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Lesson Plan

Building a Matrix for Leo Lionni Books: An Author Study

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Building a Matrix for Leo Lionni Books: An Author Study

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Renee Goularte

Renee Goularte

Magalia, California


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



In this author study, students listen to four books by author Leo Lionni over the course of four days. Each reading is followed by discussion focusing on literary elements and comparing characters and plots. After discussion, students participate in creating and organizing information on a large matrix which depicts the main elements of that day's story. During the week, the matrix helps students review and retell each story and to compare details of two or more stories at a time. On the final day of this lesson, individual students choose any two books to compare using a Venn diagram.

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Interactive Venn Diagram: Students use this online tool to compare and contrast the details of two books. The tool can also be used to organize ideas for a compare and contrast essay.

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Engaging students in making text-to-text connections through classroom discussion can contribute to a deeper comprehension of stories. As Joy Moss explains, "Through genuine dialogue, teachers and students collaborate as they respond to literature, explore possibilities, and construct meanings together. These literary conversations offer students opportunities to discover new ways to think about literary texts, to enrich their own responses as readers, and to extend their language competence. The invitation to 'think out loud' in the context of these literary conversations provides students with the opportunity to practice the strategies that readers use to build understanding in response to literary texts" (7).

Gambrell and Almasi similarly address the importance of discussing texts to increase comprehension in Lively Discussions! Fostering Engaged Reading. It follows that engaging students in making text-to-text connections can contribute to a deeper comprehension of stories. Additionally, comparing a series of texts by one author can help students identify an author's tendencies of plot and character relationships, giving them tools for making predictions as they read books in the future.

Further Reading

Moss, Joy. 2002. Literary Discussion in the Elementary School. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Read more about this resource


Gambell, Linda B., and Janice F. Almasi, eds. 1996. Lively Discussions! Fostering Engaged Reading. Newark, DE: IRA.

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