Overview: Free friendship and the impact of first impressions lesson plan. Introduce some of the major themes present in Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, including the power of friendship and the way we form first impressions.
Subject: ELA: Reading: Literature
Grades: 4th, 5th, 6th
Duration: 1 hour
Related Concepts: Elements of Plot, Friendship, Peer Relationships, Literary Themes
Students will be able to:
- Apply the literary themes of Freak the Mighty to their own lives and friendships with a gallery walk and class discussion.
- Use their experiences with first impressions in an anticipation guide for Freak the Mighty.
Essential Questions: What are the qualities of a good friend? How can I be a good friend? Can trusting first impressions affect a potential friendship?
Vocabulary: friendship, first impression, opinion, prejudice, character traits
Common Core Standards Addressed:
- ELA: Reading Literature
- Reading Passage(s)
- Photographs of people, objects, animals, etc. for students to make first impressions
- Paper clips
- Internet access
- Projection system
- Audio equipment
Watch a preschool video about making friends. Then ask students if making friends has changed since they were in preschool.
Explain that today's focus is on understanding the importance of friendship and what makes a good friend. First, have students brainstorm why friendship is important. How do friends help us?
Then use the friendship skills information to help students fill in the gaps of their list. Create a list to display in the classroom while students are brainstorming. Students can create a list for their notes either in a notebook, on a handout, or on a sheet of paper they will keep in their folder.
Guided Practice: Use the first activity on pages 8-9. Read the poem; have students explain why they want or don't want Harvey to be their friend based on what he does (character traits). Then use activity 1 on page 11 to illustrate the connection created with friendship. It uses paper clips. Brainstorm how the connection can help us (consider bringing in heavy items to hang from a single paper clip until it bends and then from the two connected paper slips side by side until they begin to bend).
Use the second activity found on pages 8 and 10. Have students evaluate the qualities they possess. You can create a wall in the classroom where the jewels list qualities students' strengths and then the opposite wall contains the jewels showing the qualities they want to improve.
Session 2: Impressions
Place pictures around the room that are zoomed in and have students tell you what they think it is or what their first impression is. These can be images taken from science, photographs of people, places, objects, etc. where the students would essentially be "tricked" and their first impressions or interpretations would be incorrect once they had the context of the entire image. Begin with students using post-it notes to go around to 2-3 pictures and write down what they think then show them the full or larger image and ask:
Were you correct?
Why do you think you weren't correct?
Have you ever experienced thinking one thing about a person, a place, or a class and then finding out you were wrong?
Students use first impressions to decide what they think about various statements as an anticipation guide to reading Freak the Mighty.
Additional statements about friends and appearances can be added to the list or can be used to replace some of the statements currently on the list.
Have learners complete exit tickets in which they describe a time when their first impressions of a person or situation was incorrect.
- Check for completion of anticipation guide, participation in gallery walk, and exit tickets.
Provide sentence starters and word bank for English learners.
Have advanced readers read the first part of the book independently and periodically reflect on how the theme of friendship is presented.
Create posters about friends and the problem with first impressions to post around the school.
Show a short video and evaluate the characters' friendship qualities as well as the use of first impressions, and how they hurt or helped the characters in the story.
Make connections to bullying through a group project or anti-bullying posters.