Chris Adcock
English Language Arts, Composition and Rhetoric
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Assessment
  • Grade 11 ELA
  • Writing
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Visual Representation

    Visual Representation


    In this lesson, students will consider the difference between a theme and amain idea and create a visual representation comparing your two texts. Finally, they'll talk about why and how you can cite evidence from texts.

    In this lesson, students will consider the difference between a theme and amain idea and create a visual representation comparing their two texts. Finally, they’ll talk about why and how they can cite evidence from texts.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.

    Theme Versus Main Idea

    • Circulate and provide guidance as students discuss their homework responses in pairs.
    • Conduct a Whole Group Share. Encourage students to talk about the functional differences between narrative and informational pieces, but also to notice the similarities in messages.
    • ELL: If you have ELL students who struggled with the difference between theme and main idea, this is a good opportunity to meet with them and check their understanding.


    With a partner, discuss the ideas you wrote about for homework.

    • What similarities did you see between these two pieces?
    • What differences did you see?
    • Did you think that one was more effective in conveying its message than the other? Why or why not?

    Share your thoughts with the class.

    A Visual Comparison

    • Students may need a review of the terms genre, irony , andpoint of view .
    • The visual portion of this activity is purposely non-prescriptive so that the students have to figure out how best to compare the texts and what kind of organizer to use. Form a group of the students who will need more support with this activity and work with them as a member of their group.
    • If your students need more structure, assign specific tasks to group members; one or two students can approach each bullet of the student directions.
    • For groups that can handle more intensive analysis, ask them whether they think the narrators in these texts are neutral bystanders or whether they ever interject an opinion. Have students go into the texts to identify specific evidence for their point of view.
    • If you have preferences about how students can present their projects and/or time requirements, let them know now.
    • SWD: For some students, creating a visual representation will be an easy task; for others, it may be more challenging. Work with those students to assess whether this task is at an appropriate level of difficulty and be prepared to offer alternative methods of demonstrating understanding, whether written, spoken, or using a pre-provided graphic organizer for structure.

    Work Time

    Your teacher will put you into a small group. With your group, work together to compare and contrast the two texts, “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Proven Power of Giving, Not Getting,” using a visual representation.

    • First, brainstorm the similarities and differences of how these two texts approach the theme.
      • How does the genre influence them?
      • Where do you see irony in the short story? Identify specific lines. How does that irony support the theme?
      • What do you notice about the point of view of the story versus the article?
    • Then, decide what kind of visual display you want to use and get started!
    • You’ll be presenting your visual representation at the end of the lesson, so make sure to stay on task.

    Visual Comparison Presentations

    • Review the schedule of presentations that was developed at the close of the previous lesson.
    • Have each group present and explain its organizer. Pose some questions such as the following. How did you pick a graphic for your comparison? What does this part mean? Encourage students to ask questions.
    • There will be several correct and interesting ways to compare the articles. Work on having students practice the language of making comparisons. ELL: To better support these students as they develop their academic vocabulary, capture words and phrases that can be used for other assignments that involve comparison.

    Work Time

    Share your group’s visual comparison of “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Proven Power of Giving, Not Getting.” Pay close attention to your classmates’ presentations.

    Then, participate in a Whole Group Discussion and consider these questions.

    • How does your group’s organizer compare to the other groups’? Are there any differences that surprise you or are hard for you to understand?
    • What did other groups do well that your own group didn’t think about? Did another group notice an important detail? Did another group use a good visual technique?
    • Do you have any questions for the other groups about their presentation?

    Citing Evidence

    • Students will need to have the vocabulary for citing the text. This exercise is intended to scaffold their writing short responses, constructed responses, and essays.
    • Create a class Citation Strategies chart that includes the following categories.
      • ✓ Quote from the text.
      • ✓ Summarize a part of the text.
      • ✓ Point to a specific part of the text.
      • ✓ Give a specific paragraph or line in a poem.
      • ✓ Add any other useful techniques that come up during discussion.
    • If your students find this too abstract, offer some sentence frames such as:
      • ✓ In the second (stanza/paragraph/chapter) the poet/writer/reporter indicates that.
      • ✓ The lines in the poem that make me think are.
      • ✓ Three words/actions/details that give clues to the theme/main idea are , , and _.
    • Ask students to take notes.

    Work Time

    Look back at your paragraph about the theme of “The Gift of the Magi” that you wrote in Lesson 1.

    • How did you refer to the story to support your claim about giving and receiving?
    • What strategies did you use to reference the text?

    Open Notebook

    Participate in a Whole Group Share about your citation techniques and pay attention to the strategies that your classmates and teacher share.

    Citation Reflection

    • After students write, ask for volunteers to respond to the prompt orally.
    • Be sure to elicit that we cite evidence to convince other readers and to demonstrate that we are basing our ideas on what the text actually says.

    Work Time

    Complete a Quick Write.

    • How does citing textual evidence when you write about the theme or main idea strengthen your position?

    Open Notebook

    Share your thoughts with the class.