Standard Lesson

Multimedia Responses to Content Area Topics Using Fact-"Faction"-Fiction

3 - 5
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 40-minute sessions
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Young learners are very inquisitive and eager to learn about the world around them. One enjoyable way to do so is by reading books that blend fact and fiction, often with humorous results. This lesson encourages students' natural curiosity about spiders and builds on their prior knowledge. After a shared reading of Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin, students work cooperatively using a strategy called Fact–"Faction"–Fiction to identify what they know, gather information, and create their own multimedia diaries using PowerPoint. Although the topic example used here is spiders, this lesson is easily adaptable to any content area topic.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Couching literacy activities in the context of something meaningful and interesting to students increases the chance of successful learning.

  • When students use technology to access information, analyze it, interpret it, and represent it in a new way, the computer becomes a conduit for the construction of knowledge.

  • Technologies motivate and maintain student interest, provide unique sources and types of information, and afford opportunities for extending the nature of students' reading and writing processes into multimedia composition and comprehension.

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.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of 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.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 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

  • Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin (HarperCollins, 2005)

  • Chalkboard, chart paper, or overhead transparency and projector

  • Computers with Internet access and PowerPoint

  • LCD projector (optional)




1. This lesson requires that both you and your students are familiar with using the Internet to conduct research and with using PowerPoint. To give students additional practice using PowerPoint, you may want to teach "Once Upon a Link: A PowerPoint Adventure With Fairy Tales."

2. Familiarize yourself with the Fact–"Faction"–Fiction strategy. This strategy is best used with children's literature that combines fact with fiction. Students sort the details of the story into those things they think are fact, those things they know are fiction, and those things that are fiction sounding like fact ("faction"). In content area learning, this strategy is useful for determining the differences between facts and opinions. Often, the opinions will be listed beneath the "faction" column because they sound like facts. See the Facts–"Faction"–Fiction Strategy Information sheet for more information.

3. Choose a topic for the lesson. This example uses spiders, but the strategies will work with other insects or animals as well as people (for example, a historical figure from your social studies curriculum). You will need a book to share with students that blends facts and fiction and will want to have some online or print resources available for students to complete their research.

4. If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, schedule Sessions 2 through 5 in your school's computer lab. If possible, arrange to use an LCD projector during Session 5.

5. Obtain a big book copy of Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin or enough copies of the book for students to share in small groups. Alternatively, you can use a document projector to project the book on a large screen.

6. Compile Internet links to be used during the lesson by either creating a webpage of links or bookmarking the websites on the computers students will be using. TrackStar is an online resource that enables you to quickly create a webpage of Internet links. If the topic you choose is spiders, you can choose from the following websites:
7. Assign students to reading/research-response groups of three or four. These groups should be heterogeneous and contain students with different strengths. Ideally each group will contain a strong reader, a strong writer, an artistic student, and a computer-literate student. Make one copy of the Facts–"Faction"–Fiction Project Planning Sheet for each group.

8. Make one copy of the Facts–"Faction"–Fiction Recording Sheet, the PowerPoint Tool Tips, the How Do You Know? sheet, and the Scoring Guide: Spider Diaries for each student in your class.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Analyze and synthesize information from a read-aloud by categorizing it as fact, fiction, or fictional information that sounds factual ("faction")

  • Increase knowledge by conducting research about a specific topic

  • Apply what they have learned by categorizing the information from their research into fact, fiction, or fictional information that sounds factual, and then using this information to create a multimedia project

  • Work cooperatively to research and write about a topic using multimedia tools

Session 1

1. Introduce the book Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin in the following manner:
  • Ask students to look at the picture and the title on the cover of the book. Ask them what they think the book is about.

  • Have students make text-to-self connections. Ask them if they have any "spider stories" to share with the class.

  • Discuss the specific genre the book uses: diary writing. Ask students if they have ever kept a diary. What kinds of things do they write in their diaries?

  • Have students make text-to-text connections. Ask them if they know any other stories that use this type of writing or if they know any other stories by the same author.

  • Ask an "I wonder" question about the book. For example, ask "I wonder what adventures the spider will have." Have students ask their own "I wonder" questions.
Write students' response on the chalkboard, chart paper, or an overhead transparency.

2. Distribute the Facts-"Faction"-Fiction Recording Sheet. Tell students that they are going to listen to the story and jot down their ideas. They are to listen for facts: things they can use in constructing their own spider stories. They are also to listen for fiction: things that are not true but make the story enjoyable. They should also record instances of "faction": things that are fiction but sound like they are facts.

3. Begin reading the story Diary of a Spider. Model how you would place your ideas in the Facts-"Faction"-Fiction Recording Sheet. For example, you might say "On March 1, Spider learned three things. Which one is fact, which is definitely fiction, and which one could be ‘faction'?" After writing "spiders are not insects - insects have six legs" in the Fact column, ask students to verify this fact. After writing "butterflies taste better with a little barbecue sauce" in the Fiction column, discuss this statement with the class. How does it add interest to the story? After recording "without spiders, insects could take over the world" in the "Faction" column, discuss why this could be true or false. This is an opinion, based on some fact, using hyperbole or gross exaggeration.

4. While you read the rest of the story, ask students to record their own ideas on their recording sheets. You might ask some of the following questions while you read:
  • March 16: What do you know about flies and spiders? What are the facts?

  • April 12 and 13: What type of drill do we have that resembles the vacuum drill? Why would the vacuum be a danger to the spider? What is the fact? What is the fiction? What is the "faction"?

  • May 7: What is molting? Why do spiders molt? What happens in the story about molting that is a fact? What is fiction?

  • July 9-17 and August 1: What are some of the dangers to spiders? What is fact? What is fiction? What is "faction"?
5. After reading the story, discuss the students' Facts-"Faction"-Fiction Recording Sheets. Ask students what they learned to be true. Discuss what the author did to make them know some things were fiction. Discuss the "faction" column. What devices did the author use to "trick" them? Help students construct plans for researching the "faction" items. Where can they look to find out if these are real facts?

Note: Students should keep their recording sheets as they will use them in every session of this lesson.

Session 2

1. Begin by rereading Diary of a Spider aloud to students.

2. Let students know that in this session they will research facts about spiders. This will be for use in future sessions when they will be working in reading/research-response groups to create their own spider diaries. The diaries may be about spiders in general or they can pick a spider of interest and make the diary specific to that type of spider. The diaries must contain at least five spider facts. However, they also need to add some fiction and "faction" to make the diaries more interesting.

3. Give students the remainder of this session to do research for their spider diaries. They should continue to use their Facts-"Faction"-Fiction Recording Sheets from Session 1, filling in additional facts as they research spiders on the websites you have bookmarked for them (see Preparation, Step 6). Remind them to also research the "faction" items on their lists to discover if there is any truth in the statements. You might also want to distribute and discuss the Spider Vocabulary list.

4. Check in with students at the end of the session to see if they need more time to complete their research; give them additional time as necessary.

Session 3 and 4

1. Begin by distributing the PowerPoint Tool Tips and reviewing how to use PowerPoint.

2. Have students get into the reading/research-response groups you have assigned (see Preparation, Step 7). Give each group a copy of the Facts-"Faction"-Fiction Project Planning Sheet and discuss. Students should begin by sharing their recording sheets to begin planning their diaries, which they will complete in their groups. After comparing their research, they should decide which spider they would like to write about and what facts they would like to include. They should also plan how they will use fiction to enhance the interest. Finally, they should plan how to use "faction" in their stories to inspire creative thinking and research interest in their readers. During the planning session, students should have access to computers so they can search through PowerPoint for some images, backgrounds, and sounds to use in their stories. Spiders, Mites, and Scorpions Clipart is a good resource for images as well.

Note: If students are having trouble with "faction," tell them to have their spider share an opinion. A good example in Diary of a Spider is the hyperbole used on March 9 where Grampa states that "without spiders, insects could take over the world."

3. Students should work in their groups to complete their project planning sheets. Once they are finished, they can move onto the computers and begin to enter the information into PowerPoint. They should continue to work in their groups to complete their stories until they have completed a week-long diary. Keep copies of Diary of a Spider available for students to refer to while they write their own spider diaries.

Session 5

1. Each group presents their PowerPoint diaries. While groups are presenting, the rest of the class should have their Facts-"Faction"-Fiction Recording Sheets available so they can continue to record information while viewing the presentations.

2. Following the presentations, ask students to share their recording sheets in new small groups. Have them compare the information in their three columns. Then, have them work together to come up with a "big idea" to describe why they placed items in each column. What makes an item a fact? What characteristics helped determine something was fiction? What types of items were placed in the "faction" column? Why were certain items placed there? After researching the "faction" items, were they more fact or more fiction?

3. Hand out the How Do You Know? sheets. On these pages, students should record one example of fact, one example of "faction," and one example of fiction from their group presentations and explain why they placed each example where they did.


  • Use the lesson "Fact or Fiction: Learning About Worms Using Diary of a Worm" to reinforce the concept of fact and fiction using another of Doreen Cronin's books that focuses on worms.

  • Post students' spider diaries on your class website or burn them to CDs and have students share them with reading buddies in younger grades.

  • Diary of a Spider includes a variety of examples of different writing genres including postcards. Have students use the Postcard Creator to make postcards written from the point of view of the spiders from their diaries. They can pretend to write and send these from various locations the spider was blown away to (like Grandpa Spider in the book).

  • Have students create a vivarium as detailed in the Creating a Spider Vivarium handout.

  • The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory: Lesson Focus offers additional lessons and activities related to spiders that you might choose to use with students.

Student Assessment / Reflections

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