Who is Wilbur?

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SWBAT ask and answer questions about a character in a literary text.

Big Idea

We get to know Wilbur through Fern, his caretaker.


5 minutes

Context and Lesson Overview

Today, I am reading the second chapter of Charlotte's Web, entitled "Wilbur." In reading this book, I am helping my students navigate a chapter book. My students are getting exposure to complex text. 

When I read this chapter, I will spend time asking text dependent questions. I am asking a few questions because I want to engage the students in what the text is stating about Wilbur. My questions also make clear the bond between Wilbur and Fern. (see next section for specific questions)

Once we are done reading, I will engage the students in answering, how does the author describe Wilbur? They will create a bubble map to gather their information. In order to create this bubble map, they will need to reread the chapter. In this reading, I am reminding them to be strategic about how to read to answer the question. I am reminding them that they are looking for evidence.

Afterwards, I will gather the students on the rug to discuss what we have learned about Wilbur.

Then, I will give my students the opportunity to write about Wilbur. 

Opening Activity

I will start by sharing the student friendly objective: I can ask and answer questions about a character.

I ask the students to think about what they read in chapter 1. I have them share with each other and then we review out loud  together. I do this because I want to make sure they are keeping in mind what has happened and how the story is progressing.

Reading Chapter II: Wilbur with text dependent questions

25 minutes

Now, I get my students ready to read the chapter. To maintain a steady flow, I will do most of the reading. I will stop and ask text dependent questions to help my students understand the key details of the chapter. In reading, I will interject a cloze reading technique. With this technique, as I read the sentences, my students will read the word I leave out. They read the word chorally. It is my way to keep the students engaged.

As I read, I walk around the room, rather than stay in one place. In this way, I keep an eye on those students who may have difficulty following or who need assistance.  Also, in moving around the room as I read, I make sure everyone hears me. And, in moving around as students answer the text dependent questions, I can hear them better too:

How Does Fern Show Her Love For Wilbur?

Someone notices the book is titled, Charlotte's Web, but there is no Charlotte yet, and thus their question, 

Where Is Charlotte?

Bubble Map: How does the author describe Wilbur?

20 minutes

Now, I give directions for students to create a bubble map. Instead of creating a regular looking bubble map, I am taking a minute and drawing a pig with them. This short drawing activity can be bypassed. But, I am drawing it with them to make the lesson interactive and fun. I offer a drawing on the white board as a way to scaffold the learning.

Around the pig, the students will write the descriptors about Wilbur. They need to look for evidence about how the author describes Wilbur. Part of the shift with the CCSS is help students value evidence. This is one way I help build this skill. In order to accomplish the task, they will need to go back into the text and reread purposely.

Here are some of their bubble maps:

A Different Way To Gather Evidence About Wilbur

Good Job With Bubble Map

My Bubble Map

Using Sentences with Bubble Map

Another Bubble Map

Sharing Our Findings About Wilbur

10 minutes

On the rug we are sharing our findings about Wilbur. I have brought the chart we created about Wilbur. 

Socratic Seminar is about discussing ideas. It is about listening to ones' peers with respect. I have taught my students the Handing-off technique. That means once someone is done sharing, they let someone else share by stating, "I hand off to..."

I make sure to review the rules for participation. I incorporate this practice because I want to give my students plenty of opportunities to have academic discussions so that they can build confidence about what they know and know how to participate in such discussions. Additionally, I am attaching a document that fully details how I implement the process of Socratic Seminar in my classroom.

The questions for discussions are:

1. What did we learn about Wilbur?

2. How Does The Author Describe Wilbur? Why?

I like to ask both explicit and implicit questions. My students need practice with both.

Writing Independently

15 minutes

Students will now take the information they gathered on their bubble map and write a descriptive paragraph about Wilbur.

While my students can use transition words very well, they are still learning how to write introductory sentences and closing sentences. To give them support, I have provided for them a couple of introductory examples of them to choose. They are free to choose their own introductory sentence. 

To write their closing sentence, I will give ask them to read me the paragraph and reread it again by themselves to help them sum up their paragraph. I believe the rereading is very helpful is helping them create a closing sentence. They will need to come back to show me their closing sentence. I will provide assistance as needed.

The integration of the reading, creating the bubble map/discussion, and writing the paragraph helped my students understand the concept of runt, and how it played a role in the decision Fern's father made about doing away with him. I was pleased the word runt came up as a descriptor, in our discussion, as well as other details: Wilbur loving Fern, Wilbur loving the oozy sticky mud, and his love for warm milk.

I feel my students walked away with a good understanding of Wilbur so far in the story. Here are some examples of their paragraphs:

Good Job Describing Wilbur

Good Evidence to Support Description About Wilbur

Yes, Wilbur Is A Spring Pig