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Lesson Plan

Guided Comprehension: Evaluating Using the Meeting of the Minds Technique

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Three 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Sarah Dennis-Shaw

Avon, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1

Sessions 2 and 3


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Define and understand the meeting of the minds technique

  • Take on the role of characters in a story and debate their perspectives, clearly and convincingly presenting the characters' viewpoints

  • Engage in an oral debate in small groups

  • Use critical thinking skills to create questions relevant to the text

  • Use the strategy of evaluating to make judgments about characters in a text

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Session 1

Stage 1: Teacher-directed whole-group instruction (40 minutes)

1. Explain to students what it means to evaluate their reading. Tell students that evaluating means making a judgment about a story or a character. Give an example. Explain that they will be participating in an activity in which they pretend to be a character in a story, and will respond to questions as that character. Explain how they will be "evaluating"--by taking on the role of the character, they are making judgments about that character, other characters, and events in the story.
  • Read an original version of The Three Little Pigs aloud to students. Ask students to think about the different points of view of the wolf and pigs as they listen to the story.

  • Display the Meeting of the Minds Chart for students. Fill in the character columns with "pigs" and "wolf." Ask students to imagine the three little pigs and the wolf having a debate about the incidents in the story. Have students brainstorm questions that an interviewer could ask the characters. Record the questions on the chart.

  • Choose one question and, in each of the character columns, record how each character might respond to the question. For example:
Do you think you did anything wrong in this situation?
  • Pigs’ response: No, we were just minding our own business in our houses.

  • Wolf’s response: I was just looking for some food. I can’t help it if I’m hungry.



2. Demonstrate the strategy. Ask two to four students to act as the wolf and pigs. (You may choose to have one or three students represent the three pigs.) Explain to students that there also needs to be a moderator to ask the questions, and a summarizer to summarize the debate.
  • Using the question previously demonstrated, have the student moderator ask the question and have each character respond.

  • Explain to students that they must “become” the character and answer the question as the character would. There is no script to read from so students should just ad-lib.

  • After students answer the question, give a brief summary of their answers to demonstrate the role of the summarizer.
3. Guide students to apply the strategy. Gather students into groups of four. Have students answer another question on the meeting of the minds chart. Each student in the group should have a role (moderator, character, or summarizer). When students finish, ask them to switch roles within their groups and pose another question from the chart.

4. Practice individually or in small groups. After students have had a chance to practice, bring the whole class back together. Tell students that they are going to hear another version of the same story. Read The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs aloud.
  • Pass out individual copies of the Meeting of the Minds Chart to each student.

  • Divide the class into small groups (7–9 students per group) and ask them to simulate another meeting of the minds. Students should begin by brainstorming questions and recording them on their charts. The characters should remain the same (wolf and pigs). Students who do not have a role should act as the audience.

  • Have students switch roles after each question.
5. Reflect. Ask students to reflect on the meeting of the minds technique. How did it help them understand the characters? What did they like and dislike about the debates? Did it help them better understand the stories?

Stage 2: Teacher-guided small groups and student-facilitated independent practice (40 minutes)

Before beginning Stage 2, students must be divided into three instructional-level groups. Students with similar instructional needs should be grouped together. This does not necessarily mean that students in each group are on the same reading level. Instead, they may have similar needs for comprehension instruction (e.g., students who have trouble making inferences or students who need extra practice making connections between texts).

Students are working in three different areas during this stage:

  • Teacher-guided small-group instruction

  • Student-facilitated comprehension centers

  • Student-facilitated comprehension routines

Classroom management is at the discretion of each individual teacher. You may want to assign students to small groups and set up a rotation schedule, or you may want to allow groups of students to choose their own activities. Regardless, each group of students needs to visit the three areas at least once in the three-session lesson.

1. Teacher-guided small group instruction. Choose one group to begin with you as follows:
  • Review the meeting of the minds strategy using the example of the three little pigs story from Stage 1.

  • Guide students in reading an instructional level text, preferably with conflicting characters. You may choose to use another version of the Three Little Pigs or a new version of a common fairy tale. Some suggested books are available at Folk and Fairy Tales, Tongue-in-Cheek Versions.

  • Have students simulate a meeting of the minds debate.

  • Have students reflect on using the meeting of the minds technique and how it can help them to evaluate what they read.
2. Student-facilitated comprehension centers. Students may be assigned to centers or choose activities on their own.
  • Drama center. Have students read and perform a Readers Theater for The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. (A script is available at Readers Theater Script for The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs.) When finished reading, ask students to evaluate each of the characters in the skit and write down their judgment to share with the group. What did they think of the wolf? The pigs? What would they have done if they were in the same situation?

  • Writing center. Have students write a review of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. Remind them that they should use the evaluating strategy to make judgments about the story. Have students read their reviews to a partner and discuss.

  • Genre center. Have students read and explore other popular fairy tales. If possible, have varying versions of popular fairy tales available for students to browse (for example, different versions of Cinderella or Jack and the Beanstalk). A list of varying versions is available at the Folk and Fairy Tales, Tongue-in-Cheek Versions website. Have students reflect in their journals about the different versions of a fairy tale and give reasons why they like one particular version better.

  • Internet center. Using the interactive Venn diagram, have students compare two versions of the Three Little Pigs. Afterwards, have students write evaluative statements describing the major differences between the two versions.
3. Student-facilitated comprehension routines. Working in small groups, students engage in three different literacy strategies. Students should already be familiar with each of the strategies and have practiced them over time. For more information, review the Summary Sheet or refer to the text Guided Comprehension: A Teaching Model for Grades 3-8 by Maureen McLaughlin and Mary Beth Allen.

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Sessions 2 and 3

For Sessions 2 and 3, pick up where you left off the previous session. The suggested time for each session is 60 minutes, however, since the group only had 20 minutes in small groups during Session 1, you may want to meet with them for another 20 minutes and then switch groups for the last 40 minutes. The rotation should continue until all three groups have visited all three areas. In Session 3, students will spend 40 minutes in small groups, leaving 20 minutes for whole-group reflection and discussion (see Stage 3).

Stage 3: Whole-group reflection (20 minutes)

1. Talk to students about the evaluating comprehension strategy that they have been learning. Ask them to tell why and how meeting of the minds helps them to better understand the characters and the stories they are reading.

2. Give students time to share the activities they completed in the student-facilitated comprehension centers.

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To extend the activities in this lesson, have students explore the following websites:

Guided Comprehension: Knowing How Words Work Using Semantic Feature Analysis

Guided Comprehension: Making Connections Using a Double-Entry Journal

Guided Comprehension: Monitoring Using the INSERT Technique

Guided Comprehension: Previewing Using an Anticipation Guide

Guided Comprehension: Self-Questioning Using the Question-Answer Relationship

Guided Comprehension: Summarizing Using the QuIP Strategy

Guided Comprehension: Visualizing Using the Sketch-to-Stretch Strategy

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Use the Meeting of the Minds Rubric to evaluate students' participation and understanding of the meeting of the minds technique and the evaluating strategy. This rubric can be used during the whole-class debate in Stage 1 or during small-group work in Stage 2.

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