"I’ve read something like this before"…Connecting To the Text

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SWBAT connect the key details of similar fables and compare/contrast the theme and central ideas.

Big Idea

The important stories connect with a great moral but... they're not quite the same!



This lesson builds on the previous lesson and continues to work towards helping students distinguish between deep and shallow connections. A big difference with the Common Core in making connections is that connections that students make, whether they are text to text, text to self, or text to world, must shift away from the irrelevant connections that take students out of the text and move towards being steeped in the actual words of the author. Although connecting to outside information, other books, and personal experiences may enrich a students' understanding of a text, such connections are useful only insofar as they help a student understand the text in front of them. As we push students to make connections that are deep, we need to keep helping them understand the difference between deep, text-based connections and distracting, shallow connections. See my other lessons in this unit for ideas on how to help students make deeper connections.

Let's Get Excited !

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Bring Students to A Similar Learning Point

  • Pull up the powerpoint and show only the Tortoise and the Hare pictures. 
  • “Today I brought some pictures of some fables.  Who can tell me what a fable is?”  Take ideas – if there are no ideas, then show some of the slides and then ask again.


Get Student's Engaged

  • (Powerpoint slides 1-2)  “Who has read this book or seen this picture?"
  • Fables like this are really famous old stories that have been passed down from generation to generation and they all have a moral."
  • "Morals are lessons that we have learned through story telling and experience.  We know not to touch a hot stove.  People know to work hard." 
  • "What is the moral for this cat?"


I chose to do fables for this connecting activity because the Core Standards have a distinct focus on learning fables and folktales.  Standard RL.2.2 specifically focuses on the student’s ability to recount fables and folktales from different cultures. I also love to teach fables because the themes are recurrent in stories and movies.  If my students can learn about the The Boy Who Cried Wolf then they will hopefully connect that theme to the common phrase ‘crying wolf’ or to other stories, such as The Dog Who Cried Wolf, by Keiko Kasza

Teachers' Turn

15 minutes

Explain concept:

  • We are connecting to the text today and activating our schema.  Refer to schema chart
  • In the last lesson, we said the connecting helps us understand the story better
  • Today we'll look at another way that helps us connect - we'll connect 2 kinds of text together  Add to 'Kinds of Connecting chart 


Show examples

  • Look at powerpoint slides 4-9
  • "What are these fables?"
  • "Why are there different pictures - yes there are several versions?"  
  • "What do you think the moral, or lesson, of the fable is?”
  • Summarize the Lion and the Mouse  on the whiteboard


Guided Practice

  • "I have 2 versions of a fable you know - we'll work together on the first one."
  • "Let's look at this and then identify the moral and summarize."
  • Play the online story
  • Pause and comment on key ideas (you'll be comparing/contrasting ideas and summaries)
  • Summarize…. (“I don’t tell lots of ideas so I won’t use my fingers for this).  
  • Ask for ideas on the theme and then share it with the kids. 
  • See 'whiteboard example' 

The Students Take A Turn

15 minutes

Explain the task:

  • Show the book
  • "We are going to compare and contrast the summary and theme with a Venn Diagram"   Show powerpoint slide 10
  • 'Venn Diagrams really help us CONNECT because you can see ideas that are similar and different."
  • Use the Venn Diagram on the whiteboard   


The focus on retelling fables (RL.2.2) and identifying a central lesson or moral (RL.2.9) demonstrate the shift of the ELA Common Core State Standards to ‘close reading’  Students are expected to have a broader range of reading knowledge (fables, classic stories, legends) and be able to compare and contrast the stories to demonstrate their understanding of story structure and story elements.


Student work

  • Read the story   The reading level is too high for this version - if you find a second grade version, you could have students read it independently
  • "Write your ideas on the Venn Diagram and a summary of the stories."
  • As they work, walk around and ask students about their work.  Here's a student discussing her thoughts.
  • Check when they're done to see if they can add more details. This is a student sample.
  • When they are done, take student ideas to add to the whiteboard. Here's the completed whiteboard.

Apply It!

10 minutes

Review of work

  •  “Now that we’ve talked about 2 stories, let’s think about the moral of the story.  A moral is something that you’ve learned through an experience." 
  • I want you to EXTEND your learning today.  Take what you know about the fables we've looked at and extend it to something in your life - CONNECT it!!"


Explain the task

  • “You will create an poster about the moral you’ve learned to extend your learning."
  • "Here’s an example of a poster that I made for The Tortoise and The Hare story.  I put the moral across the poster and the I thought of a situation when ‘don’t give up!’ might apply to someone.”  Show the teacher project.


Student start project

  • Take ideas of a moral for the story and write them on the board.  
  • Prompt students to think of how to illustrate the moral - offer these as suggestions for the student project
  • "Write your moral across the bottom of the poster."


Students share ideas

  • Invite some kids to come up and share their ideas.


"You did a great job today connecting to the text.  We looked at the morals of fables that we knew and maybe learned some new ones.  You were able to summarize the fable and tell the moral or lesson learned. Most importantly, you EXTENDED your learning to apply the moral to something from today's time.  You are getting really smart.....!!!!"