At the start of the lesson, I told students we were going learn how to determine the central message of a story. I said, "When we think about the message of a story, questions we can ask are, “What can we learn from this story?” or “What does this story teach us?” Then I did a Think Aloud with students to show how I determine the central message of a story using key details. This helped students see the thinking process employed to determine the message. I also modeled completing the graphic organizer and writing details from the text that support the message.
After modeling a few examples, I had students complete the remainder of the organizer with me. They wrote their own responses on their whiteboard. This allowed me to assess students real-time and give immediate feedback.
After I had modeled and completed a guided practice with students, they were divided into heterogeneous groupings based on learning style or ability and English language proficiency. Working in groups of two, students completed the blank graphic organizer on the back to determine the central message of The Ballad of Mulan by Nan Zang Song. It is about a girl who goes to war in place of her father. This is a story all students had read. This allowed them to be able to focus on the objective, which is to determine the central message instead of having to comprehend a new story and determine the central message. Having them practice with this familiar text prepared them to apply the skill to an unfamiliar text later.
I assessed student work using a rubric. The four categories were 1) ability to determine the central message providing evidence from the text, 2) ability to determine the central message, 3) attempt to determine the central message, and 4) writing a fact from the text.