Lesson: Main Idea (fiction), Lesson 18

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Lesson Objective

SWBAT identify the elements of fiction (problem, solution, character, and setting); SWBAT select and justify the most important event in a book; SWBAT identify the theme of a work as what the author is trying to tell the reader.

Lesson Plan

Edward W. Brooke Charter School

Problems in Fiction Unit


Mini-Lesson: Readers don’t write down events unless they make the problem get worse or better.



  • Book Baggies with leveled fiction books
  • Problems in Fiction Graphic Organizers student copies
  • Problems in Fiction Graphic Organizer from yesterday's Read Aloud (example below used Mr. Lincoln's Way)



Connection: Yesterday you learned that you can write down the important events in your books in order to better remember them.  As you do this, only write down the events that make the problem better or worse, as these are the only events that are important to remember.



Teach: Yesterday, I wrote down a list of important events that happened in the story, Mr. Lincoln’s Way (include 2-3 insignificant events on the list).  I am going to review those events now to make sure that each one made the problem get  better or worse. Think aloud as you come to the first few events, explaining why each one does or does not belong.

Important Events in Mr. Lincoln’s Way

  • Mr. Lincoln was a cool principal. Everyone liked him. (unimportant – not even an event; even though he was a nice principal, the fact he was nice didn’t change the story. His later actions did)
  • “Mean Gene” bullied the other students and was rude to all the teachers. (This makes the problem worse because it makes people dislike Gene.)
  • Mr. Lincoln wanted to find a way to “reach out” to Gene. (This make the problem better because it helped Mr. Lincoln prove  to Gene that he cared about him.)
  • One day Mr. Lincoln realized that Gene was really interested in birds. (This will make the problem better because Mr. Lincoln has learned what he can do to help Gene enjoy school.)
  • Gene told Mr. Lincoln that he used to live on a farm with his grandpa, where there were lots of birds. (This makes the problem better because Gene is finally opening up and sharing about his life. He is beginning to trust Mr. Lincoln.)
  • A week went by (unimportant; this doesn’t change the problem in any way.)
  • Mr. Lincoln asked Gene to help him attract more birds to the school yard and he gave him a new bird book. (This makes the problem better because Gene takes pride in the project and feels good about himself.)
  • Gene’s English teacher let him read the bird book in class (unimportant; this has no impact on the problem.)
  • Gene got really excited about the bird project. He started to behave and treat others respectfully. (This makes the problem better because Gene is getting happier and happier.)
  • Gene and Mr. Lincoln found a way to help the ducklings get into a nearby pond. (This makes the problem better because everyone is thankful that Gene helped the ducklings.)
  • Gene’s grandma came to watch the ducks. Eugenewas happy. (This makes the problem better because Gene is really happy to see his grandfather.)


Active Engagement: Continue reading the list of events. Tell students to put their thumbs up or down for each event to show whether or not it belongs on the list.  When you get to an event that does not belong, stress that it doesn’t belong because it neither makes the problem better nor worse. 



Link: Today, as you continue to list the important events that occur in your, only include those that make the problem better or worse. None of the other events are as important.



Share: Remember, only write down events that make the problem get worse or better, because those are the only events that are important.

Lesson Resources

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