Teaching about Story Conflict

Whether students know it or not, chances are good that they already have a basic understanding of story conflict. After all, you can't accurately discuss a book's plot without describing the conflict happening within a book. However, naming the various types of conflict might be new to your students. Today I'm going to share some ideas with you for teaching your students about the types of conflicts in literature. (Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links are included in this blog post.)


Let's begin with an anchor chart! I am a huge fan of anchor charts, so I created a conflict anchor chart that you can share with your students. As you can see, I color-coded it to help students focus on the fact that three of the conflicts are external, and only one type is internal. Also, I chose to use the image of the angry girl to stress that conflicts in stories are rather unpleasant, especially at the point at which the conflict is revealed. Interestingly, my daughters (a 7th grader and a 5th grader) watched me design parts of this anchor chart, and they both asked me (at different times) why I used the image of a girl who was angry. I explained my thought process, but they both told me that they didn't care for my image choice. I'd be curious to know... what's your opinion on the image? If nothing else, one benefit is that it ignited a great discussion about story conflict that we wouldn't have otherwise had.

Types of Conflict Anchor Chart
Would you like to replicate this anchor chart? Grab the image for free at Chirp Graphic's TpT store!


Analyzing published books and identifying each book's primary conflict is essential for students learning about literary conflict. Therefore, I sat down and compiled a few examples of books that can be matched to each type of conflict. (Keep in mind, however, that some of these books have more than one type of conflict within its overall plot.) The images below show my suggestions for each type of conflict.

Person vs. Person Book Examples- This blog post contains a conflict anchor chart, as well!
  • The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies- Siblings Evan and Jessie begin a lemonade stand war, both vowing to earn more money than the other.
  • Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk- Annabelle's life is pretty quiet until Betty Glengarry moves into town. At first, Betty only bullies Annabelle, but soon Betty targets a World War I veteran, as well. When Annabelle sees how Betty treats Toby, she can't remain silent any longer.
  • Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein- Kyle Keely is racing to win Mr. Lemoncello's game. In order to win, though, he must beat his conniving archnemesis, Charles Chillington.

Person vs. Nature Book Examples- This blog post contains a conflict anchor chart, as well!
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen- Brian Robeson finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness after he is the lone survivor following a plane crash. He must figure out a way to survive until help arrives.
  • Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina by Rodman Philbrick- Zane is visiting relatives in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hits. He is separated from his family, but meets a young girl and an elderly musician. The three work together to survive the disaster.
  • Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman- Dan and his friend Arthur must first survive the tornado ripping their town into shreds, and afterward they must make their way through the rubble to find their family members.

Person vs. Self Book Examples- This blog post contains a conflict anchor chart, as well!
  • Ida B by Katherine Hannigan- When Ida's mom is diagnosed with cancer, she is no longer able to homeschool Ida, and Ida has to start attending "mind-numbing" school. Ida feeling betrayed as she struggles to accept the changes happening in her life. 
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt- Ally is good at math and art, but she has always struggled with reading. She behaves negatively at times to mask her reading difficulty. Things start to finally turn around for Ally when she meets a supportive teacher along with two classmates who have some struggles of their own.
  • The Only Game by Mike Lupica- Jack is the best pitcher on his 7th grade baseball team. However, he quits after the first practice of the season. He blames himself for an earlier tragedy involving his older brother. Everyone in town thinks baseball is what Jack needs to help him move on, but Jack doesn't agree.

Person vs. Society Book Examples- This blog post contains a conflict anchor chart, as well!
  • Ruby Lee and Me by Shannon Hitchcock- The year is 1969, and Sarah's best friend is Ruby Lee. The trouble is that Ruby Lee is black and Sarah is white. The school is set to be integrated next year, and the first African American teacher has been hired. Tension is high as Sarah tries to navigate through the complex issues of her rural Southern town.
  • A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen- Greta used to live with her entire family in East Berlin, but her family is split apart when the Berlin Wall is erected overnight, while her father and brother are visiting West Berlin. Greta can't help but dream of freedom in the West, even though those types of thoughts are forbidden. Years pass, and Greta is resentful. She is thinking about risking her life in order to live a life of freedom.
  • Among the Free by Margaret Peterson Haddix- This is the author's final book in the Shadow Children series. In this book, Luke accidentally sets off a rebellion that results in the overthrow of the government. The people are finally free, but there are still plenty of questions.


You may choose to use the list I've provided in a number of ways, but this is the activity I would do because it keeps everyone engaged. I would write the numbers 1 through 4 on sticky notes, and then place each sticky note on one quadrant of the anchor chart (1 in Person vs. Person, 2 in Person vs. Nature, etc.) Then I would tell my students that I'm going to show them a book and read a brief summary. As they are listening to the summary, they need to determine the type of conflict that is being revealed. After I've finished reading the summary, I'd allow students a moment to turn to a partner to discuss their answer. Then, when I say "Reveal your answer", students hold up the number of fingers that correspond with their chosen answer.

If you are looking for additional resources for teaching conflict to your upper elementary students, feel free to check out the following resource. I have placed my bundle image here, but all of these items are also available for individual purchase in my TpT store.
Types of Conflict Resources- a PowerPoint, task cards, posters, a craftivity, partner plays, and more!

Thanks for stopping by today! 


Pin for future reference:
Teaching Story Conflict: This blog post includes an anchor chart idea plus several published examples of each of the four main types of story conflict.

Fostering a Growth Mindset: Viewing Constructive Criticism as Helpful Feedback

Let's face it... it's not easy to receive constructive criticism! No matter your age, it can be difficult to hear that you did something incorrectly, or that something you were proud of isn't quite as perfect as you first thought it was! However, that's what we expect our students to do daily. Helping students to learn how to respond to these comments with a growth mindset is a worthwhile undertaking, as it is an ability they will be able to use throughout their lives. Today, I am going to share a lesson that you could use to introduce this concept to students. This lesson would work best after students have a basic understanding of the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.
FREE Growth Mindset Lesson: Help students understand the difference between criticism and feedback with this growth mindset activity.

Step 1: Share a real-life personal experience.

If you're like me, you have no shortage of real-life experiences that you could talk to your students about. We know that students love to hear stories about our lives outside of school, so here's an example I might share with students:

Friends, let me tell you about my evening yesterday. Technically, it all started yesterday morning. I set my alarm so I would wake up super early, because I wanted to have time to try a new crockpot recipe I had found. I woke up, chopped vegetables, and threw all of the ingredients into the crockpot just like the recipe directed. Then I started the crockpot, and got ready for school. As I was driving to work yesterday morning, I felt sooooo proud of myself!

When I got home from school last night, I walked into my house, and it smelled so good! I was thinking about how nice it was to have dinner already made, and how I was going to do this more often. Unfortunately, though, my good vibes were crushed an hour later, when the rest of my family tried my meal. First, Brooke announced that it was too spicy. Then, Kayla stated that she wished she had some rice to eat with it. Then, Troy said it was good, but the chicken was a little overdone, and he asked if I knew how to operate the crockpot's timer so that it could start cooking later.

Let me tell you... I felt some anger and resentment bubble up inside of me when I heard everyone's comments! Here I had gotten up early while everyone else was still sleeping to make this dinner. Rather than acting appreciative, though, everyone in my family was complaining!! I was about to tell my family that I didn't appreciate their criticism, when it hit me. Their remarks weren't necessarily critical. They were actually just giving me feedback... their ideas for what would make this meal even better if I decided to make it again. There was no need for me to feel angry and offended.

Step 2: Ask student volunteers to share a similar experience.

Ask: Has anything similar ever happened to you? Have you ever worked hard on something, only to have another person tell you that it could actually be done better? 

It usually doesn't take much prompting to convince students to share their own experiences of receiving criticism. However, if they need a few prompts, ask students to think about comments made by parents, teachers, coaches, older siblings, etc.

Step 3: Define criticism and feedback.

Write criticism and feedback on the board, and tell students that one word is closely associated with fixed mindset beliefs, and the other is more closely associated with growth mindset beliefs. After having students predict the associations, take time to discuss how the words are similar and different. Criticism and feedback are similar in that both involve one person stating their opinion or response about another person's work. The main difference between the two words, however, is closely related to how the receiving person chooses to interpret the statements. People who choose to view the remarks as criticism will get defensive, and will likely start thinking fixed mindset thoughts like "This is too hard" or "I want to give up". On the other hand, people who view the remarks as feedback will start thinking growth mindset thoughts like "This person is trying to help me" or "That's a really good point! I'm going to try that!".

Step 4: Empower your students.

Discuss the many pros of viewing remarks as feedback, and the cons of viewing remarks as criticism. I tell my students that they will be responding to other people's opinions about their work throughout their lives, and if they can learn NOW how to view these comments as feedback as opposed to criticism, it will truly help them lead happier lives. I love anchor charts, and I believe this is a perfect opportunity to make an anchor chart like the one below with your students. You and your students may choose different ways to phrase the statements, but this one gives you a general idea.
Growth Mindset Anchor Chart: Help students understand the difference between criticism and feedback.

Up to this point in the lesson, there has been a lot of discussion, and now I'm ready to give students an opportunity to work with the concept on their own. I display two scenario cards for students (using the document camera), and distribute the response sheets. Students read one of the scenarios, and then write what they would tell their classmate to help him or her view the comments as feedback instead of criticism. If they finish and still have time, they can complete the other scenario in the same way.  

Step 5: Revisit the topic throughout the year.

At the end of this lesson, I tell my students that if they find themselves in a situation where they have to choose whether to view others' remarks as feedback and criticism, I would love to hear about how they handled the situation. In addition, bring it up during your own classroom lessons. For example, before beginning writing conferences, you might say, "I'm going to be conferencing with students today on their personal narrative rough drafts. I am hopeful that you will all choose to view my comments as helpful FEEDBACK, and not negative criticism."

If you're looking for ready-to-go resources that will help you teach your students about effective growth mindset methods, I invite you to check out my Growth Mindset PowerPoint! It includes five worksheets plus directions on how to split the PowerPoint into a 5-day unit. 
Growth Mindset PowerPoint and worksheets. This file includes directions on how to split this PowerPoint into a 5-day mini-unit... perfect for back-to-school time. Five growth mindset worksheets are also included!

Looking for more Growth Mindset tips? I have teamed with several 2nd-6th grade bloggers to create this Growth Mindset Roundup of ideas. Hop around to the different blogs and check out the great tips!

Context Clues: Read Alouds with FREE Printables!

As a teacher of English Language Learners, I always spend quite a bit of time each year focusing on context clues. I feel that it's essential to teach students how to use clues within the sentence and in surrounding sentences to "crack" the meaning of an unknown word. I use a detective theme, and students always respond well to this analogy. They enjoy "putting on their detective hats" and "solving the mystery" regarding an unknown word. 

Today, I decided to share two published books that I like to use as mentor texts when I am teaching about context clues. One is perfect to use with students in the younger grades (2nd-3rd), and the other is better suited for students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classrooms. (Full disclosure: this blog post contains affiliate links.)
FREE Context Clues Lessons! These two books are perfect for practicing how to use context clues when reading!  There is a free worksheet with each book!

Context Clues Mentor Text: Middle Elementary

The picture book Baloney (Henry P.) by Jon Scieszka is perfect for students in 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms. In this book, the main character is an extraterrestrial named Henry P. Baloney. He is late for school and has to scramble to come up with an excuse for his teacher. 
FREE Context Clues Lessons! This book is perfect for practicing how to use context clues when reading!  A free worksheet is available, too!

What makes this book so fun, though, is that Henry uses his own language as he makes up an outlandish excuse for his teacher. In creating Henry's language, Jon Scieszka uses words from 17 languages on Earth (plus a spoonerism and a couple transpositions). The result is sentences like "...which made me exactly seven minutes late this aamu."
FREE Context Clues Lessons! This book is perfect for practicing how to use context clues when reading!  A free worksheet is available, too!

When I read this book with students, I like to have them try to use context clues to determine the meaning of each foreign word. When I turn to a new page, I do not show them the illustrations right away. First, I read the page, and then ask the students if they can figure out what each unknown word means. Sometimes, it is impossible to decipher the meaning of the unknown words without looking at the illustrations (zimulus on the page above provides an example of this). Other times, the word is a cognate (like deski), making it easy to predict. Finally, there are words where students can use context clues found in the rest of the sentence or surrounding sentences (like torakku and szkola) to determine the word's meaning.

I created this handout to use with this book. I place it below my document camera, and we record our thoughts as we progress through the book. 
FREE Context Clues Lessons! The book Baloney is perfect for practicing how to use context clues when reading!  Use this free worksheet along with the book!   FREE Context Clues Lessons! The book Baloney is perfect for practicing how to use context clues when reading!  Use this free worksheet along with the book!

Note: The image on the right shows the answer key. Keep in mind, though, that the last column may vary, based on your discussion with your students. For example, the word fracasse requires some deep thinking, and will likely be difficult for your students to figure out on their own. You might decide to go directly to the glossary to find the definition for this word. Personally, I would try to help guide my students through the clues given by the author. (For example, you might remind them that at this point in the book, the astro guys are furious with Henry because he just insulted them and destroyed their raygun. The author says that the astro guys made a new plan to fracasse Henry's school. What might they want to do to Henry's school if they are angry?)

Context Clues Mentor Text: Upper Elementary

The chapter book The Get Rich Quick Club by Dan Gutman lends itself to creating a fun context clues lesson for students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. In this book, one of the supporting characters, Quincy, is from Australia. She uses Australian slang phrases often, and it's super fun to try to use context clues to decipher what she's actually saying! 
FREE Context Clues Lessons! This book is perfect for practicing how to use context clues when reading!  A free worksheet is available, too!

As you can see below, Dan Gutman provides translations in the form of footnotes at the bottom of each page.
FREE Context Clues Lessons! This book is perfect for practicing how to use context clues when reading!  A free worksheet is available, too!

I created the handout below to use with Chapter 2 of this book. I begin the lesson by telling students that we have an unusual, yet fun way to practice using context clues today! It involves reading a few chapters from this book. I explain that I will read a few pages aloud before starting the context clues activity. Then, I open up the book and start reading from the beginning of the book. (You'll likely succeed in enticing a few of your students to read the entire book on their own!) However, if you're running short on time, you can start at page 7, where Chapter 2 begins. When you reach page 11, distribute the handout. Tell your students that the rest of the pages in this chapter have similar phrases said by Quincy, and you will be stopping at the end of each page to give them time to use context clues, and then record their predicted translations on the lines. I suggest doing the first one together as a class.
FREE Context Clues Lessons! The book The Get Rich Quick Club is perfect for upper elementary students who are reviewing context clues! Use this free worksheet along with the book!      

I hope you and your students enjoy these two mentor text lessons! If you're looking for additional context clues activities, be sure to check out this blog post, where I share a free interactive lesson! Also, feel free to take a look at the resources I have available in my TpT store. I've displayed images of my two bundles below, but all of these activities are available for individual purchase as well.

A Context Clues Bundle designed especially for students in 
2nd and 3rd grade:

A Context Clues Bundle designed especially for students in 
4th, 5th, and 6th grade:

Funny, New Picture Books Your Students Will LOVE!

Elementary students of all ages will enjoy these hilarious new picture books!
For me, stepping into the children's section of my local bookstore, and gazing at the covers of the featured picture books is like walking into a bakery and ogling over the decadent treats that line the bakery case. In both locations, my heart starts to race and my mouth begins to water! Can you relate?

During my most recent trip to the bookstore, I hit the jackpot! I found two books that were completely new to me (published in 2017), and I fell in love with both of them. Both are quite funny, making them perfect books to engage students of all age levels. (Full disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links.)

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt- This hilarious picture book will surely become a favorite classroom read-aloud!
As you can probably guess, The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors was the first book to catch my attention. Check out that cover! I was eager to open it up and find out how Drew Daywalt created a legend to go along with this popular game.
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt- This hilarious picture book will surely become a favorite classroom read-aloud!

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt- This hilarious picture book will surely become a favorite classroom read-aloud!

I was not disappointed. This book is hilarious! It begins with Rock's crushing defeats over Clothespin and Peach. Next, it moves on to Paper's victories over Printer and Trail Mix. Then, readers watch Scissors defeat Tape and Chicken Nuggets. Finally, the epic battles between Rock, Paper, and Scissors take place. The three great warriors are relieved to finally have met their matches. The story ends with "That is why children around the world- in backyards, on playground, and yes, even in classrooms- still honor the three great warriors by playing... Rock, Paper, Scissors!"

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt- This hilarious picture book will surely become a favorite classroom read-aloud!

The author does an exceptional job of exhibiting voice in this book. In fact, if you teach your students about the Six Traits of writing, and spend time on the voice trait, this would be a great mentor text to add to your list.

I highly recommend asking your librarian to consider purchasing this book for your school library, or you might even want to purchase a personal copy for your own classroom. (Kids will be waiting in line to check this out from the library!) This one is sure to become a class favorite! I must warn you, there ARE a few incidents of some crude humor, so if this makes you uncomfortable, you might not enjoy this book quite as much. (Clothespin is holding a pair of men's underwear when they do battle. Also, when Rock challenges Peach, he tells Peach, "You, Sir, look like a fuzzy little butt.") I'm sure the crude humor, though, will make students love this book even more!

XO, Ox: A Love Story

XO, OX: A Love Story by Adam Rex! This fun classroom read-aloud is perfect for identifying character traits, theme, and to practice inferencing!
This book is quite different than The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors. Whereas the previous book was clearly funny in an in-your-face sort of way, XO, Ox: A Love Story contains more subtle humor. I love reading these sorts of picture books with upper elementary students because it's so fun to watch them "catch" the more advanced humorous elements.

In this book, Ox writes a fan letter to Gazelle to tell her that he loves her. Gazelle send a canned response and a photo as a reply. Ox, which turns out to be quite gullible, write a second letter and receives the same reply. Ox does not understand that Gazelle is not responding herself, in fact, he writes back and mentions the "amazing coincidence!" The book continues on with Ox and Gazelle exchanging letters, and Gazelle gets more and more rude in her responses to Ox.
XO, OX: A Love Story by Adam Rex! This fun classroom read-aloud is perfect for identifying character traits, theme, and to practice inferencing!

One of the best things about this book is its ending. It ends with "Dear Ox," and the reader must infer what Gazelle is going to tell Ox in her letter. The illustrations on the final page and inside the back cover makes the ending obvious.
XO, OX: A Love Story by Adam Rex! This fun classroom read-aloud is perfect for identifying character traits, theme, and to practice inferencing!

This book also includes an important message about judging others. This book would make a great read-aloud while you are covering ELA topics like character traits, inferencing, and theme.

I would love to hear your humorous picture book recommendations! Please comment below with a favorite title that I should check out!

Pin for later:

Interactive Digital Task Cards!! {FREEBIE included!}

Find out about the new task card technology called Boom Learning! These task cards contain so many innovative features that you have to see for yourself!
Less than a decade ago, I didn't even know what a "task card" was. Now, however, I can't imagine teaching without them! They are so student-friendly, and they can be used in SO many different ways!

Now... get this... new technology has allowed task cards to be IMPROVED! The talented people at Boom Learning have found a way to create digital task cards that students complete online!! And to make it even easier, they have joined forces with TeachersPayTeachers! A set of Boom Cards can be purchased on TpT, and after you purchase, a link transports you right to the Boom Learning platform where the digital task cards are housed. (Full disclosure: I am receiving a free renewal for writing a blog post about Boom Learning.)

Boom Cards are truly incredible! Why? Let me share a short list of just some of the awesome features provided by Boom Cards:

  1. Boom Cards are paperless! That means that no printing, no cutting, no laminating, and no storing is required! 
  2. Boom Cards are innovative! At my recent school, my principal was thrilled whenever a teacher implemented a new type of technology into their classroom activities. 
  3. Boom Cards provide immediate feedback! After a student answers each question, he is informed immediately whether his answer is correct or incorrect. Students who choose an incorrect answer are given an opportunity to answer again.
  4. Boom Cards are student-friendly and engaging! They feel like any other educational app that you might find on an electronic device. Kids can earn badges and awards. They can even sign in from home to access the cards, and do them with a parent! 
  5. Boom Cards are teacher-friendly! Once a teacher sets up an account, he or she can add students and then assign a deck to individual students or to the entire class. Because the task cards are self-checking, the teacher can access reports that tells how each student did on the assigned decks.
  6. Boom Cards are versatile! They work on any device... SMARTBoards, iPads, desktop computers, phones, etc. Furthermore, Boom Cards can be used in multiple ways! Students can complete them individually at their desks, iPads can be set up at a learning center, or your entire class can work through them together as a large group activity using the Fast Play option!
During this launch period, Boom Learning is providing a one-year subscription to every teacher for FREE! After the year has passed, you can either renew your subscription in order to access the premium features, or you can continue to play all of your decks for free using the Fast Play option!

I encourage you to check out a deck for yourself! These truly unique task cards can best be understood by exploring a deck. Feel free to explore my FREE Boom Card deck that focuses on possessive nouns. Just click on the image below to check it out!
FREE digital task cards! This set focuses on singular and plural possessive nouns.

I currently have a few decks available in my TpT store, and I hope to add more in the coming months. Click HERE to view my current listing of Boom Cards.

Interactive digital task cards! Find out about this unique and innovative way to facilitate task card use in your classroom!

If you try them out, please let me know what you think! I hope you and your students love them as much as I do!

Anticipatory Set: 8 Ideas for Engaging Students

The very first principal I had was a huge fan of building anticipatory set, or a short activity that "hooks" your students and focuses their attention for the instruction that will follow. I don't remember a single detail about my first observation lesson (I don't even remember what subject was observed!), but I do remember the followup meeting in her office. Apparently my anticipatory set was lacking (or perhaps even nonexistent!), because we spent a lot of time discussing the importance of building anticipatory set at the start of a lesson. She provided many examples for me, and then sent me on my way, urging me to focus on this critical part of each lesson when I was writing my lesson plans.

As a new teacher, I was eager to please, so I tried my best to create engaging "hooks". I can't say that I have always incorporated an anticipatory set activity into every lesson, but I have found that they help students retain information, so I really do try to take the time to plan this introduction step. Below, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite ways to build anticipatory set, and I've included a short explanation or example. (Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.)
8 ideas for incorporating an anticipatory set activity into your lessons!

1.  Ask an open-ended question related to the topic.
  • Ask students to think of a scenario that shows why it's important to understand fractions.
  • Ask students to think of advantages and disadvantages of living in various regions in the United States.
2.  Play Hangman.
  • Choose a meaningful word or two from the lesson, and play Hangman with your students! After they determine the words, tell them that at the end of the lesson, you will be asking them what the two words mean, so they should be sure to watch and listen for these words.
8 ideas for incorporating an anticipatory set activity into your lessons!

3.  Play Charades or Pictionary.
  • Let's say today's social studies lesson is about the transcontinental railroad. Write "train" on a slip of paper, and give it to a volunteer. That student comes to the front of the room and tries to act like a train without speaking. 
  • Consider a topic like the water cycle that you know that your students learned about in a previous grade level. Tell your students that you are going to draw something on the board without talking, and it's their job to guess what you're drawing. Proceed to draw a water cycle diagram on the board. This is an excellent way to check your students' prior knowledge.
  • NOTE: If you want to keep the noise level down, designate a student to be the "caller". When students have an idea they want to share, they raise their hand. The "caller" calls on students to share their idea.
4.  Watch a video.
  • Thanks to YouTube and educational websites like BrainPop, there are no shortage of brief videos that can be used to build anticipatory set!
5.  Anticipation Guide
  • I love to create anticipation guides. Below you will see the anticipation guide I created for my Constitution Day Readers' Theater script. Before handing out the scripts, students read each statement and predict whether it's true or false in the first column. After reading through the script as a class, students return to the anticipation guide and complete the activity again, writing true or false in the second column. Students usually enjoy discovering which of their predictions were correct, and which were incorrect.
An Anticipation Guide for Constitution Day!

6.  Do something unexpected!
  • Tell students that they will silently watch you for 1 minute. Proceed to walk around the room with a pad of sticky notes. Write an adjective on the sticky note that describes an object in your classroom. For example, write the word "smooth" on a sticky note, show the word to your students, and then stick the sticky note to the table. Look down at your clothing, and choose an adjective to write on a sticky note, such as red. Show the word to your students, and then stick it to your article of clothing. Repeat with other words, labeling nouns in the room with adjectives. After the minute is over, ask students how all of the labels are alike.
  • Walk into class wearing a pair of the glasses from the Googly Eyes game to introduce a lesson on concave and convex lenses. Take the lenses out of the glasses and let students pass them around, along with the extra lenses in the box, and let students look through the various lenses. Students can even make some predictions about the science behind these lenses!
7.  Read a picture book or play a song.
Looking for a fun anticipatory set activity for introducing idioms? Check out the book Even More Parts by Tedd Arnold!
  • Play the song Ironic by Alanis Morrisette before introducing the term "irony". Use a document camera to display the lyrics so students can follow along. When the song is over, ask students to discuss with a partner what irony might mean.
  • To introduce idioms, read Even More Parts by Tedd Arnold. The character in this book makes a list of all of the crazy things he hears (idioms) like "I keep changing my mind" and "I lost my head". The illustrations in this book are so FUN!

8.  Use a prop. (This one is my favorite!)
  • Bring an object to class that is somehow related to the lesson, and ask your students to predict how it might represent today's lesson. 
  • Sometimes I use a direct representation. For example, if your lesson is about the Pony Express, you might show your students an addressed envelope and a plastic toy horse, and ask how these two items might be related to today's social studies lesson.
  • Sometimes, I create an analogy that is a bit more abstract. Check out my post at Upper Elementary Snapshots for a complete example of employing this type of anticipatory set by clicking on the image. (This post includes a freebie, too!) 

To get the most out of your anticipatory set activity, be sure to revisit the activity at the end of the lesson! Incorporating an anticipatory set activity and referring back to it during the lesson will certainly result in improved student retention!

Teaching about Author's Perspective

Hello! Welcome to our mentor text link up! The book I chose to feature this time is A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech. I have found that this book is an ideal mentor text to use when teaching students about identifying the author's perspective. Full disclosure: this blog post contains affiliate links. :)

A Fine, Fine School- Mentor Text for teaching about identifying an author's perspective or an author's point of view! Includes a FREE follow-up worksheet!

A quick summary: Tillie enjoys school, but she also enjoys being a kid. One day, the principal at Tillie's school, Mr. Keene, decides that the teachers and students at his school are doing so well, that he wants them to have school on weekends. The teachers and students didn't want to go school on the weekend, but no one knew how to tell Mr. Keene that. Mr. Keene is so proud of his school, that he decides to have school on holidays, too. A few months later, he cancels summer break. Finally, Tillie speaks up. She explains to Mr. Keene that although the kids are learning a lot, there are also many learning opportunities that have to be missed, like learning how to climb trees. Mr. Keene realizes that Tillie is right, and he changes the schedule back to the normal Monday-through-Friday schedule. The teachers and children are ecstatic! 

I LOVE THIS BOOK for so many reasons!! First, the author finds a subtle way to express her views on the current state of our educational system, with its overabundance of testing and procedures that are not in the best interest of our students. Along with that, the illustrations by Harry Bliss are fun to look at, but also quite profound. He further emphasizes the author's viewpoint with his illustrations. When I read this book with students, we have fun looking at the details in each illustration.
A Fine, Fine School- Mentor Text for teaching about identifying an author's perspective or an author's point of view! Includes a FREE follow-up worksheet!
Notice the banner that is hanging in the lunchroom that reads "WHY NOT STUDY WHILE YOU CHEW?"!

A Fine, Fine School- Mentor Text for teaching about identifying an author's perspective or an author's point of view! Includes a FREE follow-up worksheet!

A Fine, Fine School- Mentor Text for teaching about identifying an author's perspective or an author's point of view! Includes a FREE follow-up worksheet!
Notice the details in this illustration! The girl is putting a 10,000 count box of pencils in her locker! On the other side, a girl is carrying a backpack with a WIDE LOAD sign.


I'll begin this lesson with an anchor chart that explains author's perspective. (I will also take a moment to explain that some people also refer to this as author's point of view.)

Author's Perspective Anchor Chart- this blog post includes a mentor text activity plus a FREE followup independent practice worksheet!

After reviewing the information on the anchor chart, I'll tell my students that I am going to read aloud a book today, and I want them to try to figure out a belief of the author that is evident in this book. I'll show the cover to my students, and ask if anyone would care to share a prediction about the author's perspective, just based on the title and the cover illustration.


After enjoying the book, we will use discuss each quadrant on the anchor chart. For example, we'll talk about the problem/conflict in A Fine, Fine School, and discuss how it helped us determine the author's beliefs about school. I'll record notes of our discussion on a sticky note, and add it to the anchor chart. After discussing each quadrant, we will ultimately determine that the author of the book believes that today's schools aren't as student-centered as they should be. Rather, most schools are test-centered... administrators are focused on making policies that will allow kids to test well. It's evident that the author believes administrators and policy-makers need to take a step back and realize that a lot of important learning happens outside of schools, too.

After this guided discussion, you can use the following worksheet as independent practice to determine which of your students can identify the author's perspective without your help, and which students need additional small group instruction. Just click on the image below to download the FREE worksheet!

FREE Author's Perspective (Point of View) worksheet! Determine whether your students can identify an author's perspective!

Also, if you are looking for additional resources that focus on the ability to identify the author's perspective, feel free to check out my PowerPoint and worksheet packet!
Perspective PowerPoint for intermediate level students! Includes many practice passages!

Author's Perspective Worksheet Packet- includes 6 practice worksheets!

Thanks for stopping by! Before you leave, be sure to enter the giveaway. One lucky winner will receive all of the books shared in this linkup!! By the way, MY MYSTERY WORD IS SPRING.

Also, be sure to hop around to my friends' blogs and check out the other books shared in this linkup!

A Fine, Fine School- Mentor Text for teaching about identifying an author's perspective or an author's point of view! Includes a FREE follow-up worksheet!