Wanted! One Big Bad .... (Lesson 4 of 4)

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SWBAT compare and contrast stories and characters from different versions of the same stories to determine and describe their preference with reasons.

Big Idea

So who was really the 'bad' character - Red or the Wolf?



*This is the final lesson in a series of 4 that compares and contrasts  books around the fairy tale, Red Riding Hood. The previous lessons were Add Some Sense to the Images (Lesson 1 of 4), Red Riding Hood Smelled Like Apples (Lesson 2 of 4) and Images Have A Voice (Lesson 3 of 4).

My students LOVED these books and really enjoyed these lessons. They were familiar with the stories and are now old enough to comprehend the humor and irony in the stories (how the kids let the wolf fall over and over again, how the characters looked like and were named for apples). In this lesson, we are able to formally contrast and compare the stories, although there have been many discussions throughout the previous lessons about which wolf they liked better and which book they thought was better. This unit was fun because the kids could really 'see' where we were going - we put up a new imaging chart each day and I told them that, when we were done, we would would use all 3 charts to compare. They have been looking forward to doing this.

'Imaging' is the term that my district uses for 'visualizing'. In order to stay true to the district expectations, I'll continue to use this verbage. Visualizing is a critical skill for 2nd graders because they need to 'go deeper' in the text. By visualizing as they read, they are creating and tweaking images in their minds as they actively read. This kind of 'close reading', forming images using text, verifying and changing those images, and ultimately comparing their images to the author, creates critical readers and deepens comprehension.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Build the excitement

  • Take a moment to look over all 3 charts and review the books, ideas, and characters.
  • "Can you tell me your favorite version? Use imaging to picture your favorite part in your head and tell me just about that part."  Get ideas from several students.

Teachers' Turn

20 minutes

Review the strategy and set the task

  • "We used a lot of imaging in these lessons - let's look at how it helped us."  Review the imaging poster.
  • "Today we're going to compare and contrast the 3 fables that we've read. We talked a lot about the characters, feeling words, how we used our senses to describe and what happened in the beginning, middle and end of each story." 
  • "We can use all of these images to retell the stories and compare them. I'll add that to 'Imaging/visualizing Strategy' chart:
      • Images help us retell and recall the text.
  • "We are going to use a Venn Diagram with 3 circles (ask them why 3 - because we had 3 stories) to compare and contrast."


A Venn diagram is a tool that I wanted to expose my students to and I chose to support them so that they can use it here. I would not necessarily expect them to grasp how to use effectively on their own. My expectations is that they are able to work as a group to compare the stories, but not be able to use the diagram to mastery, at this point.

Model the strategy 

  • I'm going to think about what was the same or different in the 3 versions of the story." This is our discussion of comparing the stories.
  • "When I look at the feeling words and tone, I see that in two stories, the wolf was mean, so I'll put that here."
  • "If I think about the sense of smell, the wolf smelled pie, but only in the Rotten story. I'll write 'smelled pie' on the post-it and put it here."
  • "Let me look at the events - the beginning, the middle and end  - I see that the wolf went to grandma's house in all 3 books so I'll put that here."


Guided practice

  • "Can you help with me a few more.... what do you notice about his mood.... one story had a wolf with parents so we could write that on the post-it and put it here."
  • "What was the same or different for another story?" 
  • Here's the completed whiteboard.


As we describe how the characters feel and use the senses to add more information to the image, the students recognize the different motivations for the characters and reasons why they acted as they did. The character descriptions gave us LOTS of discussion topics. As you discuss images, you'll ultimately discuss why the wolf, girl and other characters acted as they did. We spent time comparing versions of the stories and they kids really picked up on the ideas of why the girl acted differently in this story. Describing how the character in a story respond to challenges and events (RL.2.3) gives the kids an opportunity to delve deeper into the text and explore the author's purpose in characterization. 

Students Take a Turn

15 minutes

Explain the task:

  • “Now it’s your turn to add some words to our diagram. I’m passing out some post-its for you.  Compare and contrast the stories.  What was the same? What was different? Think about the mood, tone, voice, characters, etc."  
  • Look at your group’s poster and then put the post-its on the board.” This is what it sounded like when I assigned the task
  • As students worked, I walked around and asked them about their choices of where to put the ideas. This is a student explaining his post-it placement.  Another student also explaied his post-it placement 2. 
  • As the they put post-its on the board, this is how it looked as they put up the ideas.


  • After the kids are done, review the ideas and move around as needed. Reflect on how similar and different the stories were.
  • "We talked about the mood and tone. How did the author show the funny parts or when he was serious.  How do you know the mood or tone of a story?  Pictures? Wording?"
  • "Did your images help you remember the stories better? My kids were REALLY introspective about this – they said they did remember better because they had pictures in their minds."


There is a shift in the Common Core ELA Standards toward ‘close reading’ which means reading with purpose. Students who can read and then evaluate the text against similar texts are using critical thinking. Comparing and contrasting versions of the same story (RL.2.9) allows for this evaluation. Using the imaging strategy to form mental pictures is an effective reading strategy because it requires on students to draw on their background knowledge and own abilities to discover answers.

Show What You Know!

20 minutes

Reflect and Share


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

Since students are working in groups reviewing previously discussed information, this lesson should be applicable for students with learning challenges. Mixed groupings would be best, so those who have difficulty reading words or choosing similarities and differences would be able to consult with students who have more ability. If students need help spelling, you could provide that help by writing words on the board.