anything

mean to her. All of the other giants eat little “human beans.” It could have been any of

the other giants, like the Bloodbottler, the Fleshlumpeater, the Bonecruncher and so on.

She could have been anyone’s breakfast! When she finds out that the other giants are

“flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers,” Sophie decides

she must do something. They devise a plan to convince the Queen of England to help

them. She and the BFG become great friends, she even teaches him how to read, write

and speak English.

The Twits: The Twits are a mean, ugly and nasty couple that loves to play tricks on each

other, animals and children. They hate everything. They are always playing mean jokes

on their pet monkeys, the Muggle-womps. One day, they get another pet, the Roly-Poly

Bird, that helps the Muggle-womps devise a plan to get revenge on the Twits. While the

Twits are out, the animals glue all of their furniture to the ceiling, and the birds drop glue

on the twits’ heads. When the Twits return, they think they are the ones upside down, so

they stand on their heads to make everything right side up. This glues them to the floor

and the animals are all set free. It is a perfect revenge for the trick-playing twits.

Author Biography:

        Roald Dahl is one of the most legendary children’s authors. His use of vibrant

language and magical elements combine to not only engage a reader, but excite them. He

is often quoted as saying, “If you want to remember what it is like to live in a child’s
world, you’ve got to get down on your hands and knees and live like that for a week.”

He has the ability to capture a child’s biggest fears, wants and needs and translate them

onto paper.

       Roald Dahl was born in Wales, England on September 13th 1916. His father died

when he was very young, so his mother primarily raised him. She is the one who taught

him how to “tell tales.” His mother exerted such a large influence over him that many of

the traits that are found in the protagonist female characters in his books are drawn from

her. Also, many of his interests later in life show her influence.

       When it came time for school, Roald Dahl first attended Llandraff Cathedral

School near his home. Then he moved on to St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Weston

Super-Mare, where he wrote weekly letters to his mother. At both schools, he was not an

excellent student. He was terribly homesick and unfocused. After those two schools, he

attended Repton School in Derbyshire. At this school, he excelled at sports but did

miserably in school. His school days are detailed in his autobiography BOY. By age

twenty-three, Roald signed up for the war with the Royal Air Force as a pilot officer. His

experiences in the airforce are in another of his books, Going Solo. Many of his books

contain autobiographical facts about him, in The Witches, the young boy spends summers

with his mother’s family in Norway. Roald Dahl did the same.

       Roald Dahl did not start by writing children’s books. His first writings were non-

fiction, just outlining his experiences in the war. At the time, CS Forester would take war

accounts from soldiers and write them up for the Saturday Evening Post. When Dahl

submitted his account, CS Forester wrote back that he hadn’t changed a word. Dahl was

published. His next writing influence was none other than Ernest Hemingway. He clearly
follow Hemingway’s methods of never using a colon or a semi-colon, once it starts, just

let it flow. For the first fifteen years of his writing career, Dahl concentrated mainly on

writing short stories for adults. The Sunday Tribune called his stories, “ bizarre,

inventive, clever, imaginative, spine-chilling…” He is a master of the element of surprise.

        It was not until he had children of his own that his own foray into children’s

books began modestly. Dahl often says that if he did not have children, he probably

would not have written children’s books at all. His writings originated in his bedtime

stories for his daughters. He refused to write unless he had a great idea for a plot,

sometimes taking up to one month to perfect a page. His cautions to teachers are that

good writing takes time, he “never wrote anything good in an hour.” He also encouraged

multiple drafts on a work; nothing is perfect the first time, was his sentiment. Dahl

wrote in a hut in his home in England, by pencil since he never bothered to learn how to


        Roald Dahl was diagnosed in 1990 with a rare blood disease. He wrote a letter to

his young fans, trying to explain his illness, so devout was he. November 23rd 1990, Dahl

passed away. One former wife, one widow, and four children survive him. His magic

lives on in his writings. His books light up the lives of children and warm the hearts of

parents who watch their child discover a love for reading.


   1. I Hereby Leave You…
      This activity is for the book, The Witches. Since the class will be reading this
      book as a whole, this is a fun activity for the class to do together. The little boy is
      left in his Grandmamma’s care due to the wishes of his parents will. What would
      you leave in your will? Who would you leave it to? What would a will look like?
      This activity would give students another type of writing. It is important for the
      students to experience all types of writing, including business/formal writing.
2. Mouse Maze
   This activity is in the shape of a mouse head. The students will have heard, or
   read, about the differences about mice and little boys. After drinking the delayed-
   action-mouse-maker-formula-64, the students will use their mouse-venn-diagram
   to show the differences between little boys and mice. After weighing the
   advantages and disadvantages, students would decide whether or not they would
   want to be a little boy or a mouse.
3. Peaches are Flowers too!
   In the third grade, students are just beginning to learn about plants and flowers.
   For this lesson, we will read the passage where James spills the magic crystals on
   the peach tree. Then we will talk about how plants grow, and delve into our
   lesson on the different parts of a plant, including the flower. At the end, each
   student will understand that fruits are the “flowers” of some plants.
4. Write Like Wonka: Wonky Writing
   Dahl does an impressive job of cultivating a specific type of dialogue for each
   character. Willy Wonka for example, talks very fast, and often uses a lot of big
   words! I want the students to try to copy this type of writing. It would just be a
   free-write activity, because it is on the harder side. Students however, would learn
   that this type of writing is called a mimesis.
5. Webquest: Roald Dahl’s Biography
   At the beginning of the author study, students will be introduced to Roald Dahl
   through a webquest. As a class, we will generate questions that will guide their
   research. There will be researchers, recorders, and presenters. Each group of
   students will be responsible for having all of their information copied onto their
   Roald Dahl worksheet. This activity will take place in coordination with their
   technology time.
6. Dear Diary,
   During literature circles, students will be taking time to discuss and question
   different aspects of their respective books. One of the literature circle questions
   will be to write a journal entry of one of the characters in their book about an
   event that has just taken place. Since they just learned the term mimesis, students
   will be asked to try to write like their character and think like their character.
7. Norway to England? How Far?
   Since we know that both Dahl and the young boy from The Witches are from
   England but spend summers in Norway, let’s find out how far away from one
   another they are! Since we’ve learned about latitude and longitude, we can find
   each spot, roughly on the globe. Once we’ve done that, we just have to do some
   multiplying to find out how far apart they are! How cool!
8. Collecting Words
   Dahl made a habit of “collecting words.” Whenever he found a worthwhile word,
   he would write it down and pocket it for a later date. Often, they meant the same
   as something else more plain and bland. He had over 25 words that meant the
   same thing as beautiful! These are called synonyms. Synonym means that one
   word means the same thing as another word. Can you find words in Dahl’s books
   that mean the same thing as Rich, Big and Funny?
9. Revolting Recipes Fraction Math
        In Dahl’s Revolting Recipes, there are lots of gross recipes that we can use to
        learn about improper and mixed fractions! They can also help us learn about
        different ways to measure things, like tablespoon, teaspoon and cups or quarts.
        Plus, we don’t have to make any mess, just laugh about all of the terrible things
    10. Witchophiles!
        A witchophile seeks out the Grand High Witch. What are the characteristics of a
        witch? What does characteristic mean? What do you think the Grand High Witch
        is going to be like? This is a reading strategy for the students. They will learn how
        to create questions to base their predictions. As a bonus, they are also learning
        about characteristics.
11. Character Analysis Essay
        For the duration of the author study, students will be gathering information on a
        character of their choosing, from each book. As the book read alouds continue,
        students will begin to draft an essay on how their character in The Witches differs
        from the character in James and the Giant Peach.

NYS Learning Standards:

English Language Arts
-Identify purpose for reading
-Apply corrective strategies, using classroom resources, such as teachers, peers, and
reference tools.
-Recognize the difference between phrases and sentences.
-Engage in silent independent reading
-Recognize and discriminate among a variety of informational texts
-Determine the meaning of unfamiliar words by context clues, dictionaries and other
classroom meanings.
-Use computer software to support reading.
-Begin to develop a voice in writing.
-Listen respectfully and responsively
-Attend to a listening activity for an extended period of time
-Avoid interrupting
-Use revision strategies in writing.
-Form a personal opinion about the quality of texts read aloud on the basis of criteria such
as characters, plot, and setting

-Explore, examine and make observations about a social problem or mathematical
-Act out or model with manipulatives activities involving mathematical content from
-Formuate problems and solve situations.
-Work in collaboration with others to solve problem
-Develop an understanding of fractions as part of a whole unit and as parts of a collection
-Use manipulatives, visual models and illustrations to name and represent unit fractions, a
whole or a set of objects

-Ask "why" questions in attempts to seek greater understanding concerning objects and
events they have observed and heard about.
-Investigate prior solutions and ideas from books, magazines, family, friends, neighbors,
and community members.
-Create a grade-appropriate graphic or plan listing all materials needed, showing sizes of
parts, indicating how things will fit together, and detail- ing steps for assembly
-Plants manufacture food by utilizing air, water, and energy from the Sun

Favorite Lines:

The Witches
"It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you."
- I absolutely love this line. Teachers, parents, grandparents, should all read this book to
their students, children and grandchildren just for the sake of this line. It shows that
looks are not important because someone, somewhere is going to love you. It made me
feel good reading the book.

James and the Giant Peach
"My dear young fellow,' the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, 'there are a whole lot of
things in this world of ours you haven't started wondering about yet."
-This quote really strikes me because of how it reasonates. As a young child, there are
many things in life that just float right over our heads, but when we catch one of those
thoughts…we sometimes are completely at a loss as to what to do. As we age, it is then
we realize many of the completely preposterous things that occur in our own world, but
as we age, we become immune to how ridiculous they are.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
"I understand what you're saying, and your comments are valuable, but I'm gonna ignore
your advice."
-How often have we done this? Asked someone for advice, but completely gone in a
different direction? I know I have, for one. I think that this quote is great journal entry for
some students, and it could definitely spark genuine conversation about advice, listening
skills and accepting help.

"I'm right and you're wrong, I'm big and you're small, and there's nothing you can do
about it."
- Another one of my favorite quotes. I remember my dad quoting this to me after I had
finished Matilda for the first time. Although it is a line that is negative in the book, I think
that teachers can make this positive. When you’re teaching, remind students that just
because you are in charge, it doesn’t mean you are always right.
"The witching hour, somebody had once whispered to her, was a special moment in the
middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and
all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world all to themselves."
-Roald Dahl is a magical writer. There is something about this quote, where the students
could close their eyes to imagine what can come out of hiding while the world is deep,
deep asleep.

The Twits
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a
crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it
will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."
-This quote just makes me laugh because of the dead-on truth of it. Someone could be
drop dead gorgeous and if their personality is awful, it seems to eke out of them like a
bad odor. I think that it is a valuable lesson for students and young children in general to
learn, because it could affect their future behaviors.

Evaluation/Assessment: Students will be evaluated based on a portfolio that will be kept
during the author study. They will also be assessed based on their presentation of their
individual literature circle books. The culmination of their assessment will be the rubric
that will be graded based on their character analysis essay.


Roald Dahl’s
       James and the Giant Peach
       The Witches
       Fantastic Mr. Fox
       The BFG
       The Twits
       Revolting Recipes

NYS Standards

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