etermine mportance trategy esson                          

developed and designed by Susan Moran





Strategy One

The task:  Have students choose two picture books. Older students choose books that are longer or more plot driven picture books like  The Three Questions by Jon J Muth. Students will analyze the endings of the two books they choose. First they write how they feel personally about each ending  and then they identify the type of closing techniques that the two authors used.

Write the following on a large chart or on the board.

Common techniques of endings for children's book:

  • States the significance of the main event
  • Dramatic Fixer of the main conflict.
  • Reveals the lesson learned or the message like "Love conquers all" type of scenario.
  • Revealing the significance of the beginning question or dilemma
  • Leaves the reader knowing there will be a sequel to this story.
  • Memorable: Simple but uplifting final words {Gone with the wind ....after all tomorrow is another day}


Specific Task

  1. Students will work in small groups [2-4]
  2. They will explain the ending or beginning by going around the circle until each student has read what they wrote.
  3. Students will then  assess which technique the author employed either at the beginning or end.
  4. They will discuss what worked or didn't work for them and if they would have used a different technique to end or begin the story/ or novel.
  5. Whole Group: Bring all groups together to discuss how author's determine what is important while writing the beginning or ending for their book.
  6. Teacher and students discuss effectiveness of a few techniques.
  7. Conclusions reached should be recorded on a chart.

    Strategy Two

    Topic: Engaging Leads

    The task:

    Two students get together to discuss their novels. Students find a quiet spot and analyze the beginnings of their novels. They first write how the opening intrigued them. Then when they sit together they identify the type of opening each book had.

    Common techniques of openings for novels:

  •  Start with action: The author will have the main character doing something that will intrigue the reader enough they want to know more.
  • Begin with an anecdote - a little story about something the character needs, is afraid of, or desires. Captures the reader's interest.
  • Begins with dialogue that shows the conflict or promise of the story.
  • Introduces the main character and makes him/her interesting and sympathetic enough that the reader wants to learn more.
  • Establishes the setting so that it is felt to be a character.

They then  discuss how satisfying each lead was and if they would change anything. Wrap up will be teacher leading a discussion about student findings.

Strategies From Annapolis

The House - Single Entry

This partial version may be used to show students that it is difficult to determine important information without establishing a purpose or focus for reading. The teacher simply asks the students to highlight any and all important information in the piece.

The House - Double Entry


With the text above, students read the text as a Real Estate Agent - looking for important information from that perspective. With this second piece-longer version-, students read from the perspective of a burglar highlighting any information that may be important to that person.

Discussion Web


Use a short story. Read it aloud and have students fill in this graphic organizer. Purpose: to look at two sides of an issue. A good short story is "The Friday Everything Changed" by Anne Hart. Online copy   or my printout.