- Grades: PreK–K
- Unit Plan:
- Engage in conversation about literature
- Use the terms character, plot, and setting
- Determine the character, plot, and setting of a book
- Curious George Flies a Kite by H.A. Rey
- Setting Analysis Sheet (PDF)
- Plot Analysis Sheet (PDF)
- Character Analysis Sheet (PDF)
- Blank paper (11x17)
- Chart paper and markers
Set Up and Prepare
- Figure out pairs of talk partners (I usually assign children that are of similar academic ability, will keep each other in line behaviorally, and will actually talk to each other.)
- Fold the 11x17 paper in half and write one talk partner's name in one box and the other in the other box. Make one paper for each set of talk partners
- Before the students come to the rug for this lesson, lay out the papers on the rug to guide the students where to sit for this lesson
- Make class copies of the Character Analysis Sheet (PDF), Plot Analysis Sheet (PDF), and Setting Analysis Sheet (PDF)
- Make large versions of the analysis sheets on chart paper to model for the class
With this lesson I teach the students how to engage in conversation about literature. I look at the same text for three days to get a deeper understanding of the book. As students are working independently, encourage them to think above and beyond what was done at the rug by praising students doing this.
Have the students find their spots on the rug next to their talking partner. You might want them to stand on their name, hold hands with their talk partner, or remove the paper and then sit down. If you have a more independent group, you could just have them find their name and sit with their talk partner. Be sure to collect the papers before beginning the lesson.
Explain to the students that for this lesson they will be working with their talk partner. At certain times during the lesson, you will ask the students to turn to talk to their talk partners and then, when it is time to stop, you will say 3-2-1 and by one they will all be ready with their eyes on you. I have my students practice these two transitions a lot before we are actually discussing anything. I usually model with one pair and show the others that they are to sit knee-to-knee and eye-to-eye with their talk partners. Then, when I count 3-2-1, the model pair stops talking, turns back to me and looks at me. Then everyone practices. (Some groups need reminders that when they are listening to their talk partners, they need to look at them and not be talking.)
Show the students the book Curious George Flies a Kite. Since the bulk of this lesson is teaching how to turn and talk to a talk partner, I am just going to do a picture walk with the book and tell the group that this is a book we will study all week, but today we are only going to look through the book to get clues about the setting. Then go through several key pages that show where (city or country, inside, outside, or both) and when (day or night and summer or winter) the book takes place.
Show the students the large chart-paper version of the setting sheet and go through filling it out together using drawings and words. Then send the students to their tables to fill out their own. (Sometimes, I have students sit next to their talk partners. I don't think that is necessary, but you may want to add a component of sharing at the tables.) When filling out the paper challenge have your confident writers write sentences and your struggling writers draw a picture and add some sounds they hear in the words they are writing.
When the students return to the rug, you may want to highlight work that gives a different perspective to the setting, or just completes the assignment well.
Again, have the students come to the rug sitting next to their talk partners. You may or may not need to use the name papers again to have them find their spots.
Review what the students already know about the book. Ask them about the setting. Then as you read the book, stop occasionally to ask plot-based questions: "What will happen next?" "What did George just do?" "Why did he do it?" etc. At each question, have them turn to their talk partners to share their thinking. Then have a few students share their thinking with the class.
At the end of the story show them the large chart-paper version of the plot analysis paper. Ask them to discuss with their talk partners the beginning, middle, and end of the book. Then as a class fill out the chart together.
Send the students to their tables to fill out their own papers.
Return to the rug and highlight work well done.
Again, the students will sit with their talk partners. Today they will focus on George himself. You will need to decide whether or not to read the story again. It is a long book, and a picture walk might give the students enough information about George to answer the questions. Sometimes I do read the book again and tell them that as I read the book this time I want them to be watching George. We need to get to know him a little better. Usually I make this decision based on how much time I have for the lesson. Have the students discuss George with their talk partners.
Fill out the large character analysis sheet together.
The students work independently on their character analysis sheets, and then you can highlight interesting work with the class.
Supporting All Learners
For my students who have a hard time working with others, I usually pair them up with someone who is nice and will tell me if there is trouble. As the students are talking to their talk partners, I usually scoot around the rug to eavesdrop; I often go straight to the kids who have a hard time with partner work. Sometimes, it is helpful for a certain students who get easily overwhelmed to sit at a table nearby with their talk partner. This way all the kids talking at once do not overwhelm them. I try not to have a partner myself because I want to be able to be accessible to everyone during this.
Students could definitely add an art component to these. I have had them make shoebox dioramas to show setting, puppets to show characters, and large all-class murals for plot.
For homework my students having journal writing every night as well as a nightly reading log they fill out. Some nights the journal is a free write. Other nights I have them write the character, plot, or setting to the book they read for their reading log.
The students will learn how to talk to peers about literature.
The students will write the character, plot, and setting to a book.
- Were my students talking about the book when they were working in talk partners?
- Were my students able to easily find their talk partner?
- Were my students able to discuss character, plot, and setting?
- Is there anything I need to do differently next time?
As the students are discussing literature, observe:
- Are my students able to work with a talk partner?
- Are my students able to use the terms character, plot and setting?