Lesson plan

Head to Head Fiction Reflections

Reading reflection topics like theme, problems, and solutions can be challenging concepts for young readers. Help your students make sense of these literary elements using dynamic organizers that draw comparisons between fiction texts.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Figuring Out the Theme pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Figuring Out the Theme pre-lesson.

Students will analyze fiction themes using dynamic graphic organizers for reading reflections.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(10 minutes)
  • Brainstorm with your students several details about each of the following stories: "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "The Three Little Pigs."
  • Post and take notes on a T-chart labeled with sections for "G.A.T.T.B." ("Goldilocks and the Three Bears") and "T.L.P" ("The Three Little Pigs").
  • Ask your students to turn to a neighbor and share what life lesson or repeating details come up in either tale.
  • Have students share out something they shared or overheard as a class and note student responses on the T-chart in the corresponding columns.
  • Explain that theme often comes in two types. The first is a repeating idea where the author uses repetition of literary devices (i.e., text, phrases, or events) to make a point. Another form is one that describes a lesson about life. For instance, "It's important to have a secure home," could be an inferred life-lesson theme for both G.A.T.T.B. and T.L.P.
  • Share that in the following lesson your students will learn to identify, compare, and contrast theme-related details between fiction texts.
(5 minutes)
  • Display and complete the Head to Head Fiction: Themes graphic organizer with details from G.A.T.T.B. and T.L.P. in front of your class using the "It’s important to have a secure home" life-lesson theme for both stories. (Note: some students may make a case for the repeating idea theme type, as both stories use text repetition to heighten dramatic effect. Either choice is fine!)
  • Point out to your students how theme details belong in specific parts of the diagram. Details include:
    • The three bears' door is open so Goldilocks trespasses by entering the home.
    • Two little pigs built their homes with less-secure materials so the Big Bad Wolf destroyed them.
    • The trespasser in the T.L.P. was a wolf.
    • The trespasser in G.A.T.T.B. was a young blonde girl.
    • In the end of T.L.P., the Wolf was boiled in a pot.
    • In the end of the G.A.T.T.B., Goldilocks ran away.
  • Clarify with your students which items go in each part of the (Venn) diagram and why.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute class sets of the Head to Head Fiction: Themes graphic organizer and one of two short fiction texts.
  • Read, discuss, and agree on a text theme and type with your students. Guide your students to fill out the Head to Head Fiction: Themes graphic organizer.
(15 minutes)
  • Distribute the second short fiction text to student pairs and assign your students to flip and complete the Head to Head Fiction: Themes graphic organizer comparing both short fiction texts by theme.


  • Offer three to four fiction text selections for student choice, differentiated by reading level. Selections should be limited to two to three pages of print.


  • Have students use a double-sided Head to Head Fiction: Themes graphic organizer that compares one of two types of theme on either side (e.g., one side compares two texts with life-lesson themes and the other side compares texts with themes defined by repetitive elements for literary effect).
  • Have students complete the Head to Head Fiction: Protagonists and Challenges worksheet.
  • Have students complete the Head to Head Fiction: Problems and Solutions worksheet.
  • With a computer, internet access, and a projector, you can reference the link to watch Sandra Cisneros reading her story "Eleven." Watch it together and compare it to another short fiction text!
(10 minutes)
  • Show your students four statements:
    • a "lesson about life" statement (e.g., "You can’t always get what you want.")
    • a "repeating idea" statement (e.g., "In every outdoor scene throughout the story, church bells ring.")
    • another of the above two types of statements (e.g., "A hummingbird is always at the window.")
    • a completely unrelated statement (e.g., "The lead character ate three hamburgers.")
  • Ask your students to show you a statement by show of fingers, tell you if it is a theme, and if so, what kind.
(10 minutes)
  • DISCUSS: What common themes, truths, or experiences do you share with characters from stories of other places and times?

Add to collection

Create new collection

Create new collection

New Collection


New Collection>

0 items