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Estimated Time Needed

5 - 7 days, 45 minutes per day

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The Smallest Dragonboy
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Homework
  • Culminating Assignment
    • Prompt

      Reflect back on the conflicts Keevan faces throughout the story. How does his determination and perseverance help him overcome these challenges? Use your conflict chart, responses to the questions, and additional evidence from the story to write an essay in which you:
      a)    explain various internal and external conflicts Keevan faces,
      b)    discuss how he responds to them, and

      c)    describe how Keevan’s determination to overcome these conflicts contribute to the achievement of his vision of becoming a dragonrider.

       

      Teacher Instructions

      1.    Day 6 should be used for students to prewrite/plan their essays. Students will be writing their essays on Day 7.

      2.    Students identify their writing task from the prompt provided.

      3.    Students complete an evidence chart as a prewriting activity (this may also be in the form of a Thinking Map). Teachers should remind students to use any relevant notes they compiled while reading and answering the text-dependent questions.

      Evidence

      Quote or paraphrase

      Elaboration / explanation of how this evidence supports ideas or argument

      “set that spanking pace just to embarrass him, the smallest dragonboy”

      Shows the external conflict Keevan faced with Beterli.

      “worked twice as hard as any other boy his age, to prove himself capable”

       

       

      This demonstrates how Keevan reacts to his conflict with Beterli. Instead of giving in to the bully, he continues to work hard to prove himself worthy.

      “Maybe if you run fast enough you could catch a dragon.”

       

      Again, shows the kinds of conflicts Keevan has with Beterli, which then leads us to see how Keevan reacts to these conflicts. Throughout the story, Keevan’s reactions to all of these conflicts make him a stronger person mentally/emotionally, with more confidence and determination.

      “You can’t even see over an egg.”

       

       

      Again, shows the kinds of conflicts Keevan has with Beterli, which then leads us to see how Keevan reacts to these conflicts. Throughout the story, Keevan’s reactions to all of these conflicts make him a stronger person mentally/emotionally, with more confidence and determination.

      “You’d better make sure a dragon sees you this time, Beterli. You’re almost over age aren’t you?”

       

       

      Another example of how Keevan stands up to Beterli, showing that he doesn’t have to be physically strong to stand up for himself.

      “Why waste four to five years of a dragon’s fighting prime until his rider grows up?” “Let the babes wait.”

      This quote leads us to examine an internal conflict Keevan faces after overhearing the Weyr leaders have this discussion. He is afraid that he, along with other young candidates, will not be allowed on the Hatching Ground because of their age.

      “He couldn’t bring himself to tattle on Beterli and force him out of candidacy.”

      This quote is an example of Keevan’s inner strength and kindness. He could have told on Beterli to make sure his main competition was eliminated, but he chooses not to do so. He follows a more righteous path.

      “This was the Impression that mattered! This was his chance to show everyone… that he, Keevan, was worthy of being a dragonrider.”

      His determination, against all odds, to become a dragonrider is most apparent in this part of the story. Even though he is in great pain, he still drags himself to the Hatching Ground.

      “The Weyrmen looked on, amused and surprised at the draconic choice, which could not be forced.”

      This is the climax of the story where the coveted bronze dragon chooses, or Impresses, with Keevan. Everyone is in awe at the choice the dragon has made, including Keevan himself.

      “I like to believe that dragons see into a man’s heart.”

      Although this statement is made early in the story, it is nonetheless a good culminating quote that sums up the narrative. It was not Keevan’s physical strength or age that mattered when it came to impressing a dragon. What mattered was all that he did to deem himself worthy of this honor. In the end, we can say that he has earned this honor by the way he acted in the face of conflict.


      4.    Once students have completed the evidence chart, they should look back at the writing prompt in order to remind themselves what kind of response they are writing (expository, analytical, argumentative) and think about the evidence they found. From here, students should develop a specific thesis statement. This could be done independently, with a partner, in a small group, or with the entire class. Consider directing students to the following sites to learn more about thesis statements: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/545/01/ OR http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/thesis_statement.shtml

      5.    Students compose a rough draft. Teachers should decide how much scaffolding they will provide during this process (e.g., modeling, showing example pieces, sharing work as students go).

      6.    Students complete a final draft.

       

      Sample Answer:

          In the short story, “The Smallest Dragonboy” by Anne McCaffrey, a young boy named Keevan faces a challenging situation. Keevan yearns to earn the respected title of dragonrider. The dragonriders protect Keevan’s planet, Pern, from the deadly Red Star, and joining their ranks is considered a great honor. However, his age and small physique lead Pern’s leaders to question his ability to become a dragonrider and make him the object of constant teasing by the bully Beterli. Throughout the story, Keevan’s determination and perseverance help him overcome the many conflicts he faces and prove that he is indeed a worthy dragonrider.
          At the start of the story, we find out that one of Keevan’s major conflicts is with an older boy named Beterli. This older boy continually bullies Keevan and makes things difficult for him. For example, as they are walking towards the Hatching Ground, Beterli “set [the] spanking pace just to embarrass him, the smallest dragonboy.” Instead of giving up and complaining about the situation, Keevan shows his determination by simply working “twice as hard as any other boy his age, to prove himself capable.” On several occasions, Berteli taunts Keevan, saying things like, “Maybe if you run fast enough you could catch a dragon,” and “You can’t even see over an egg.” Most people would let such unkind statements get to them and would simply give up, but not Keevan. Keevan continually stands up to Beterli by speaking up: “You’d better make sure a dragon sees you this time, Beterli. You’re almost overage aren’t you?” Over and over again, we see how Keevan continues to strive to become a dragonrider against all odds.
          As the story progresses, the odds continue to stack up against Keevan. Not only does he have physical limitations and problems with Beterli, but also he knows that the Weyr leaders are questioning whether or not young boys should even be allowed to attend the Impression.  Overhearing statements such as, “Why waste four to five years of a dragon’s fighting prime until his rider grows up?” and “Let the babes wait,” causes an internal conflict in Keevan as he begins to worry about whether or not he will even be allowed to attend this hatching. This is one of the few instances when Keevan’s confidence begins to waver. Nevertheless, he continues believing that he can impress a dragon and that he is ready to become a dragonrider.  
          The final standoff between Keevan and Beterli occurs when Beterli begins to taunt Keevan about some “news” that is floating around in the Weyr colony. Showing his confidence and determination again, Keevan opts not to play into Beterli’s games and instead gets involved in a physical struggle with the bully. As a result of this physical conflict, Keevan gets “rammed” with a shovel handle by Beterli and is left with many painful injuries. Anyone else would have told on Beterli as soon as he was well enough to do so, but that was not Keevan’s first reaction. Instead, Keevan tries to cover for Beterli, thinking that “he couldn’t bring himself to tattle on Beterli and force him out of candidacy.” This shows Keevan’s innate kindness.
          Keevan’s injuries potentially take him out of the Impression ceremony because he is too hurt to walk. One might believe this is the end of the story and that Keevan will have to wait another year to impress a dragon. Once more, however, we see his perseverance and determination. As soon as he hears the humming begin, signaling that the hatching has begun, he immediately knows that “this was his chance to show everyone… that he, Keevan, was worthy of being a dragonrider.” Through excruciating pain, Keevan manages to drag himself to the Hatching Ground, proving that his true strength lies within.  As “the Weyrmen looked on, amused and surprised at the draconic choice, which could not be forced,” Keevan finally realizes that he has been chosen by a bronze dragon.
          In the end, Mende’s words, “I like to believe that dragons see into a man’s heart,” prove to be true. Instead of cowering in the face of the many challenges he encounters, Keevan faces these challenges and becomes a stronger, more confident boy. Throughout the story, he proves he can handle any situation without ever losing his sense of kindness and righteousness. This, along with his determination to achieve his long-held dream of becoming a dragonrider, results in Keevan impressing a bronze dragon.

  • Additional Tasks
      • Identify the following sentences as simple, compound, complex, or compound-complex and state why you labeled each as such:
        a)    “His worry increased, because although he heard excited comings and goings in the passageway, no one tweaked back the curtain across the sleeping alcove he shared with five other boys.”
        b)    “He couldn’t wait.”
        c)    “The population of the Weyr began to assemble for the evening meal, and the dragonriders came in from the Feeding Ground on their sweep checks.”
        d)    “As the evening progressed, more riders were favoring eliminating the youngest and those who’d passed four or more Impressions unchosen.”

        a)    Compound-complex: the sentence contains two independent clauses “His worry increased” and “no one tweaked back the curtain across the sleeping alcove he shared with five other boys,” as well as a dependent clause “although he heard excited comings and goings in the passageway.”
        b)    Simple: the sentence contains only one subject and one predicate.
        c)    Compound: the sentence contains two independent clauses joined by the conjunction “and.”
        d)    Complex: the sentence contains one dependent clause that begins with the subordinate conjunction “as” and one independent clause.

      • Students will select a person (may be someone currently living or someone from the past) that they feel has succeeded in the face of adversity through hard work, determination, and perseverance. Students will take notes that will include a short biography of the person, the challenges the person faced, and how he/she overcame them. Students will present the information they have gathered using multimedia programs such as PowerPoint, Prezi, or any Web 2.0 tool (e.g., Little Bird Tales, littlebirdtales.com). Note: If the technology is not available, students may present their research using any other visual format.

  • Notes to the Teacher
    • •    This lesson should take approximately 5-7 days, depending on students’ knowledge/ability level. Teachers will go over vocabulary and stop to check comprehension during the chunked reading of the text. Students should answer text-dependent questions and fill out their charts independently before sharing their work with their groups/partners.

      •    Web 2.0 sites allow users to interact and collaborate with each other in a virtual community. Some examples are social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, and web applications.

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