They are the same?!

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SWBAT identify the central ideas of two books and compare them.

Big Idea

Students will be surprised at how two books that seem completely different can have the same central idea. You'll be surprised at the depth of their analysis.


3 minutes

As I began implementing CCSS it was clear that I would have to get my students to analyze books with more rigor and guide them towards a deeper understanding of text than in previous years. I would also have to get them used to making connections between more than one text and to referencing evidence from the text.

The week I taught this lesson, my students had read the story "The Kite" from Frog and Toad and a non-fiction selection on the Wright Brothers. Frog and Toad stories are always charming and a hit with first graders, and this class was also thrilled with the Wright brothers and their first attempts at flight. I had a very hard time resisting spending a lot of time with extension activities, such as making decorating and experimenting with kites and planes. This lesson can be adapted to any two selections, but I recommend using a narrative and an expository piece because they will stretch students' critical thinking skills.

Today, my students had to determine the main idea and central theme of both selections (RL.1.2 and RI.1.2) and to compare and contrast their characters and events.

To begin, I shared the objective with students. Then I had some students read (and re-read) the stories independently, others read them with a partner, and my lowest group met with me to read them with support (RL.1.10 and RI.1.10).

Guided practice

5 minutes

I told my class that we were going to examine both stories and look for similarities and differences. I reminded them that they could re-read, look at the pictures and captions to remind themselves of the events, or have a whispered conversation about them with their neighbor.

I circulated asking pointed questions such as:

  • How would you describe Frog, Toad, the Wright Brothers?
  • What was the main idea?
  • What was the problem?
  • How did they solve it?
  • Who solved it?

Independent Practice

20 minutes

I told my students that they needed to decide if Frog and Toad were similar to the Wright brothers. First, to help them organize their thoughts, they had to compare and contrast them in a Venn Diagram (the clip shows you how they can make their own).

Then they had to answer the prompt: Frog and Toad are like the Wright brothers because ...


5 minutes

I had a few students from different levels share their response to the prompt for the whole class. I gave students the opportunity to offer compliments and (constructive) critiques.