Teaching Literary Concepts...in 5 Days

This past semester, I implemented reading rotations into my classroom.  I am still tweaking them and trying to get them to work as fluidly as math rotations, but the one thing that has been SPECTACULAR for my teaching has been breaking the concepts I am imparting to 5 days.  Teaching these big ideas (such as conflict or theme or plot) within the span of one week has been a lifesaver for me!  I wanted to share the basic flow of the lessons with you, since it is this flow that has helped me so much.

I begin each week by introducing the concept and creating some sort of anchor chart with the students.  These anchor charts become something we refer to each day the rest of the week.  They really help to cement the ideas for the students and are a key to the actual learning of the concept.

Day one is basically a concept introduction.  Day two is when we interact with the concept.  Usually I give the students some sort of short story or a series of one sentence plot summaries to help demonstrate the concept.  Sometimes I even have them use the reading passages that we are using in class.  But the second day is when the kids really interact with the concept.

On day three, the students are much more invested and knowledgeable about the literary concept that they are learning.  This is when I have them work on their own to show the literary element in the reading passages.  This is when they usually have to dig into the text we are reading and find evidence of the literary element.  They might have to draw a picture of the setting, citing the evidence from the text as to how they knew about the setting.  Or they may have to read the story we are working on and pull out quotes that signify the theme.

Day four and five are writing days.  This is when the students take what they were learning in their *reading* and apply it in *writing*.  Why do I do this?  Simple.  THE TEST is going to have them do it.  They will need to be able to write about their thoughts, pulling evidence from the text to support their thinking.  So, after three days of learning about the concept, the kids are then able to begin the process of writing about that learning.  I always have them use the reading we were doing in class.  They have to pull evidence from the text to talk about character traits or setting or theme. 

Doing these 5 day long sessions has really really REALLY helped my students understand the literary concepts that I have been teaching.  What is even better, is that my students are engaged in the lessons!  I only teach 20 minutes a day.  That is it.  So the kids are focused, they learn, and they APPLY the learning.  I have seen such success with this model!

Is this something you think you could do as well?   Have you been doing a 5 day format in your room?  What are some advantages you have seen?

Now, you could definitely take this model and come up with your own lessons.  BUT if you would like to use the lessons (the actual lesson plans) that I use, you can get them here.  They really, honestly, and truly have made a difference in my classroom....and I hope they will in yours too.


  1. This looks great! I love the concept and will have to see what I can do with it in my middle school class! :)

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

    1. I am so glad you are able to find something useful in it! Let me know how this idea works in your middle school room :)

  2. I have used the character and theme lessons so far and loved them. The students love them too. Instead of making a chart, we use our interactive reading notebooks for the "chart". The students then have it with them when they need it. I make one big chart at the end of the day for my four classes to refer to while in class.

  3. I really like the way you use the current reading to apply the concept in writing. Do you use novels or a reading series?



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