Practice key fiction reading comprehension skills with these 8 Target Lessons that help students analyze character change, find the best evidence, analyze character point of view, and more.
Target Lessons are highly engaging lessons that teach students critical reading comprehension skills. Each lesson includes scaffolded Pre-Reading, During Reading, and Post-Reading activities that will build student engagement and knowledge as they complete the lesson. Target Lessons are based on high-interest topics that will intrigue students as they build standards-based skills.
Have you noticed skill gaps in your classroom? Do some students struggle with key skills like finding the main idea or understanding character point of view? CommonLit’s Target Lessons can help!
Target Lessons can be used to introduce a new skill or as a form of reading intervention. If teachers notice students struggling with specific standards on CommonLit’s standards-based data dashboard, they can assign a Target Lesson to address this skill gap.
Recently, dozens of elementary Target Lessons have been added to our library. In this blog post, we will focus on fiction Target Lessons for grades 3-5.
Analyzing Character Change
“The Human Zamboni” (5th Grade)
In this story, students learn about a girl named Harper who loves figure skating. As students read, they will practice analyzing character change. A short video explains that students should pay attention to what characters are doing, saying, and thinking to make inferences about how the character feels.
As students read, they will be prompted to stop and answer questions about Harper’s reactions to different events. Students demonstrate mastery of the target skill with the final assessment question: “How do Harper’s feelings about ice skating change throughout the story?”
Finding the best evidence
“Sabeel’s Shell” (3rd grade)
This short story follows a boy named Sabeel who finds a beautiful shell at the beach. However, Sabeel is upset when his shell vanishes. As students read, they practice finding evidence.
During reading, students are prompted to answer multiple choice questions that ask them which sentence best supports characters’ feelings and actions. After students finish reading the text, assess their understanding of the target skill by asking: “How do Sabeel’s feelings about Vikram change from the beginning to the end of the story?” Students will be required to use evidence to support their answer.
“Stray” (4th grade)
Students will read about a girl named Doris who wants to keep a stray dog while learning how to find the best evidence. Before reading, students will watch a short video that explains how to look for words and phrases that show what a character is doing, thinking, and feeling to make inferences about a story. Then, students are told to ask themselves: which words or phrases BEST supports an idea about a character?
As students read, students will answer two-part multiple choice questions. Question 4 asks: “How does discussing the dog make Doris’ parents feel?” This question is followed up by asking students to find evidence to support the answer to Question 4. This is a great opportunity for students to practice multi-part questions that appear frequently on state assessments.
Finding the meaning of unknown words
“MVP” (3rd grade)
During this lesson, students will read about a boy named Derek who wants to be named MVP of his basketball team. Students will learn to look for context clues to figure out the meaning of unknown words.
Scaffolded during reading questions allow for gradual release as students practice the target skill. The first question is multiple choice, asking: “What does the word ‘huddled’ in paragraph 2 mean?” As students move through the questions, they get more complex, culminating in an open response in Question 4: “What does the word ‘hesitated’ in paragraph 29 show about Brandon’s actions?”
“Into the Rapids” (5th grade)
This riveting short story follows a boy named Wyatt who gets thrown into the river during a rafting trip. Teachers can use the customizable slide deck to facilitate a class discussion about the benefits and dangers of white water rafting to build background knowledge. Then, students will be introduced to the target skill of finding the meaning of unknown words.
Students will answer during reading scaffolded practice questions to prepare for Assessment Question 1: “What does the word ‘reassuringly’ show that Brody is trying to do in paragraph 29?”
Identifying theme and summarizing
“As Good As You” (3rd grade)
In this short story, a young girl learns about friendship at taekwondo. As students read, they will practice two skills: identifying theme and summarizing a story. Students will watch a video that explains summaries should be short but still include character, setting, problem, events, and solution. The video focuses on teaching theme through summarizing.
As students read, they will be prompted to stop and summarize parts of the text. This will prepare students for the post-reading assessment questions. First, students will write a 3-6 sentence summary. Then, they’ll identify the theme of the story.
Analyzing character point of view
“The Kids’ Table” (4th grade)
In this Target Lesson, students will read about a boy named James who does not want to sit at the kids’ table this Thanksgiving while practicing analyzing character point of view. A short video explains that point of view varies based on a character’s age, background, and experiences. Before students read, they are prompted to demonstrate understanding of the target skill by answering the question: “In your own words, what shapes someone’s point of view?”
As students read, they will be asked questions about James’ point of view throughout the story. The culminating assessment asks students to make text-to-self connections, asking students: “Think of a time you had to sit at a kids’ table, or imagine that you have. Was your point of view similar to James’ point of view? Why or why not?”
Analyzing how parts of a story fit together
“An Honest Mistake” (4th grade)
Karie learns an important lesson about telling the truth during her spelling test. Students will be introduced to the target, practicing analyzing how parts of a story fit together. The video explains most stories have a beginning, problem, attempt to solve the problem, solution, and lesson.
The during reading questions ask students to identify parts of the story. Students will finish the lesson by answering Assessment Question 2: “What lesson does Karie learn by the end of the story?” Students will explain how each part of the story contributes to the overall lesson.
Looking for more engaging lessons to build knowledge and skills? Explore our full library of Target Lessons here!
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