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Thanksgiving Literacy Lesson Plan

Created by Kim Greco Sarah Macholdt

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
Goals/ Objectives
SWBAT articulate and support their preference for either turkeys or bald eagles using specific
facts derived from two different articles.
Standards (and Assessment Anchors, if applicable) Under pink line is the fourth grade standards*
Key Ideas and Details:
Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences
drawn from the text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details;
provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
Craft and Structure:
Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a
text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Key Ideas and Details:
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing
inferences from the text.
Craft and Structure:
Compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of the same event or topic; describe the
differences in focus and the information provided.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject

We will set up the chart paper with the organization of the debate (see below).
We will have the articles and highlighters readily available to distribute to students, as well as the
video ready to play for the students.
Printed guiding questions and pencils will also be readily available

I will start by having a whole-group conversation about norms- including teamwork skills,
general respect, and communication. Then we will show the historical thanksgiving opening
List of Norms (Raise your hand to speak, Respect your partner, No wrong answers)
One laptop (for warm up video- Laughing Historically)
Presenter notes and clipboard (3 sets)
Chart Paper
Copies of each article (below)
For the purposes of differentiation, article will be printed at a 3rd- 7th
grade level and distributed to students appropriately
Copies of Guiding questions/ sentence stems
Stack of Lined Paper
Sharpened pencils
Independent reading books (for any student who finishes early)
Classroom Arrangement and Management issues
Briefly describe the physical arrangement of the class and with respect to managing your plans in
the particular space:
1. This lesson will be taught in the library, because it is more quiet and spacious than their
classrooms. Students will be immediately assigned a partner and each set of partners will
sit together for the duration of the lesson. The instructor will arrange the students who are
representing the same bird in the debate to sit on the same side of the table, after reading
the articles. If need be, the groups of studnets can use the large space of the library to
spread out and put together the information they found to use in the debate.
2. The instructor (Ms. Greco or Ms. Macholdt) will be in charge of passing out the materials
that the student will use for the lessons while the students are reading and discussing the
3. Possible management concerns are student disengagement or confusion. We will
encourage engagement but rephrasing questions asked by other students. Confused
students will be able to ask their partners for clarification. They will also be able to ask
their instructor if they are still confused.
1. Go over norms and play video about the turkey from Laughing Historically. (5 minutes)
Put students into predetermined groups- (1 minutes)
2. To open the lesson, I will talk about how we are learning
3. Students will read the 2 articles individually, and I (Ms. Greco) will whisper either eagle
or turkey in their ear and ask them to focus their thoughts on this bird while reading the

article. their groups of 3 (10 minutes) *Here would be a good time to let the students
know that only one of the two articles is required to read, the other is there in case
students finish early*
4. In group students will discuss what they have read about in each article, focusing their
key findings on the bird assigned to them. Students will also use/ answer some of the
guiding questions about the readings to help with their outline (12 minutes)
5. I will introduce the basis of the debate, with a chart paper displaying the layout. I will
talk about how two of the students recently won an essay contest, in which they debated
their stance on the topic of the essay, and will be again debating their stance at the finals.
I will give this opportunity for those two students to briefly talk about their experience
communicating in and planning for a debate.
6. Then the whole group will debate about which would be the better national bird (17
1. For the debate, we will have a chart paper that shows the structure of it. Below is
an example: First, we will flip a coin to see which team starts first
Team Turkey
Team Eagle
Opening Statement First (1minutes)
Open Statement Second (1minutes)
Think about rebuttal (1 min)
Think about rebuttal (1 min)
First Rebuttal (Goes second)
First Rebuttal (Goes first) (1.5minutes)
Think about closing (1 min)
Think about closing (1 min)
Closing Statement (Goes first) (1min) Closing statement (goes second) (1min)
After debate, we will discuss what we have learned about each bird, what key points different
teams made that stuck out to them, and what they would have changed or added if they had the
chance. (2-3 mins)
b. Exit slip: List one fact that you learned about the other teams bird If you could ask
Benjamin Franklin one thing about his decision to make the national bird a turkey, what
would it be? (1 minutes)
Eagle vs. Turkey: America's First Bird Controversy: (National Wildlife Federation)
1. What character trait of the eagle made it a good symbol for the nature?
2. What national event made people choose the eagle as the American symbol?
3. Which famous American did not like the eagle as a choice as the American bird?
4. Based on context clues, what do you think that He is a bird of bad moral character

This debate's for the birds: Who's the better national symbol? (NEWSELA):
1. Why did Benjamin Franklin think that the turkey is a more respectable bird?
2. What are some major characteristics about the turkey and eagle?
3. What evidence does Roger Shields, a Florida scientist, present about the Eagle that
supports the Eagle to be the national bird?
4. What comebacks did the birds have, according to the text?

Assessment of the goals/ objectives listed above

Students will be given a piece of paper to answer the exit slip questions, 1) List one fact that
you learned about the other teams bird from the debate. 2) If you could ask Benjamin Franklin
one thing about his decision to name the turkey the national bird, what would it be? (If students
wrote down facts about the bald eagle, they will now write down a fact about the turkey, etc.)
Kim and Sarah will also collect the lined paper on which students took notes. This will help us to
analyze student thinking. We will also use the class discussion and observations of student
conversations to analyze student thinking. Understanding student thinking will help us to more
accurately progress towards our goals for our students.
Anticipating Students Responses and your Possible Responses
a. We do not anticipate many management issues with the groups of students that we have
selected. They have historically all been fairly well behaved. However, we believe that
some students might have difficulty picking out key facts from the articles are given and
be disengaged. We also anticipate that some students may do more talking and work than
others. In order to try and prevent this, we will ask that everyone tries to voice their
thoughts at least once during the debate, as well as go around and ask those students
some one-on-one questions to guide their thinking.
b. We hope that the response to content of the lesson will be favorable. We hope that the
students enjoy the incorporation of hands-on activities as well as the debate framework.
a. Students will be working with groups, so they will have a team to help each if they run
into trouble with reading comprehension, fluency, pronunciation, or general
b. Students who need greater challenge and/ or finish early will be able to either read their
independent reading book, start a personal research outline for the debate, or answer the
guided questions on loose leaf paper.