Monday, April 15, 2013

Adventure #3--Conflict in Fiction

So this year my grade level decided to go all-out Common Core for Language Arts.  Yes, we still have the OAA (Ohio Achievement Assessment) for two more years, but we decided to transition in to CCSS so we have a better idea of what our kids (and staff) are expected to do in the upcoming years.  It's been a great transition, filled with much more rigorous work (the chosen word-of-the-moment to describe anything CC).  One of our units consisted of how characters overcome conflict in literature.  Here's my disclaimer for the rest of this post:  No where in the CCSS does it state you have to teach 5th graders about Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Unknown, Man vs. Society, or Man vs. Self.  However, a couple of other teachers in my building put together a unit based around these types of conflict, and I thought, "how cool!  My kids could totally do this!".  So, I jumped in and the kids loved it.  They felt very sophisticated when talking about classifying types of problems/conflicts in the books they were reading.  They would disagree with each other and find evidence from the text to support their thinking (gasp--how organic that they learn how to do this, not because I made them do it, but because they wanted to prove they were correct).  Exciting stuff happens in room 100, I'm telling you!

One of the lessons I did with my kids had two purposes.  First, I read aloud a lot of picture books for mini-lessons.  The class loves them!  However, most of my students won't pick them up from our classroom library.  I'm going to say it's because they're always reading novels that they don't want to part from (which is very true), but it's also because I don't give them many opportunities to peruse these fabulous picture books.  Thus, Goal #1: get kids looking at my ever-growing picture book collection.  Goal #2: Identify the conflict in the story, cite evidence from the text to support your claim (is my language impressing you yet?  We really have gone no-holds-bar Common Core, baby!), identify the key players (main characters) in the book and describe their relationship with the conflict.  Also, describe each side of the conflict and tell/explain how it was solved.

Let's look at some action shots of this lesson:

One of our favorite books, I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, was snatched up fast for this project.  Find his book here: I Want My Hat Back

Baloney is another great picture book that can be used for many things (context clues, conflict, setting, etc.).  These two got a kick out of it's nonsensical words.
Find this book here: Baloney

These two kids picked Eats, Shoots and Leaves.  I wasn't sure they would be able to pull it off for conflict, but they did!  What a great way to stretch thinking!

While Coretta Scott is certainly not a fictional picture book, it is beautiful nonetheless.  And, what teacher could tell a kid "no" to nonfiction?!?
Find this book here: Coretta Scott

 Blackout is a fairly new addition to my library (I got it as a Christmas gift).  The illustrations are beautiful and it is told in graphic novel format.  Pretty straightforward conflict, too.
Find this book here: Blackout
 Another nonfiction selection, but again, who am I to deny some quality nonfiction learning?  This is a great one: The Boy Who Invented TV.
Find this book here: The Boy Who Invented TV

This was a win/win for me.  The kids had some quality time reading fun, engaging picture books and they learned a little something about how author's craft their stories around conflict and the solving of it.  How do you approach the subject of conflict in literature?  I'd love some new ideas!  Leave a comment below. :)


  1. Great post, and I love the kids interacting with the picture books!! Can't wait to try this out in 5th/6th grade!

  2. I'm doing another picture book activity today. They have to choose a picture book they haven't yet read and identify the theme, mood, and point of view, using examples from the text. Fun way to review before the test!