Who Is Charlotte?

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SWBAT ask and answer questions to understand key details about spiders using informational and literary text.

Big Idea

Spiders play a very important role in our lives. Just ask Charlotte. If she wasn't so bloodthirsty, our earth would be covered with bugs and then what would be of us? The horror! (thank goodness - it's Charlotte to the rescue!)


10 minutes

Context and Overview

One of the shifts with the CCSS is about providing students with a balance of informational and literary text. The goal is to build students’ content knowledge through text. That is what I am doing today with the video on spiders and then reading Chapter V: Charlotte of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. In providing content knowledge of spiders before reading the chapter, I intend to bring attention to what the author needed to know in order to write this book because E.B. White combines much factual information within this story.

I will be discussing this question during Socratic Seminar so that my students are becoming aware of the structure of the text too as we discuss who Charlotte is.

My students will then be able to reflect in writing what they have learned from both the video and the chapter book. 

On the rug:

After sharing the objective, I am engaging my students in a think-pair-share task. The question  for them to communicate with each other is, what are spiders? After students share with each other, I transcribe their responses on a circle map. In this way, I am validating their knowledge and showing them how we build on our knowledge because I make the point to come back at the end of the lesson and ask them, "what else have they learned about spiders?"

In addition, I am asking them, what questions they have about spiders? I create a chart of their questions.

Video: Spiders (Discovery Channel)

20 minutes

To make this an interactive task, and to incorporate listening, speaking, reading, and writing, I have created a template, All About Spiders, with text dependent questions that my students answer as they watch the youtube video.

I have taught my students how to take notes, and this is another opportunity to practice. Students thrive on routines, and, while this is a routine I keep coming back to it. The different topics we discuss keep the routine fresh.

Here are some examples of their note-taking:





Here is the link to the video titled, Spiders (Discovery Channel)


Brain Break

2 minutes

Given how my students are doing I make the decision to interject a brain break. For today's brain break I have my students stand up behind their chairs for some deep breathing and some arm movement. I make sure to keep this time to two minutes: short and sweet. It helps the students to get reenergized and be ready for the next task.

Reading Chapter V: Charlotte

25 minutes

In reading the chapter "Charlotte," I am asking some text dependent questions on pages 37-39. These are the pages where Wilbur meets Charlotte. Here Wilbur learns about Charlotte's spider traits, which is my focus for today. With the rest of the chapter, I am only stopping to answer students' questions about anything that comes up for them such as unfamiliar vocabulary words or if they find something confusing about the plot.

It is not necessary to ask a ton of questions as one reads a chapter for students to understand the gist of it. It is important to keep the flow of the story moving and address any areas that can be potentially confusing by slowing down and asking questions.

Here are my Text Dependent Questions for pages 37-39:

1. Who is Charlotte?

2. What does Charlotte do with the fly caught in her web?

3. How does Wilbur respond to what he sees Charlotte do?

4. What animals does Charlotte eat?

5. What is it that Charlotte does to the insects?

6. What does Charlotte help Wilbur understand about catching insects? 

At the end of reading this chapter, I asked my students to make a list of words to demonstrate what they learned about Charlotte, to get a quick snap-shot. I am looking for them to use words that describe as her physically and her character. Here are some of their lists:

Descriptive Words About Charlotte

List of Who Charlotte Is

This Is Charlotte

What Charlotte Does

Who Is Charlotte?

Writing About Charlotte

Socratic Seminar: Who Is Charlotte

10 minutes

For Socratic Seminar, we are discussing two questions:

1. What does the author need to know about spiders to write this story?

2. Who is Charlotte?

Here is part of our discussion:

Charlotte is A Spider

Before beginning the discussion, I review the Rules of participation and the process of Handing-Off. In handing-off, the students practice how to hold the floor and then share the floor when they are done talking. When they are ready they simply state, "I hand off to _____." Then, the other student can share.

I am attaching a document that gives more detailed information on how I implement process of Socratic Seminar in my classroom.

Writing About Spiders

20 minutes

Now that we have had the opportunity to read and discuss key details about spiders, students get the opportunity to write about it. I asked my students to write what they learned about spiders. I didn't write it on the white board because they were fine with oral instructions.

I am looking for students to use the vocabulary words they are learning about spiders. I am looking for them to use both sources and to use the stems:

According to the video...

According to the book...

I am giving them support by reminding them to use the stems. I am giving them support with spelling words, reading any words they may find difficult, and encouraging them.

Here are some of their writing entries:

Spiders Are Amazing Creatures

Spiders Eat Crickets

There Are Many Facts About Spiders

What He Learned About Spiders

What Was Learned About Spiders

Whole Group Sharing

7 minutes

I like to give my students various opportunities to develop their oral language. In sharing their learning they are practicing the academic language and working on building their self-esteem as well.

During their writing time, I make sure to read their entries and make mental notes on who gets to share. I feel it is important to model the writing of those who are meeting the task. 

Here are the speakers for this lesson:

What She Learned About Spiders

What She Learned About Spiders 1

What He Learned

What she Learned 2

After the speakers share, they receive feedback. This is the system I use:

•Two Stars: Two different students share what they specifically like about the content of the writing.

•A Wish: Another student shares specifically how they think the writing can be improved.