Lesson: Characteristics of Fiction

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to notice characteristics of realistic fiction stories. They will also list events, characters, and places in these stories that could exist in the world.

Lesson Plan

Connection (3-5 mins): Students should be seated on the carpet with a partner.  They will be expected to turn and talk to this partner throughout the lesson.  Writers, today we will begin a new unit of study.  We have written many different genres in the past few months.  Each of you published a personal narrative as well as a research paper.  However, each of these published pieces, was a work of non-fiction.  Our personal narratives were stories from our lives and our research papers were based on facts about a famous person.   Today, we will begin a realistic fiction unit, one where our imaginations can run wild as we explore the fiction genre. 

Teach/Active Engagement (10-12 mins):  Realistic fiction is a story that has never happened because it is fiction.  Fiction is a story, something not real or true.  However, realistic fiction means that the story could actually happen.  It is based in reality.  The characters face real problems and the story takes place in a real setting but it has never occurred because it is still fiction.   Today, we will read an example of realistic fiction and discuss the characteristics of this genre.

Teacher reads aloud first few pages of Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting.  Teacher stops and models thinking.  While I was reading this, I know it is a fiction book because I found it in the fiction bin of our library.  I also know the book has characters and follows a story mountain which let me know it’s a fiction book.  However, I think a lot of the events in the story could really happen.  I can imagine a boy being in an airport with his father watching airplanes fly out of the terminal.  When I go home to North Carolina, I see boys with their fathers watching planes all the time.  That’s why I love this genre, because the stories could actually happen in real life.  This allows me to connect more closely with the characters of the story and visualize the events actually happening.  Let’s keep reading.

Teacher reads aloud next few pages of Fly Away Home.  I noticed many other events in this story that could really happen.  Did you?  Turn and tell your partner a part you heard that was realistic.  Teacher listens in to partners and has some students share out their responses.  Teacher charts student comments on a class chart.

Teacher continues reading until the end of the book.  Students should turn and talk again to discuss realistic events in the story.  Teacher calls on students to share and charts students’ comments. 

You did a wonderful job noticing what events in the story were realistic.  Remember, realistic fiction features characters, events, and places that could exist in real life to help us form deeper connections with the text.  When you return to your seats today you will have a chance to browse through many more realistic fiction books.  As you look through these books, make a list of characteristics you notice and realistic events that are featured in these books.  This is your day to explore the genre before we begin the actual writing process.  Off you go!


Workshop Time (15-20 mins):  Students return to their seats.  Each group will be given a bin of books to look through (mostly picture books).  Students should skim through the books with their partners.  They will sort the books according to genre, paying close attention to the realistic fiction stories.  I try to include a non-fiction book and fantasy book in each bin to ensure students can clearly discard these.  As students sort through the book bin they will record what they notice about the realistic fiction stories on note cards.

Exit Slip/Share (3-5 mins): Teacher will collect note cards from students.  Students will also have a chance to share books from their bins.  Each group will share one example of realistic fiction with the rest of the class and explain their reasoning as to why the book is an example of non-fiction.  Teacher can offer feedback and correct any student misunderstandings at this time.

Reflection: This is an introductory lesson for the unit.  I have found in the past that students are not familiar with the realistic fiction genre.  They may know the difference between fiction and non-fiction but do not understand that fiction can be broken down into multiple categories.  This is a great foundational lesson that allows students to explore the genre and work together to come to conclusions about realistic fiction.  I use Fly Away Home for read aloud in this lesson however, Your Move also by Eve Bunting is a great book as well

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