Additional Resources

Estimated Time Needed

5 - 7 days, 45 minutes per day

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The Smallest Dragonboy
During the
  • During Teaching
    • Day 1: Teachers read text or play the audio version of the story (unencumbered read).

      Days 2-4: Students read the chunked text independently.  Students should begin filling out an internal and external conflicts chart (Tree Map) and answering assigned questions. At the end of each day’s reading, students will work in groups or pairs to share their conflicts charts and question responses. Teacher should discuss answers with students.

      a. Day 2: Fill out conflicts chart, answer questions 1-4, and share out.

      b. Day 3: Fill out conflicts chart, answer questions 5-7, and share out.

      c. Day 4: Fill out conflicts chart, answer question 8, and share out.

      *Teacher may provide language frames for students to share their charts and responses.

      Example: ______________________________ is an example of an _____________________ conflict because _________________________________________________.


      Day 5: Teacher reviews types of sentences as a grammar mini-lesson. Students answer questions 9-11 independently.

  • Text Dependent Questions
    • Text-dependent Questions

      Evidence-based Answers

      Based on the information provided in the “Background” part of the text, how is Pern protected from the deadly Red Star that emits thread-like spores on the planet?

      In order to protect Pern, the colonists of Pern have “bioengineered a race of great winged dragons.” Dragonriders and their dragons fly through the sky to “char Thread to ashes” before they fall on Pern soil.

      Keevan’s goal is to become a dragonrider. What are some of the things he states make him look forward to becoming a dragonrider the most?

      Keevan looks forward to having a personal connection with a dragon: “To sit astride the neck of a winged beast with jeweled eyes; to be his friend, in telepathic communion with him for life; to be his companion in good times and fighting extremes.”

      He also looks forward to the excitement of flying through the air on a dragon: “To fly effortlessly over the lands of Pern! Or, thrillingly between any point anywhere on the world! Flying between was done on dragonback or not at all, and it was dangerous.”

      Keevan thinks to himself, “What if his muscles weren’t as big as Beterli’s? They were just as hard. And if he couldn’t overpower anyone in a wrestling match, he could outdistance everyone in a footrace.” What does this tell you about Keevan’s character?

      Based on the evidence, I can infer that Keevan is confident and believes in himself. He is greatly determined to reach his goal of becoming a dragonrider. Even though he is physically small, he still cites ways in which he is equal or stronger, e.g., his muscles are “just as hard” and “he could outdistance everyone.”



      According to Mende, Keevan’s foster mother, what qualities do dragons look for in a candidate? How might her words help Keevan’s confidence?

      Mende tells Keevan that she believes dragons look for “goodness, honesty, a flexible mind, patience, courage…someone not so strong or tall or handsome.” She continues on to assure Keevan that he has all of these qualities. This helps Keevan feel even more confident that he can achieve his goal of impressing a dragon, even if he is the smallest candidate.


      The author writes, “Yes, being the smallest candidate was not an enviable position. It was therefore imperative that Keevan impress a dragon in his first hatching.” Why was this so important to him?

      At the beginning of the story, Keevan’s goal is “to be chosen to be a dragonrider!” Because being the smallest candidate was not “enviable” and because he was constantly bullied by Beterli, it was especially important to him that he “impress a dragon in the first hatching.”

      Based on what you’ve learned about Beterli’s past, why do you believe Beterli continues to taunt (tease) Keevan? Use evidence from the story to support your response.


      In the story, we have learned that Beterli is “the most senior of the boys” and that he has not been chosen in the last eight Impressions. This leads me to believe that he may be angry or bitter about not being chosen and is picking on Keevan for this reason. He also seems desperate this time around as he steps up “officiously to ‘his’ egg, daring anyone to come near it.”

      What tone does the phrase “grave expression” convey in this part of the story?


      Possible Answer (answers may vary):

      The phrase “grave expression” is used by the author when he explains that there are only “forty eggs for seventy-two candidates.” This, along with the phrase “grave expression,” gives this part of the story a (sad, gloomy, serious, melancholy) tone.

      What decision were the dragonriders trying to make over dinner? How does Keevan feel about the possible options?


      The dragonriders are trying to decide whether or not they will eliminate any of the candidates. The options are to eliminate the youngest, the ones who have been passed over four or more times, or both. Keevan felt he could face the elimination as long as Beterli was also eliminated.

      What events lead to the fight between Beterli and Keevan?

      From the beginning of the story, the conflict between Beterli and Keevan is apparent. Beterli constantly teases Keevan about his size and abilities, saying things like:

      • “Maybe if you run fast enough you can catch a dragon.”
      • “They’ve got to be able to find you first, babe!”  
      • “You can’t even see over an egg.”

      Keevan becomes less and less tolerant of Beterli’s comments as the story continues until he finally has had enough. When Beterli asks Keevan to “guess what the news is,” Keevan refuses to guess. Beterli then gets upset and pulls the shovel away from Keevan, leading to a struggle between the two boys. The struggle with the shovel continues until Beterli “ram[s] the handle into Keevan’s chest…”

      Lessa asks Keevan, “Keevan, will you tell me what occurred at the black-rock bunker?” What is his inner reaction to this conflict? What can you infer about Keevan from his actions?

      Keevan is faced with the internal conflict of whether or not to tell on Beterli. “Much as he hated Beterli, he couldn’t bring himself to tattle on Beterli and force him out of candidacy.” This action demonstrates the “goodness” and “courage” that Mende refers to at the start of the story.

      Keevan asks Mende if he is still a candidate. Her response to him is, “Well, you are and you aren’t lovey.” What do you think she means by this comment? How does this add conflict to his life?

      Even though he has not been disqualified, like Beterli has, it is still assumed that he will not be able to participate because of his injuries. This creates more stress for him. Now he has to deal with his new physical limitations impeding his chances of impressing a dragon at the first hatching or even being able to attend.

      The author states, “The hum began to grow. Two things registered suddenly in Keevan’s groggy mind: The only white candidate’s robe still on the pegs in the chamber was his, and the dragons hummed when a clutch was being laid or being hatched. Impression!”  What is Keevan’s reaction when this occurs?


      Keevan was bitterly disappointed that he was lying in bed, injured when the hatching began. However, he takes this as a challenge and decides to prove to everyone that he is worthy of becoming a dragonrider by “fighting against the tears that threatened to choke him” and getting out of bed. Through his pain, he continues to struggle down the ramp to the Hatching Ground.

      “Never had the Weyr been so breathlessly silent. It was as if the multitude of people and dragons watching the hatching held every breath in suspense. Not even the wind muttered down the steep sides of the bowl. The only sounds to break the stillness were Keevan’s ragged gasps and the thump-thud of his stick on the hard-packed ground.”  

      In this passage, why does the author use the metaphor, “Not even the wind muttered down the steep sides of the bowl”?

      Possible Answer (answers may vary):

      The author uses this metaphor in the story to build suspense and show the desperation and anticipation Keevan feels as he is hobbling down to the Hatching Ground.

      Why did the bronze dragon refuse to choose a rider at the Hatching Ground?

      According to the Weyrleader and Weyrwoman, the bronze dragon had not made a choice “because the right boy” wasn’t present and the ones present were not “acceptable.”

      How does Keevan’s inner strength and determination pay off in the end? How does he continue to prove that he is strong and determined?

      In the end, the coveted bronze dragon Impresses with Keevan. His motivation and perseverance win the bronze dragon over. Even as he is lying on the floor, Keevan continues to show how strong and motivated he is by not accepting help from F’lar and taking care of his new dragon on his own.

      In the end, what is the significance of Keevan’s name change to K’van?

      The name change signifies that he is now a dragonrider. “Then he gave her a radiant smile, recognizing the traditional shortening of his name that raised him forever to the rank of dragonrider.”

  • Academic Vocabulary

      These words require less time to learn

      (They are concrete or describe an object/event/

      process/characteristic that is familiar to students.)

      These words require more time to learn

      (They are abstract, have multiple meanings, are a part

      of a word family, or are likely to appear again in future texts.)

      Meaning can be learned from context






      grave expression














      Meaning needs to be provided



      spanking pace




      turf the babes



















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