Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Lesson Plan: Compare/Contrast "The People Could Fly" and "Tar Beach"

The following lesson was adapted from Read Write Think. Changes were made to the original lesson, but many of the ideas come from the Read Write Think lesson.

Subject: Reading
Grade: 5th

Integration of Learning Outcomes

· Students will be able to compare and contrast The People Could Fly and Tar Beach by creating a Venn Diagram.

Objectives From Read Write Think:

· Students will discuss multicultural literature in a meaningful, complex manner.

· Students will be able to become familiar with how genre and historical context are used to interpret texts.

· Students will be able to discover how to compare and contrast text to uncover their intertextual links.

· Students will be able to develop ideas in verbal and written form.

· Students will be able to learn how literature and art can be used to express inspiring visions of freedom and liberty.

Standards from Read Write Think:

· Compare and contrast stories in the same genre. Students will compare and contrast their approaches to themes and topics that are similar.

· Students will break down the structure of a text to compare and contrast events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts, noting patterns such as chronology, cause/effect, or problem/solution

· Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

· Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.

· Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features

· Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes

Anticipatory Set: Create a compare and contrast poster as a class. Ask what we look for when comparing and when contrasting. Ask how we can show our comparisons.

Bring students to the carpet with their notebooks to take notes and listen to the read alouds. Show Tar Beach and explain that it is a picture book written by Faith Ringgold. Show the students The People Could Fly written by Virginia Hamilton. Explain that it is an anthology of folk tales. Ask “What is a folk tale?” (A story originating from one culture, passed by word of mouth from generation to generation). Have a student raise their hand and answer.

Explain that we will be comparing and contrasting the two books.

Tar Beach: Read parts from the About page in the back of the book to introduce the story.  Read aloud Tar Beach asking questions along the way (Where is Tar Beach? What does she mean to be free? Etc.)

The People Could Fly: Read an excerpt from the Editor’s Note and Author’s Note.  Read aloud The People Could Fly and ask questions along the way (What’s the major thing in history that is happening?  What happened? What does flying represent? What happens to those who don’t fly?”

Have students identify two characters from the stories. Ask the following questions. Students will discuss with a neighbor before having a few students give their answer:

· Why does Cassie want to fly? What does Cassie’s flying help her to do?

· Why does Toby want to fly? What does Toby’s flying help him to do?

· What would happen if Cassie couldn’t fly? What would happen if Toby couldn’t fly?

· How does Cassie’s reasons for flying differ from Toby’s reasons for flying?

Separate students into small groups. Have them discuss the similarities and differences between Cassie in Tar Beach and Toby in The People Could Fly?  Have students create a Venn Diagram.

Go over what the students have by creating a Venn Diagram as a class using the Read Write Think site.

(Go to closure)


· Use of multi-cultural texts to appeal to students of different backgrounds and cultures.
· Read aloud so lower readers can read on a higher level.
· Make compare and contrast poster as a constant reference for visual learners.
· Interactive Venn Diagram for 21st century learners

Closure: Have students write a short paragraph comparing and contrasting how the two stories are similar and different.

Formative/Summative Assessment

·  Collect short paragraph or Venn Diagram comparing/contrasting Tar Beach and The People Could Fly

· Listen to students’ answers to questions.

· Walk around and observe/assist students.


· The People Could Fly

· Tar Beach

· Reading notebooks and pencils

· Big poster paper and markers (for compare/contrast anchor chart)

· Computer with Internet access

· Projector

· Loose leaf paper


· Interactive Venn Diagram

· Computer with Internet access

· Projector

Reflection on Planning

This lesson was adapted from Read Write Think. My teacher used this lesson in the past.  These books not only help students compare and contrast, but let students know about important issues throughout history.  It links social studies into language arts.

Reflection of Instruction

Some of the students had difficulty understanding the ideas of freedom from the book.  I think they have limited knowledge on civil rights issues in the past and the idea of slavery.  These issues may have been brand new to the students.  Even though I read the “About” sections of both students, next time I think I would need to introduce civil rights issues and slavery more to the class.

I also did the compare and contrast poster first. Students were able to come up with words for both comparing and contrasting.


Flying to Freedom: Tar Beach and The People Could Fly. (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2014, from http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/flying-freedom-beach-people-32.html

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