Standard Lesson

Developing Inferential Comprehension Through DL-TA and Discussion Webs

3 - 5
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
One 60-minute session
  • Preview
  • |
  • Standards
  • |
  • Resources & Preparation
  • |
  • Instructional Plan
  • |
  • Related Resources
  • |
  • Comments


This lesson uses the narrative text Granddaddy's Gift by Margaree King Mitchell to help students improve their inferential comprehension, prediction, and discussion skills. As part of the Directed Listening-Thinking Activity (DL-TA), students participate in before-, during-, and after-reading activities. Before reading, students answer discussion questions to help activate prior knowledge. During reading, students are presented with a story-specific statement and must argue both sides of the issue and provide reasons for their thinking in small discussion groups. Students are then asked to make predictions as to how the story will end. After reading, comparisons are made between the ending of the story and the students' predictions.

From Theory to Practice

  • Construction of meaning requires transactions with the text in which students read and respond to text using their own prior knowledge, attitudes, and ideas. It is also important for students to solve problems, make predictions and inferences, ask questions, and consider the implications of their ideas.

  • The Directed Listening-Thinking Activity (DL-TA) and Discussion Web help students to activate prior knowledge, predict, discuss, organize, integrate, and summarize information from their reading. These strategies promote interactive learning experiences that are important to literacy learning.


Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. 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.
  • 3. 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 (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Granddaddy’s Gift by Margaree King Mitchell (Bridgewater Books, 1997)
  • Chart paper
  • Pencils, pens, and markers




1. This lesson uses the book Granddaddy's Gift by Margaree King Mitchell. To prepare for the lesson, you may want to visit The Mississippi Writers Page: Margaree King Mitchell. This page contains biographical information about the author that you can share with your students prior to reading the book.

2. Make copies of the Granddaddy's Gift Discussion Web for each pair of students.

3. Write the heading "Predictions for Story Endings" on a sheet of chart paper.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Make predictions about the text

  • Form individual interpretations of the story

  • Respond to a story-specific statement using a Discussion Web

  • Provide supporting reasons for both sides of a story-specific issue

  • Discuss the reasons for their thinking

  • Justify their reasons and thinking in writing

Before reading (5 minutes)

1. Introduce the book Granddaddy's Gift. To activate prior knowledge, discuss the kinds of gifts students have received from their grandparents and on what occasions.

2. Initiate a discussion about the book by asking questions such as:

  • What do you think this story will be about? Why do you think so?

  • What do you think Granddaddy's gift will be? Why do you think that?

  • To whom will he give the gift?

During reading (35 minutes)

1. Identify five or six stopping points in the story where students will make predictions.

2. At the point in the story where Granddaddy learns that he must pass a test to be allowed to register to vote, discuss the following questions:

  • What does the word vote mean?

  • How does a person go about voting?

  • Why would someone want to vote?
3. After the discussion, pair students and provide each pair with a copy of Granddaddy's Gift Discussion Web. Ask students to consider whether or not they agree with the following statement:
Little Joe's granddaddy should have to take a test to be able to vote.
4. Have students work with their partners for approximately five minutes to think of reasons why Granddaddy should have to take the test and reasons why he should not have to take the test.

5. Ask students to argue both sides of the issue and list their reasons on the Discussion Web.

6. After the partner activity, have students form groups of four and spend 10 minutes presenting each member's opinion and justification. Ask students to form a group consensus as to whether or not Little Joe's granddaddy should have to pass a test to vote.

7. A spokesperson from each group will present the group's view and reasons for their thinking.

8. Tally the yes and no responses to determine the general opinion of all the groups in the class.

9. After this exercise, ask students the following questions:

  • Do you think Granddaddy will take the test? Why do you think so?

  • Now what do you think Granddaddy's gift will be? Why do you think that?

  • To whom do you think Granddaddy will give his gift? What makes you think that?
10. Ask students to predict how the story will end. Write students' responses on the sheet of chart paper marked with the heading, "Predictions for Story Endings."

11. Ask students to narrow down the endings to two or three, and have them vote on the ending they agree with. Then have them finish reading the story.

After reading (20 minutes)

1. Compare the ending of the story with the students' predictions.

2. Initiate a discussion by asking the following questions:

  • What was the gift that Granddaddy gave?

  • To whom did Granddaddy give the gift?

  • When and why should people vote?

  • Why is it important to vote?
3. End the lesson by discussing how the class used voting throughout the story.


  • Invite students to work in small groups to complete a DL-TA and Discussion Web following the same format as Granddaddy's Gift; however, have students use a nonfiction story such as Mailing May by Michael O. Tunnell (Harpercollins Juvenile Books, 2000). ASTAL provides other picture books and chapter books for older students in their annotated bibliography of Literature of the Civil Rights Movement.

  • The story Granddaddy's Gift focuses on the themes of courage and determination. Invite each student to write a personal narrative about a time when he or she needed determination and endurance to overcome a difficult situation. Invite students to share their stories with their classmates.

  • This lesson can be used as an introduction to a research assignment. Students can research famous Americans who faced and overcame adversity due to discrimination based on race, sex, or age. Students can also research Martin Luther King's role in the fight for civil rights. This list of Martin Luther King, Jr. websites might be used to find information about King's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement:

  • Teachers can use this story to introduce students to the voting process and to teach students the importance of voting. Incorporate voting into everyday activities to allow the voices of all students to be heard. The Education World article, "Use Children's Literature to Teach About Elections: Ten Books Get Our Vote!" offers suggestions on how to use children's literature to teach about elections.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Observe and assess each student's involvement in the Discussion Web activity using the Discussion Web Rubric.

  • Evaluate each student's ability to provide reasons for his or her thinking.

  • Keep anecdotal notes on each student's ability to use inferential thinking to comprehend and discuss the story.

  • Observe whether each student participated in the before, during, and after reading discussions.

  • Observe whether students are able to work well with partners and in small groups during the reading and writing activity.

  • Evaluate students' written responses to check for construction of meaning.