Describing the Characters and Setting with "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"

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SWBAT describe the characters and setting using the book "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"

Big Idea

In this lesson students will be able to describe the character traits of the main characters and compare and contrast Chewandswallow with their town using a Venn Diagram.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

I am a lucky lady to have such a wonderful team to work with.  We all share the work and then share our lessons with each other.  I get so many ideas on how to teach to a certain standard because my teammates think of things I would never have thought of.  The student packet for this lesson was provided by my wonderful teammate, Julie Leathers.  she said it would be fine if I shared it with you.  If your teammates and you are not currently "dividing and conquering" I would highly suggest it.  It will help you grow as an educator and take a lot of stress off of you. 


For this lesson, you are going to need the book "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"  and either the Notebook of Flipchart file to go with your interactive whiteboard. I have these files for you in the resource section here.  You will also need to copy enough student packets for each child in your class.  After you have done this, you are ready to go.

Read Aloud and Discussion of the Story

15 minutes

     As I've mentioned in other lessons, my district is moving to accountable talk as Common Core approaches.  You won't find the words accountable talk anywhere in the standards. You will see the words "collaborative conversations" in the standards.  Accountable talk is a strategy that gets students really talking to each other by using evidence and listening to each other.  the University of Pittsburg has a sourcebook about accountable talk.  I have posted it for you in the resource section.  I also have accountable talk cards for you in the resource section.  I copied one of each card, hole punched them and put yarn through them to make necklaces.  This way my students can take turns being the speaker and listener and they have access to both cards. 

      I partnered my students up beforehand and had them sit next to each other on the carpet.  They decided who would be Person 1 and who would be Person 2.  I read to the part of the story where Grandpa was sitting on the bed telling the kids a tall tale.  I said, "We've learned a bit about Grandpa so far.  Let's talk about him.  How can we describe him?  Person 1 - you are the speaker.  Tell your partner how you would describe Grandpa.  Remember to speak in complete sentences.  Person 2 - you are the listener.  Ask your partner why they think that and what their evidence is."  Then we had a group conversation.  The group conversation is important to have because if you use effective questioning techniques you can challenge your students to really think deeply.  You can push them further by asking questions like, "What do you think about what (s)he just said?  Do you agree or disagree?  Why?" My students came up with some really great answers like, he's funny because he flipped the pancake on his head.  He's caring because he reads his grandkids stories, and he's fun because he tells tall tales. 

      Then I said, "There are 2 kids in the story.  How can we describe them?  Partner 1-this time you are the listener.  Ask your partner why they think that and what their evidence is.  Person 2- you are the speaker.  Tell your partner what you think."  Then we had our group talk.  This time my class came up with polite because they have good manners at the table and when they're listening to the story, and happy because they are smiling during the story. 

     I continued reading to the end of the story.  After I had finished I said,  "We read about a lot of characters - the townspeople.  How can we describe them?  Partner 1 - you are the speaker again.  Tell your partner what you think.  Person 2 - ask your partner why they think that and what their evidence is."  After they talked, we had our group discussion.  This time my class said the townspeople were brave for crossing the sea, and good for helping each other. 



Guided Practice (We Do)

15 minutes

    Because we are simply focusing on identifying characters and setting, and not yet working on analyzing, my students are ready to do both the characters and the settings in one lesson, but this lesson could be split into two days if you feel that your students need to take on one topic at a time.  Since we had already done the "Where the Wild Things Are" lesson which is similar to this one, I really modeled the writing part much less.  I brought up the Activeboard lesson and talked about the first page.  I said, "This is exactly like what we did a few days ago with the other lesson.  Let's write in the character names in the first column." We wrote  Grandpa, The Kids, and The Townspeople.  Then I said, "In the second column, you need to write a describing word or two about the character and in the third column you need to draw a picture that matches your describing word.  You should know exactly what to write because we just talked about it. Does everyone understand what to do?"  Then I let them work independently for about 5-10 minutes. 

     After they had done the first page we turned to the second page and the Venn Diagram.  I said, "A Venn Diagram is much like a double bubble map that we use.  A  Venn diagram is used to compare and contrast.  We are going to compare and contrast our town with Chewandswallow. The outside parts of the oval tell how our town is different for Chewandswallow.  The inside circle shows how our town is the same as Chewandswallow."  I had sent the partners back to the tables to sit next to each other so they could do more talking.  I said, "O.K partners.  I want you to talk about how our town is different from Chewandswallow.  Go." I gave them about 2-3 minutes to talk about it.  Then we had group sharing time.  Boy did they come up with some great answers.  Some of the answers my students said was that Chewandswallow doesn't have grocery stores and our town does, we have to cook our own food and the people of Chewandswallow don't, and it rains food in Chewandswallow and it doesn't in our town. 

     Then I said, "O.K partners.  Let's talk about how Chewandswallow and our town are the same. Go." I gave them another 2-3 minutes to do this.  Then we had group sharing time. Again, my class gave me some great answers.  Some of the answers they told me were,  we both have houses, both of our towns have tornados, they're both towns, and both towns have food.  Since we had done a great deal of talking and my students already had experience I let them work independently.  All I did was point at the Venn Diagram and said "Remember, the differences go on the outside and the similarities go on the inside.  Does everyone understand what to do? "  I wanted to see how well they could work independently and use their phonics skills to sound out words to write.  No one in the class said they had trouble and didn't know what to do, so I'm happy about the choice I made by taking away that modeling.

I walked around asking my students questions about similarities and differences and they were able to compare and contrast well.  I have their responses on the video here.


3 minutes

My closure was simple and to the point.  Before they handed in their papers I said, "What did we learn about the characters in the story today?  How is our town and Chewandswallow alike?  How is our town and Chewandswallow different? "