Prelude to Listen To and Follow Directions: Day 1

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SWBAT compare two characters from two similar themed readings and identify their shared traits on a VENN diagram.

Big Idea

In this two day lesson your students will practice following specific directions by doing a project after they compare the character traits of two characters from two similar themed texts.


Depending on whom you talk to, Common Core either allows for student creativity through drama, art, and music or it stifles the creativity of children.  It is true that the premise for teaching the standards are through informational and literary texts; however there is a lot of room for students to embellish their creativity.  By continuing to focus on SL.1.1: participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups, and RL.1.9: compare and contrast the adventures and experience of characters in stories, I will meet the requirements for Common Core and give my students an opportunity to express themselves while demonstrating they mastered SL.1.2.

Lesson Overview:

On the first day of this lesson I will read Ben Franklin and His First Kite to my students, and they will work with their partner to compare the character traits of Ben, from today’s reading, and the Mom from The Kite.  On the second day of this lesson my students will create a project based on the listening skills they have practiced this week.


  • Houghton Mifflin Reading Theme 5: Let’s Look Around, The Kite by Alma Flor Ada
  • Ben Franklin and His First Kite, by Stephan Krensky
  • Venn Diagram (Florida Center for Reading Research:


5 minutes

As my students sat on the rug I reminded them that not only were we reading and learning about the characters in The Kite, we were also practicing our speaking and listening skills. Reminding them that during yesterday’s lesson they worked together by listening to each other to finish the activity.  I continued by telling them today they would do almost the same thing, except they would listen to a story about a real person named Ben Franklin, and they would compare his character traits to the traits of the Mom in The Kite.  This is a long lesson, I told them, and we would finish it tomorrow where they would use some of the character traits from Ben and the Mom to finish a project.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

This brought on cheers of excitement, to help restore order I had my students clap ‘do as I do’ with me (Demonstration: Do As I Do). Once settled I had my students think about the story The Kite and asked for volunteers to share with the class what were some of the Mom’s character traits.  As my students related she was smart, did not give up, liked to be outside, and liked animals, I asked them how they knew all this about the Mom.  They replied from reading the story, and some of them stated she was the character they worked with in yesterday’s lesson.  I showed them I agreed by showing them a thumb up.

I then asked if anyone knew who was or had heard of Benjamin Franklin.  Being in first grade none of my students ever heard of him, so I took a brief moment to tell my students a little bit about Benjamin Franklin.  Basically he lived a long time ago when the United States was part of England, he was an inventor, a Representative to England and France, and signed the Declaration of Independence- something we had discussed earlier in the year.  When finished I told my students to listen to the story I was about to read and instructed them to listen for ways Ben was the same as the Mom in The Kite.

Before I read I did explain what the words wicks, harbor, and millpond meant. I did this because I knew these were new words for my students and this was basically a onetime read.  With more time, I would have liked to have had students try to discover the meaning of these words from the text, but, alas, we had a lot to do! As I read the text Ben Franklin and His First Kite, I showed my students the pictures and read the text with no further stops. Sometimes the joy of getting to read a story straight through can be worth the while even if you can't stop and look at new vocabulary. It's a balance, right?

When I finished reading I gave my students a moment to think about what were some of Ben Franklin’s character traits, reminding them that we can identify traits by thinking about how he acted or felt.  I then told them to whisper three character traits of Ben in their hands, when they were finished I told them they would work in pairs to finish a VENN diagram that compared Ben from today’s story to the Mom from The Kite.  After this explanation I had my students whisper the three things they whispered in their hands to me (Demonstration: Whisper to Me), telling them these were the things they were to write on their VENN diagrams.

Collaborative Activity

20 minutes

I then had my students stand up and pretend they were flying a kite as they walked to their seats.  By adding a movement to transitions is one way to incorporate student creativity and imagination into a lesson.

When they were at their seats I instructed them to take out their pencils and look at who they wanted to work with.  Then I told them to stand up and walk to that person.  They were to sit at the desk of whichever partner they were closest to.

Once in their seats I displayed the VENN diagram on the Promethean board, even though my students had worked before with this graphic organizer, I still explained that on the left side they were to list only traits about the Mom from The Kite, on the right side they were to list traits about Ben Franklin.  The middle section was for listing traits that they shared. 

To check for understanding I pointed to each section of the VENN diagram and used the magic cup (Demonstration: Magic Cup) to select students to tell the class what that section was used for.  The rest of the class showed me they agreed by showing me a thumb up (Demonstration: Thumb Up, Thumb Down.). 

In the event my students give an incorrect response, I look to see what their classmates are showing- thumb up or down, then say something similar to your classmates disagree.  Then I call on another student to help give the correct response.  If my students are still unclear I retell them the correct response.

I then passed out their copies of the Venn Diagram.  However, before they started working I choose two students to model what should look like when they are talking and listening to each while they are working.  To do this I had them pretend to ask each other a question about the Mom or Ben, and pretend to listen and using words such as, I agree.

As noted, a few students had worked with the Mom character in the previous lesson.  To help them get started I told my students to think only about the Mom and what type of person was she.  As my students started calling out answers I told them to write them down under the Mom section.  I also told them they could use their books if needed.  The section about only Ben was a little more difficult for all my students.  I had only read this text one time, and even though it is geared toward young readers it has a lot of new and unfamiliar information.  As my students struggled through the only Ben section, I helped my students by asking questions similar to:

  • ‘Was Ben young or old’?
  • ‘What did Ben do well’?
  • ‘What did Ben have that the Mom did not have’?

(I got the idea for asking these types of questions from walking around and looking at my student work.  After seeing the Mom character traits, I asked opposite type questions about Ben)  From the Student 1 and Student 2 work samples it can be seen that these children were on the right track, comparing only the Mom and Ben.  Their phonemic spelling is improving in that it is easier to read.  Student 3 has neat work, however, this student compared the two texts, not the characters.  His defense he did not hear that part of the directions and his partner did not tell him.  In cases like this, I would agree he did a good job comparing the stories, however, in the future I will make sure that he is selected to re-state the directions for the class when I check for understanding.

As my students finished filling out the only Ben section, I pulled a small group of students who were having difficulty writing the answers by themselves to work on the both section.  I asked this group of students what was the same about Ben and the Mom?  The response I was hoping for was that neither one of them gave up, they both kept on trying.  My little group of students responded both made kites and they were both smart.  I agreed, and asked, ‘Was it easy to make the kite’?  When this little group responded ‘no’, I posed the question: ‘What is it called when it is not easy, but you keep trying’?  With this question my little group agreed it was called, ‘Don’t give up’!  That’s correct I said, ‘Where would you write that?  The all knew in the middle.

When all my students were finished, I called them all together and used the magic cup to call on students to share with the class some of the character traits of the Mom from The Kite and of Ben from our reading today, as well as some of the traits they shared.  As my students shared I wrote their answers on the Promethean board, and instructed my students to add any new traits to their VENN diagram.

To finish up I pointed out that a lot of the differences between the Mom and Ben were opposites, the Mom was an adult, Ben was a child.  The Mom had children, Ben had friends.  However, they were both smart and did not give up, they kept on trying.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

At that point we went into our differentiated reading group rotation block.  During this time my students are in their leveled reading groups and rotate every 15 to 20 minutes through independent activities, which include working on the computer, HM reading or grammar practice, journal writing, and working with me.  I use journal writing to give my student practice writing independently.  I check their journals when they rotate to my group.

In today’s journal my students used their VENN diagrams to compared the character Ben to the Mom.  For my less independent students the prompt I put on the board:

Ben and the Mom are the same _____.  They are different _____.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

To earn a sticker my students told me how the VENN diagram help them with writing their journal.