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Lesson Plan

Reading and Writing Workshop: Freak the Mighty

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Reading and Writing Workshop: Freak the Mighty

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Ten 50- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lara Hebert, EdM

Lara Hebert, EdM

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



From Theory to Practice



This unit revolves around Rodman Philbrick's Freak the Mighty. Lessons include teaching and practicing pre-, during, and after reading comprehension strategies. Before reading, students are guided to make personal connections with the story by jotting down words and phrases as they read the back cover. During reading, students make predictions about the text and skim recently read passages to find one sentence that stands out to them. After reading, student discuss why the author chose the title. Students connect the book to their own writing by focusing on the use of voice in one's writing, figurative language, vocabulary development, and word study. A multiple choice of culminating activities with an accompanying rubric is also included.

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Experienced readers use specific strategies before, during, and after reading in order to make sense of the texts that they read. In order for students to develop these strategies, they need to see the techniques modeled and they need to be urged to practice the strategies themselves. Rick VanDeWeghe writes of modeling: "teachers show how they go about the processes of reading and writing-drawing students' attention to the ways readers and writers think and the real decisions they make, especially when they themselves are challenged." This lesson makes extensive use of modeling through a series of activities related to the book Freak the Mighty.

Further Reading

VanDeWeghe, Rick. "Deep Modeling and Authentic Teaching: Challenging Students or Challenging Students?" English Journal 95.4 (March 2006): 84-88


Atwell, Nancie. 1998. In the Middle: New Understandings about Reading, Writing, and Learning. Portsmouth, N.H.: Boynton/Cook.


Robb, Laura. 2000. Teaching Reading in the Middle School: A Strategic Approach to Teaching Reading That Improves Comprehension and Thinking. New York, N.Y.: Scholastic, Inc.

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