Looking at the Setting

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SWBAT describe why the setting is important to the story

Big Idea

Your students will take a closer look at why the setting is influential in this story.


Right now as I prepare this lesson I am still directed by the district pacing guide, which, unfortunately, is not common core aligned.  My challenge: make the lesson common core aligned.  I almost feel I should have a self destructing tape recorder that seriously instructs me with:

"Good morning, Ms. Collins. Your mission, Sarah, should you choose to accept it, is to take what you have at hand and create a lesson that will further prepare your students to become worthy college and career competitors. As always should any member of your IMF force be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck Sarah."  Back to reality here, this week I am continuing working with Lost! by David McPhail, where my main focus is to describe characters, settings, and major events in a story using key details.  As my students and I explore and describe each section of the grade level standard we will be moving closer to being able to analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Common Core Connection:

In the previous lesson I had my students focus their attention on the characters.  In this lesson we will focus on the setting of the story.  Lost! is a great resource for describing the setting because students will have the opportunity to compare and contrast the city and the forest.  We will be using the text and the illustrations to find key details and use them to describe the setting in this lesson. In this way, we will be deepening our comprehension of the story and practicing skills that support mastery of RL.1.3.

Lesson Overview:

After re-reading Lost! by David McPhail, my students will have time to closely examine the pictures in the story.  When they are finished looking at the pictures they will form groups of three and review a set of downloaded picture cards.  They will be given time to discuss the pictures and choose three picture cards that can also be used to describe the setting of the story and how the picture is important to the story.


Houghton Mifflin Reading Theme 7: We Can Work it Out, Lost!, by David McPhail

Picture cards (teacher created) one set per group

9 x 12 construction paper for displaying pictures, 1 per group


5 minutes

We began this lesson on the rug where I had my students retell the story Lost! from the beginning, middle, and end.  Even though we are focusing on the setting in this lesson, I felt it important for my students to practice and be aware of the story sequence.  I then reminded my students that the day before we looked at some of the physical and character traits of the boy and the bear, and told them today they would look at the setting of the story.

Once we finished this review I had my students stretch and move to their seats like ‘gruff, growly bears’.  It goes without saying, stretching just feels good after sitting for a while.  I like to include a movement associated with the topic, in this case bears, because I feel it promotes student engagement and helps students learn new vocabulary.  It also gives students a chance to be creative.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

Once settled in their seats with their anthologies opened, I reminded my students today’s focus would be on the setting.  To check for understanding I gave my students a moment to think about what the setting in a story is and used the magic cup to select a student to tell the class.  The answer I was looking for was the setting is the time and place of the story.

Once satisfied my students knew what the setting was, my students’ partner read Lost! by David McPhail. When my students finished reading I used the magic cup to select a partner pair to tell the class what the setting of this story is.  The answer I was looking for was: the setting is in the city during the late morning to early evening.  The rest of the class showed me they agreed by showing a thumb up.  

When the partner pair were finished sharing I instructed the class to think about the text and posed the question: How well does the text do at describing the setting?  At first this questioned confused my students, so I re-stated it by asking: How do you know the setting is in a city and it is in the afternoon?  This question led my students where I wanted them to go, which was they knew mostly from looking at the pictures.  Once I got that answer I gave my students think and partner share time to think about and answer the next question I asked: What do the pictures tell you about the setting?  When my students were finished partner sharing I used the magic cup to select three partner pairs to answer that question.  The answers I was looking for included: the pictures showed what the bear was talking about; showed what the city, park, and woods looked like; etc.

At this point I agreed they had some good answers and instructed them to take a moment to look quietly at the pictures in this story and think about why they are important to the characters or events in the story.

Collaborative Activity

15 minutes

After a short two minutes I displayed the picture cards on the Promethean board and gave my students instructions.  I said, "After you form groups of three, you will be given a set of picture cards.  As a group, study each card and decide which three best match different settings in the story Lost!, and tell why the picture was important to the characters or events in the story. Once you all agree which three pictures you will use, you can color and cut the pictures out and glue them to construction paper to make a poster.  You will share their posters once all the groups are finished."

To check for understanding I used the magic cup to select a student to summarize the directions to the class.  Once I was satisfied that my little ones understood what they were going to do, I directed them to form their groups.

As each group got started I circled around the room to make sure they were working together and understood the directions.  I also passed out scissors, glue, crayons, and construction paper as the groups were ready for them.

One thing to keep in mind: originally I allotted 15 to 20 minutes for the collaborative activity in this lesson, however, it took longer, and groups finished at really different times. 

As each group finished their project and cleaned up their area, I called them to the rug area to share their work with the class.  I am finding that students really do enjoy sharing their work.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

Once all groups made their presentations we moved into our differentiated reading group rotation.  During this time my students are in leveled reading groups and rotate through work stations.  Journal writing is one of those stations where my students are to write about what they did or learned in the collaborative group.  

When I check their journals not only am I checking for completeness, understanding, spelling and conventions, but I am looking for crossover from the writing skills we are learning during our writing block.  For example this week in our writing block we have been learning about starting with a 'hook'.  I do not tell my students to start their journals with a hook statement, but I do remind them that is what we are practicing during our writing block.

Today's prompt: Write about the three pictures your group chose and why the picture was important to the story.


Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

To earn a sticker each group had to choose one picture they did not use and tell me why it did not work for the story.