Grade 1: Determining the Central Message or Lesson of a Story


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Reading Literature

RL.1.2 Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.


This Grade 1 lesson titled “Determining the Central Message or Lesson of a Story” from the Pennsylvania Department of Education has an estimated ELA/Literacy instructional time of two 60-minute class periods. The lesson introduces the concept of theme (central message or lesson) with a teacher read aloud and a graphic organizer. With appropriate support, students learn to: define the terms central message or lesson, identify key details that lead the reader to the central message or lesson of a story, and identify the central message or lesson of a literary text. Students are assessed throughout the lesson by their verbal responses and participation. As a culminating activity, students are given the opportunity to individually (or in pairs) read a text at their own reading level and complete the Central Message Organizer (using the group read aloud book’s organizer as a guide). They then share and explain their work with someone who read a different book followed by 3-4 students sharing with the whole class.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that the read aloud text is not included in the lesson plan, and  enough literary texts for each student to have one at his/her reading level is required as part of the culminating activity. The Pennsylvania Core Standard listed in the lesson plan correlates to the Common Core Standard listed above.  The lesson plan indicates only one targeted reading standard; however, students are involved in speaking, listening, and writing activities as well.


The lesson plan is an exemplary example of how to provide all students with opportunities to engage with a text of appropriate complexity for the grade level with the necessary scaffolding. It includes a clear and explicit purpose for instruction as it makes reading a text closely, examining textual evidence, and discerning deep meaning a central focus.  Instruction cultivates student interest and engagement in reading, writing, and speaking.  Ongoing teacher observation included throughout the lesson elicits direct, observable evidence of the degree to which each student is mastering the standards-based content and skills.