Sequencing with "A Big Fish for Max"

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SWBAT sequence the events from the beginning, middle, and end of the story using a flow map.

Big Idea

Today students practice close reading as they look for evidence in the story so they can sequence the events for the beginning, middle, and end.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

I am always trying to have my students write in response to reading.  What I love about the Common Core Standards is that we can dig really deep into content.  This activity will take quite a bit longer than traditional worksheets or questions and answer sheets, but by the end of this lesson my students will really understand sequencing well. What I also wanted to focus on with this lesson was having students go back into the story and look for evidence.  We are building the foundation in this lesson for close reading.  Close reading is a new buzz word we hear with the new implementation of Common Core.  All close reading really is having students go back and look more closely at the story to answer questions and in future years to reveal deeper layers of meaning.  When students answer questions about key details in the text they address standard RL1.1.

I also try to find engaging activities for my students so this activity is also part art project.  We are going to be utilizing Dinah Zyke's dioramas.  I have the instructions for how to prep them in the resource section here.  You will have to make 3 dioramas for each student as well as 3 writing papers and 3 mounting papers. 

I know there are lots of teachers out there who are using a new reading series that is more Common Core aligned than what was in place before.  My district just implemented Pearson's Reading Street this year.  No matter what series you are using, this lesson will give you an idea of how you can implement reading and writing activities in your weekly reading lessons and not have to copy the pages from the huge pile of teacher resource books that come with your reading series. 

For this lesson you will either need the Smartboard A Big Fish for Max Sequencing.notebook or Activboard  A Big Fish for Max Sequencing.flipchart lesson.  You will also want to make flow map A Big Fish For Max Student Flow Maps.docx packets for each of your students.  I copy 3 maps for each student so they could sequence the events for the beginning, middle, and end of the story. You might also want to preview the answer key at the back of the Smartboard lesson.  The page numbers refer to what page you want the students to re-read to be able to write what needs to go in that particular box of the flow map. Finally, you will want to copy enough writing paper Horizontal Writing Paper.pdf for your students so they can write their good copies for the written portion of their dioramas.

I've written this as a one day lesson but you may want to break the lesson up over two days.  My suggestion is to have students sequence the story on their flow map on day one.  Then, on day two, students can copy their writing from their flow map onto their good writing paper for the written part of their dioramas.

Introduction and Reading/Discussing the Story

25 minutes

I am always joking around with my students.  At the start of this lesson I shook my head sadly and said, "We have to read a story this week and then we are going to do the most boring activity imaginable." The students all started shaking their heads and saying "No, no" and giggling.  Then I said, "O.K you got me.  We actually are going to do something fun.  This week our comprehension skill is sequencing.  When we sequence we tell the events in the story in the correct order.  We use clue words such as first, next, then, and last when we retell the events. The reason why we learn to sequence is so we can understand the story better. Today we are going to read a Max and Ruby story called "A Big Fish for Max" and then we are going to sequence the events from the beginning, middle, and end of the story using a flow map."

My students love to use Thinking Maps. They have also seen cartoons and read books about Max and Ruby so they were excited to get started.  When they heard we were going to use a flow map, they started cheering.  We all took our basals and sat on the floor together in a group.  We read the story together and I asked the comprehension questions from my teacher's edition.  I wanted to make sure the students understood the story and the textbook company already did the work for me when thinking up the comprehension questions.

Of course, you can make up your own text dependent questions that make sense to you if you have the picture book "A Big Fish for Max" but not the teacher's edition for the basal reader.  To do so, I would recommend that, as you preview the text, you keep in mind to ask questions where the students will have to go back and think about the words in the text in order to ask the questions.  I've included this resource, Prompts for Text Dependent Questions, to help you create text dependent questions about the story.

It took us a good 25 minutes to read and discuss the story, so also make sure you take your time. 

Sequencing the Story With the Flow Map

50 minutes

I had my Smartboard lesson posted with my flow maps ready to go.  I passed out the flow maps for the students. 

I said, "Look at the rectangle at the top of your page.  We are going to tell our audience, or the people reading our paper about what section of the story we are talking about as well as the characters and the setting.  Look at page 22 in your book.  What part of the story is this?  That's right.  It's the beginning of the story.  What characters do we see on pages 22-23?  That's right.  Max, Ruby, and Grandma.  What is the setting? That's right.  They're at home.  How can we put all these ideas into a sentence.  That's right.  In the beginning of the story Max, Ruby and Grandma are at home. "  I wrote the stem " In the beginning of the story _______________" on the board.  I told my students to finish writing the sentence in their own words as long as they mention the characters and setting.  My reason for doing this is to allow my students the freedom to write without having to depend on me all the time.  I want them to see they are their own creators of content.  They don't need to depend on the teacher to write. 

I directed them to the first box on the flow map.  I said, "Let's notice that this box is marked first.  We have to go back into the story and find out what happens first.  Read page 22 silently to yourself." After they read I said, "Who can tell me what happened first?  That's right.  Grandma is reading a story about a fish and Max says he wants a fish.  I want you to write in your own words what happens on pg 22 in this first box.  Go." Again, I pointed to what box that they had to write in and let them write in their own words.  I don't want them to be dependent on me to generate their own sentences.  I think that promotes learned helplessness.  I did circulate around the room and offered support to my strugglers.  What I thought was funny was that one of my students was trying to show his paper to another to help her.  She just stuck her hand up to him like "talk to the hand, man."  She wanted none of his help.  Talk about being motivated!

I then pointed to the next box on the flow map.  I said, "Notice that this box says 'Next.'  Let's look at page 23.  Read it quietly to yourself." After they had read I said, "What did happen next?  That's right.  Ruby said they could walk to the park and Max could get a fish.  Write this in your own words in the 'Next' box."  I circulated around, helping students if needed. If the students did write something incorrectly I didn't say that it wasn't right.  I told them to go back and read that page.  Then I would ask questions that would get them to tell me the correct answer so that they could revise their thinking.

We continued on in this manner to finish the rest of the flow map.  If I scripted everything this section would be LONG!!! So what I've done for you is to make an answer key at the back of the Smartboard lesson.  I've also put page numbers for you to refer to so you can tell the students what page to read to help them write their answer. Writing the flow map for all three sections of the story will take you a good 50 minutes or so but this is such a good activity to have them go and look for evidence in the story.  That's what we have to get students to start doing, and there's no time like the present!

Writing Our Good Copies

35 minutes

It was time to make our good written copies.  We labeled each page of our flow maps with B for beginning, M for middle and E for ending when we were writing yesterday.  I made sure everyone was on the B page because let's face it they're 6 and don't always pay attention to detail.   I had my model of the flow map up on my Smartboard.  I said, "O.K everyone.  Today we are going to take our ideas from our flow map and turn it into an awesome piece of writing.  We were already very careful about writing to our audience, or the people reading our project when we take it home, so your audience should know exactly what happened in our story."

"Let's label our boxes on our flow map so you will know the exact order in which to copy them.  Oh my gosh I made a connection.  We are sequencing the boxes on our flow map! " Point at the large rectangle at the top of the page.  Write a big 1 on the right side of the box.  Now go down to this box marked First.  Label this box 2.  Label the box marked Next 3.  Label the box marked Then with a 4.  Label the box marked Last with a 5." As I was speaking I was marking the boxes on the Smartboard.

Before I let them start writing I pointed out 1 important piece of information.  I said, "Look at the transition words above each of the boxes.  You need to make sure you write that transition word first and then copy the rest of the box.  I can't stress that enough.  If you don't write your transition words then you aren't really sequencing and your audience is going to be confused when they read your work."  

I walked around the room making sure the students were copying their boxes correctly and making sure they also wrote those transition words first. After we wrote, we glued the writing paper to the mounting paper. 

We repeated the process for both the middle and end of the story.


5 minutes

We did something fun for our closure today.  I took a little bean bag koosh ball.  I tossed it to a student and asked, "What was our comprehension skill today?"  If they couldn't answer the question they had to toss it to someone who thought they could.  I kept asking questions and the kids tossed the ball to someone who thought they could answer the question.  Here are the questions I asked:

  • Why do we sequence in a story?
  • What happened first in the beginning of the story?
  • Let's think about the middle of the story.  What happened after Max caught the black boat?
  • Let's think about the end of the story? What happened at the very end of the story?

You really can pull out any question in your closure.  The koosh ball toss is also a quick way to assess what the students retained from the lesson.

Extension Activity

The extension part of the lesson is the art portion and putting together the dioramas.  This part needs to be done in order to finish the project, however the art portion doesn't actually address the standards.  In this section I show you how to prepare the dioramas How to Prepare the Paper for Student Dioramas, and I also have the clipart Max and Ruby Clipart of Max and Ruby so you can copy these pictures for your students.  I've also included two videos that show my students working on their dioramas Explaining Dioramas - Max and Ruby.mp4  and then summing up the lesson for us Sequencing Our Stories Using Our Flow Maps - Max and Ruby.mp4.  These videos will give you an idea of what the final product should look like.