Sarah A. Rybak
LA Curriculum and Instruction
May 2, 2006
(Also taught during student teaching Fall 2006)
READ-ALOUD, THINK-ALOUD, WRITE-ALOUD
Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg
• 4th grade students at Matthew Whaley Elementary
4.1 The student will use effective oral communication skills in a variety of settings.
4.4 The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of fiction.
a) Explain the author’s purpose.
b) Describe how the choice of language, setting, and information
contributes to the author’s purpose.
c) Identify major events and supporting details.
d) Identify sensory words.
4.7 The student will write effective narratives, poems, and explanations.
a) Focus on one aspect of a topic.
b) Develop a plan for writing.
c) Organize writing to convey a central idea.
d) Utilize elements of style, including word choice and sentence variation.
- After listening to the story Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg, students will
talk about the way Allsburg uses sensory words to make his writing come alive.
- After listening to the story Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg, students will
understand the concept of perspective and how author’s use differing perspectives
in their writing.
- Together with the teacher on an overhead sheet, students will discuss the
sensory words used by Allsburg on page 26 and create a graphic organizer detailing
the sensory words used.
- Together with the teacher on an overhead sheet, students will write from the
human’s perspective, first filling out a graphic organizer of sensory language and
then writing a short, descriptive paragraph.
- Using a picture, students will write from one perspective in that picture, first
filling out the graphic organizer and then writing a paragraph.
- When finished with their paragraphs, student volunteers will read their
paragraphs to the class and their peers will guess from what perspective in the
picture they wrote from.
• Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg, overhead projector sheets,
photographs showing at least 2 perspectives, worksheets
• 1 hour
• Typical classroom setting
LESSON DESCRIPTION (also see blue sheet)
- Introduce this lesson by asking student’s what some of their favorite
books are. Ask them why they like the books if they don’t have pictures.
How can words on a page be so fun? Ask what makes a story “come to life.”
Student responses should focus on how author’s use description, figurative
language, great language and detail. Then, ask students what it means to
write from a different perspective. Explain that you will be reading a story
called Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburgh about two little ants who go on
an adventure through a kitchen. Ask them if they’ve ever seen “Honey, I
Shrunk the Kids.” Ask how the story would be different if written from the
- Explain that in this story, Chris Van Allsburgh writes from the perspective
of an ant. Explain that the way one person sees things or writes about
things can be very different from the way another may because of the
different perspective of an author. Also explain that sensory words make a
story come to life for readers. Tell students to pay attention to the way the
author writes from the aunt’s perspective and ask them to pay attention to
the sensory language used in the book
- Read the book aloud to students. Ask questions throughout concerning the
language from the reading. Draw student attention to sensory words.
- As a class, have students help fill out a graphic organizer of the sensory
words Van Allsburg uses on one page in the story.
- Then, model for students how to fill out the same graphic organizer
writing from the perspective of a human using sensory words. Model how to
re-write Van Allsburg’s passage from the human perspective in a short,
descriptive paragraph using sensory words.
- Pair each student with a classmate. Each pair should be given one
photograph. Tell students that they will be writing from either perspective
1 or perspective 2 (the designations are written on back of pictures). Have
students fill out individual worksheets imagining themselves in their given
perspective. They will then use the sensory words from their graphic
organizer to write a short descriptive paragraph using their organizer.
*Note : students should not give away their perspective (ex. “I am a shark”)
in their paragraph, but rather use description to describe what they see,
feel, hear, see, etc).
- Ask students how their paragraphs are different than their partners even
though they were writing about the same picture. Re-emphasize how
perspective effects the way people view the world.
- Ask for students to volunteer to read their paragraphs and show the
photograph to the class. Have students guess based on the descriptive
paragraph and sensory words from which perspective in the photograph the
student was writing from.
-Again, close with a re-emphasis on perspective and the use of sensory
words to write a good paragraph.
- Students will complete their graphic organizers using at least 1 word or
phrase for each sense (hear, feel, smell, taste, see). They will then use at
least 5 sensory descriptions in their paragraphs (Formal Evaluation).
- Students may be informally evaluated based on class participation,
attentiveness to the read-aloud, and insightful response to teacher
REFLECTION (May 2006)
Today I taught my first language arts lesson in the fourth grade. The lesson
was in the form of a Read-Write-Think Aloud and focused on point of view and
sensory language. I began the lesson by talking to students about how two people
can see one thing very differently depending on their perspective. I then read the
story Two Bad Ants written by Chris Van Allsburg, an adventure story written
from the perspective of an ant. Throughout the story, we noted how the author
used sensory language to make his story more interesting and vivid to readers.
Following the story we took a look at an excerpt from the book and together filled
out a graphic organizer using the sensory words that the author used.
Things that went well:
• Students loved the story
• Most students enjoyed writing from their various perspectives using the
• The read-aloud adequately demonstrated the mini-lesson idea (sensory
language and perspective)
Things to improve upon
• Activate prior knowledge (what do we know about ants, “queens”, worker
ants, what do they like to eat?
• Use prior knowledge to have students guess what objects are in
story…(“crystals”, “big brown lake”, “cave”, “disk”)
• Eliminate some of the photographs (Toy Story, Pocahontas) as they are too
difficult to write perspective stories from
• Time management (make sure there is enough time to read, talk, guide
students through sensory words used by author, brainstorm ideas from
another perspective, do partner work, and share)
• Watch who you partner together….try and pair some lower level learners
with higher level learners
• More differentiation…some students struggled with the free write despite
brainstorming using a graphic organizer. Some students had no idea what to
do despite the modeling at the beginning.
REFLECTION (November 2006)
Today I taught a lesson that I had planned last year in my Language Arts Curriculum
Class on sensory language and point of view. Prior to teaching, I reviewed my former lesson
plan and reflection from last May to improve my instruction this time around. Because this
lesson was to be observed by the assistant principle, I wanted everything to be perfect and run as
smoothly as possible.
The lesson involved me reading aloud the book Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg to
students and having them pay close attention to the sensory language used by the author and to
point of view. We then looked at a particular page of the story and identified the sensory
language used by the author, putting the information into a graphic organizer (the one to be used
later in their independent practice work). We then took another graphic organizer, and using the
same picture from the story, filled out another graphic organizer from the point of view of the
human instead of the ant in the book. Students were then paired together, given one photograph
and each had to write from a different perspective about the photograph. Each partner then filled
out the same graphic organizer used in the lesson and wrote a paragraph using sensory language
from their assigned point of view.
I thought this lesson went very well and I was very pleased with the writing my students
produced. The lesson was commended by both my cooperating teacher, the learning specialist,
and the assistant principle.
Students were very engaged throughout the lesson. They loved being read to and really enjoyed
the story. Last year I noted that I wish I would have had students guess what each item was in the
story to talk about the sensory language the author used to show (provide clues) for readers to
discover what each thing was in the kitchen instead of telling us. For this lesson I did just that.
This allowed students to be more engaged in the story and really lended itself to us talking about
how the author “showed” with his words by using sensory language and description. I was also
more aware of time management issues. Knowing how long the lesson would take, I planned
accordingly, allowing myself more time to do the lesson with the class to enable more sharing
time at the end.
The student group work went a lot better this time around as well. More aware of the
ability levels in my class, I was able to group students accordingly. Also, I made a different
version of the assignment for my students in special education. This worked so very much
better! By offering certain students a different, more scaffolded assignment, all students were
successful with the final project. I am so glad that I got to re-teach this lesson. Not only did it
go much better this around, but student’s really enjoyed it!
Things to do next time:
- If writing from a non-human perspective, encourage students to make up words for common,
human language. For example, if writing from a shark’s perspective, what might the shark call a
fish (fish is a human word)? Relate this idea to how the author used words like “dark cave” and
“big brown lake” to refer to a mouth and coffee cup.
SAMPLES OF STUDENT WORK
The following are two pieces of student work about the above
photograph. One partner had the modified version of the assignment.
(Example of Differentiated Version)