Bad News!

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SWBAT ask and answer questions to understand key details about how characters respond to a challenging event.

Big Idea

Wilbur has a new friend, is in good health, and even has gain much weigh. Life is good ... until he learns about the conspiracy to be turned into smoked bacon and ham for Christmas. He goes over the edge.


12 minutes

Context and Overview

Before reading the next chapter of Charlotte's Web, "Bad News," I am taking the time to review what has happened so far in the story using a graphic organizer to chart the details we know. Why? My students need a visual to use as a reference to help them ground them of how the story is progressing. Also, before we move on, it is important to keep in mind the key details of the story: who the characters are, the settings, and the events that have occurred so far.

Then, we will read the chapter. I will ask them to make predictions about what might happen before we read. I will make sure we confirm the predictions when we read the text.

After reading, the students will gather information on how the characters responded. Students will write about the responses of the character given the bad news.

On the rug,

After sharing the objective, I will walk students in reviewing the key details of the story. To help them with this process, I have created a large graphic organizer on white construction paper.

I have drawn a picture of a barn and have divided it into three sections. The first section will list the characters, the next one, the settings, and the bottom part with events.

First, I will ask about the characters we have met. I will ask them to pair-share, and then have a few share out. I will transcribe their information on the chart. I will follow the same procedure with the last two sections.

Then, we add the settings and the events of the story up to this point of the story:

Predictions: What Are Bad News?

10 minutes

Now, my students will make predictions about what they think the bad news is about. I haven't done this exercise with all the chapters, and I wouldn't because it will dull the reading experience. But I do feel the content of this chapter, and the title, warrants going through this process. 

To help my students make predictions, I offer them a chart with linguistic sentence frames. The chart gives them a few choices of how they may write their predictions.

In making their predictions, I ask them to think about what they know about the story so far so that they can make a reasonable prediction. In this case, I hope they can be reasonable about the bad news may be.

In addition to writing their prediction, I have my students share their predictions with each other and then with the class. In this way, I am holding them accountable for their responses and I will have them confirm their predictions after reading the chapter.

Here are some of their predictions:

My Prediction Is

Sharing The Predictions

Reading Bad News with Text Dependent Questions

20 minutes

In reading this short but crucial chapter, "Bad News," I am asking a couple of text dependent questions. My focus is about how Wilbur, Charlotte and the oldest Sheep are responding to the terrible news.

To make sure we all understand what the bad news is, I ask:

1. What is the bad news? (When we get to that point.)

Other questions I am asking:

2. How is Wilbur feeling about Charlotte?

3. How is Charlotte feeling about Wilbur?

(I seek to establish the relationship that is blossoming between them.)

4. Who delivers the bad news?

5. Why Is The Old Sheep Visiting Wilbur?

6. Why does he know this be to true?

7. How does Charlotte help Wilbur to feel better at least for the moment?

Confirming Predictions

5 minutes

Now that we have read the chapter, it is time to Confirm their predictions. I take the time to do this because I feel it important for them to understand what really happened. It gives them a moment to evaluate their predictions. It gives the class an idea to get on track with what actually is happening in the plot if their predictions are not relevant.

To confirm their predictions I ask students to write a sentence that explains what actually happens. My students need much practice with explaining. This is another opportunity to practice this skill.




Socratic Seminar

10 minutes

In this Socatic Seminar, I am asking a couple of questions.

1. What is the major event?

2. How does Wilbur respond to the bad news?

3. How does Charlotte respond to the bad news?

4. How does the oldest sheep resound too?

Here is part of our discussion:

Providing Evidence From Text

Before proceeding, we will review the rules for participation and discussion. 

To discuss these questions I have taught my students a procedure of Handing-Off. I start the discussion by posing the question but also by calling on one of the students who is raising their hand. I say, "I hand off to _____." This gets us going. We continue until I feel we have exhausted the question. Since there are three questions to answer today, I make sure to give equal discussion time for all three questions. We review the rules too.

I have also attached a document that goes into more details of how I implement the process of Socratic Seminar in my classroom.

Gathering Information On How Characters Responded

20 minutes

I have created a template for the students to gather evidence of how the characters: Wilbur, the oldest sheep and Charlotte are responding to the bad news.

I have them look at what the characters are saying and doing. For them to be able to do this, they will need to reread parts of the chapter.

I also meet with a small group of my students who need additional support in finding evidence. Some will need this help, some won't. You'll need to decide if some of your students will need additional help.

Here ares some examples of their work:


2Character's Response

3Character's Response

4Character's Response


Independent Writing

20 minutes

Now students will take the evidence they gathered and write a paragraph about how the characters responded. I am looking for them to use the evidence they collected. I am looking for them to use complete sentences. I am looking for them to explain their reasoning.

I am supplying support by writing the question on the board. I am providing encouragement for some. I helping some of them by giving them spelling support.

A couple of my students will need to come and sit with me on the round table so that I can give them more attention.

Here are some of their writing samples:

Simple Response Great Image

The Sheep Is Honest

The Sheep Is Mean

They Responded In Different Ways

Why Wilbur Doesn't Want To Die

Wilbur Is Sad