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Young Readers' Series: Dragon Tales

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Open to: Grades 2-3

Prerequisites: Qualifying verbal score

Course Format: Web-based classroom

Course Length: Session-based: 10 weeks (fall, winter, spring, late summer) or 12 weeks (early summer); Session Dates and Application Deadlines

Course Code: YYDT

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Course Description     

Description

When Winnie, Creel, and Hiccup befriend dragons, they do not realize how completely their lives and outlooks will be changed. As relationships develop, prejudices shift, and just who is the boss is unclear. In Dragon Tales, students explore people’s attitudes toward dragons, which vary from friendship and fascination to fear. The three books include humor, suspense, fantasy, mystery, and adventure. A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep, The Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George, and How to Train Your Dragon: How to Steal a Dragon's Sword (Book 9) by Cressida Cowell. [Note: Since we provide an introduction, students do not need to have read the first 8 books to understand Book 9 of the How to Train a Dragon Series.]  
View the Home Page of the Dragon Tales classroom.

About the Young Readers' Series for Grades 2 & 3

The Young Readers' Series is designed enhance a student's critical reading, writing, and thinking skills. Designed for enrichment, course assignments meet or surpass the Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading. As students participate in written discussion forums, they make inferences, determine motivations, evaluate arguments, and provide textual evidence to support their opinions. Creative writing assignments encourage students to take on different points of view, summarize details, compare authors, and discuss central ideas. 
 
Designed for children reading at a 5th grade level or above, students enrolled in the Young Readers' Series for Grades 2 and 3:
 
  • Read three or four thematically connected, age-appropriate books of increasing difficulty
  • Participate in online written discussions with gifted classmates from Boston to Beijing
  • Post writing assignments such as newspaper articles, letters, journals, dialogues, and editorials
  • Learn sophisticated vocabulary words and literary devices with the help of online games and puzzles
  • Receive individualized written feedback from their instructor about each lesson's work

Parents Ask...

  • Students typically read and share written responses every other day (fall, spring, and early summer sessions) or daily (midsummer intensive session).
  • Work is posted in the virtual classrooms at the student’s convenience as long as each lesson's deadlines are met.
  • It does not matter whether a student has already read one or all of the books before the course begins because the emphasis on citing the text requires careful re-reading.
  • Students must already be proficient in Standard Written English. [Instructors discuss grammar only when it affects meaning.]
  • These critical reading courses are designed to be ungraded, enrichment courses; instead of a grade, instructors provide specific feedback about each student's work at the end of each lesson and a detailed final evaluation at the end of the course. Parents or guardians may request a final grade if needed for school credit.

About Readability and Appropriateness

Parents are encouraged to consider the information contained in Readability and Appropriateness, Look inside the books, and Read the reviews for the books before deciding on the course that would be most interesting and appropriate for their child.

Readability

The easiest method to check readability for your child is the “Five Finger Rule.” Have the child begin reading aloud any page of a book at random and raise your finger each time he or she struggles with a word. If your child reaches the end of the page before you have raised five fingers, your child should be able to read the book independently.

CTY Online Programs simplifies this informal assessment by linking to pages of almost every book in the Look inside the books section. Please perform this “Five Finger Rule” assessment on the last or next to last book of any course you are considering.

Appropriateness

Parents should be aware that each course contains books with humor, mystery, adventure, and heroism as well as suspense and sadness. Please look inside the books and read reviews to decide whether these books are appropriate for your child. If you are still uncertain whether your child is ready for a course, please email us or call 410-735-6144. 

Look inside the books. To assess readability level, click on the bottom two book titles and perform the Five Finger Rule.

Look inside A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
Look inside The Dragon Slippers
Look inside How to Train Your Dragon: How to Steal a Dragon's Sword (Book 9)

Read Reviews. Parents are urged to review for appropriate content.

Reviews of A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
Reviews of The Dragon Slippers
Reviews of How to Train Your Dragon: How to Steal a Dragon's Sword (Book 9)

Materials Needed

  • A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep (Yearling, 2016) ISBN  978-0385392310
  • The Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury, 2008) ISBN 1599902753
  • How to Train Your Dragon: How to Steal a Dragon's Sword (Book 9) by Cressida Cowell (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition, 2013) ISBN 978-0316205702

Detailed Course Information

Course Details

Lesson 1: A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans

Begin reading A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 2: A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans

Finish reading A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board questions.

Lesson 3: Dragon Slippers

Begin reading Dragon Slippers
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 4: Dragon Slippers

Continue reading Dragon Slippers
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 5: Dragon Slippers

Continue reading Dragon Slippers
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 6: Dragon Slippers

Finish reading Dragon Slippers
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 7: How to Train Your Dragon Book 9: How to Steal a Dragon's Sword

View the Introduction to the How to Train Your Dragon Book Series
Begin reading How to Train Your Dragon Book 9: How to Steal a Dragon's Sword
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 8: How to Train Your Dragon Book 9: How to Steal a Dragon's Sword

Continue reading How to Train Your Dragon Book 9: How to Steal a Dragon's Sword
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 9: How to Train Your Dragon Book 9: How to Steal a Dragon's Sword

Finish reading How to Train Your Dragon Book 9: How to Steal a Dragon's Sword
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board
Contribute two thoughtful posts to the Summary Discussion Board

Lesson 10: Summary Assignments covering all three books

Vote your opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum.
Complete the Literary Terms Quest [Quest=More questions than a quiz, but fewer questions than most tests!]

Note: You are provided with a list of “Mind-Expanding Vocabulary Words” from each book that you can use to help better understand the book and increase your knowledge of vocabulary words in general.

OPTIONAL -Not required- Fun and Challenges:

  • Prepare for the Literary Terms Quest by playing the online Literary Terms games and puzzles.
  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Use the Vocabulary Words Review Games to help learn the vocabulary words in a fun way.

Time Required

This course requires approximately three hours for each of the ten lessons. Students should expect to spend approximately 3 hours per week during the course.

Note: Students do not have to meet in the classroom at the same time. A student's written work can be posted in the virtual classroom at the student's convenience as long as deadlines are met.

About Summer Sessions:

The Young Readers' Series offers a 12-week summer session that allows families to take a week or two of vacation and 10-week sessions. All sessions cover the same course material and assignments.

While the 12-week early summer session courses allow for 2 weeks total vacation, students in the Young Readers’ courses are encouraged to work ahead or make up their work to try to keep up with their classmates whenever possible. Experience has shown that these courses are most fun when all students are working on the same lesson. Students must notify the instructor at the course's start about any planned vacation dates and must meet scheduled due dates when they are not on vacation. [Students who make up their work can finish their early summer course in 10 weeks.]

If you have any questions, please contact us before applying at ctyonline@jhu.edu.

Sample Assignment

Demo

Dragon Tales Sample Assignment

To give you an idea of the type of assignments involved, the following is the first of ten lessons:

Instructions for Lesson One

All work is due by the following Sunday at midnight. (That's the end of Sunday, not the beginning!) This means that your assigned reading should be started early and completed by Thursday night--at the latest--to allow you enough time to finish all the assignments (Reading, Quiz, Poll, Blog, and Discussion Posts) by Sunday night.

1. Begin reading A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep in the following reading chunks:

Chapters 1 and 2 (pp. 1 - 23)
Chapters 3 - 4 (pp. 24 - 50)
Chapters 5 - 7 (pp. 51 - 75)

2. Read the pages above and then take this self-graded Quiz.

Directions: Read the pages listed above for this lesson before taking this self-graded quiz. If you don’t know an answer, refer to your book. To answer the last two questions, count how many questions you answered correctly without referring to the book. Feel free to click on the links to learn the definitions of literary terms such as “inference,” “simile,” “alliteration,” and “onomatopoeia.”

3. Vote your opinion in the Poll.

4. Post ONE of the following blog assignments to the Blog Forum:

a. Write a 50-250+ letter from Aunt Amelia to Winnie describing one of her adventures with Miss Drake (either in the past when Aunt Amelia was younger or closer to the present when Aunt Amelia is near death).Your letter should tell Winnie the truth about Miss Drake.

b. Clipper’s Emporium is a colorful store containing magical merchandise, creatures, plants, and more. It is a successful store, but needs your help to lure more customers. Pretend that you work for the marketing department of the Magicians Free Press Magazine and write a 50-250+ word advertisement for Clipper's Emporium, including a few imaginary but useful (or attractive) magical items not mentioned in the book. Here is the chance to let your marketing knowhow and creative juices flow to the benefit of Clipper's Emporium!

5. Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Forum in response to any of the following topics. (Remember! At least one of these two thoughtful posts should be in reply to a discussion post made by another student.)

a. Confusion. What did the author do in the first chapter to purposefully confuse the reader about which of the characters, if any, were human beings? Provide quotes from the text.

b. Backstory. How did Miss Drake become involved with Winnie’s family in the first place? Did all Winnie’s ancestors know about her or only certain family members? Explain.

c. Tongue power. Why does Winnie say “I think you could do a lot more damage with your tongue than you would with your fangs and claws?” Do you think this is true? Explain.

d. Allusions. In Chapters 3 and 4, Miss Drake makes allusions to a number of famous historical personages and events about which she claims first-hand knowledge. Pick one reference and note how the person or event is described by Miss Drake and explain which character or true event to which you think she is referring. That is, provide evidence to support your conclusion.

e. Why so secret? According to Miss Drake, why do “magicals” keep their powers secret or hide from humans altogether (Chapter 3)? Do you agree that hiding is necessary? Could some other approach be taken? Explain.

f. Beauty treatment. In Chapter 4, page 40, why did Miss Drake give the kobold the “dragon’s beauty treatment”? Does her treatment seem fair? Why or why not?

g. The escape. In Chapter 6, describe the different reactions Miss Drake and Winnie have to the realization that the sketchlings had escaped the sketchbook? What is your reaction?

h. Pandora and her box. What could Miss Drake mean when she said in Chapter 6, page 63, “Pandora and her box … had nothing on you and your sketchbook, my pet.” Explain the reference.

i. More hidden secrets. Do you think that Aunt Amelia and Miss Drake were right in asking Winnie to hide such an important secret from her mother? Do you think Winnie is right agreeing to keep the secret from her mother? What harm could come from her telling her mother the truth? Explain your position.

Note: You are provided with a list of “Mind-Expanding Vocabulary Words that you can use to help better understand this book and increase your knowledge of vocabulary words in general.

OPTIONAL--Not required-- Fun and Challenges:

  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Play some of the literary terms games.

Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

This course requires that the student use a web browser with the Adobe Flash plugin. Note that many tablets and handhelds (particularly the iPad) do not support Flash and cannot view the lessons.

 

Reviews

"It is refreshing and motivating for my daughter to read the instructor's specific remarks (She is accustomed to receiving "good" as the sole comment on her efforts!)."

"The instructor was extremely attentive and very encouraging. We thoroughly enjoyed working with her this summer.  She was able to direct my son in such a positive way and leave him empowered to dig deeper into his thinking and writing based on what he read. He was always left more inspired to read more and write more after he read her constructive and encouraging words each week. My husband and I were extremely impressed by the caliber of this course (our very first CTY Online Programs ever!)."

"I really liked how my instructor gave me detailed feedback, which helped me improve further each week. She was very approachable (albeit via email).  I can tell she enjoys teaching and is very kind. I've learned to analyze books in more depth and write thoughtful discussions."

"The instructor’s feedback and instruction have increased my daughter's confidence with regard to her writing skills. My daughter is expressing a strong desire to become an author and wants to continue learning more about writing. She has always excelled in writing at school; however, after taking this course, her middle school teachers have commented on how much more advanced she is than others in her honors courses because of her style of writing."

"The feedback on the writing assignments was incredibly thorough and comprehensive. My son started the course and submitted disorganized work. The instructor's detailed commentary helped him to improve his work dramatically."

"The instructor provides positive feedback, individualized attention and tips that do not overwhelm the children. She motivated my child and gave her the confidence to express herself."

"My instructor's feedback was very helpful - always taking my thinking to a new level. She was thorough and asked good questions. She also was good at sending reminders regarding the work that was due. She made me a better writer and critical thinker. She taught me to ask more questions."

"The instructor’s feedback explained the strong and weak points in my work.  She did this by first mentioning the things she liked, but she wasn't completely fussy, saying my work was amazing just to make me happy. Then, she would point out things I could improve. She does this not by yelling and screaming (you know what I mean), but pointing it out politely, but in a way that I could understand what to do.  She was nice, but also challenges us.  She was also particular not only about the contents of my writing, but about the spelling and grammar.  Even though she challenged us, she also wasn't too hard. People do not learn when things are too easy. When things are too hard, their brains get confused and they don't learn either. My instructor wasn't too hard, but she wasn't too soft.  She really was an outstanding teacher."

"Before I started my young readers’ course, I both disliked writing, and was bad at it. Whenever possible I avoided it. When I started my course with my instructor, I realized a talent for writing I never had before.  As the course went on I realized I was actually getting impatient, waiting for the next lesson so I could write more.  Before I thought of writing as a chore, the way most people think of school (not me!). Now I like to write and do it like it's something fun, which it is. My instructor taught me not only how to write, but also how to like to write."

"The instructor's ability to give thorough constructive criticism through an email, while keeping the tone of the suggestions unfailingly positive was amazing. My daughter learned much about writing in this course. While she reads at a high school level, her writing is much closer to her age (9). Constant positive encouragement and insightful comments enabled her to expand on her thoughts each week."