First Grade Exemplar
By Janell Cannon
Unit: Three
Learning Objective:
The objective is to give first grade students an opportunity to explore complex text. Through teacher
read aloud and scaffold discussion of text-dependent questions and vocabulary words, students will gain
content information from close reading. Writing as a response to literature will assist with further
understanding of what is read.
Reading Task:
The students will listen to the teacher read the text aloud in its entirety at least one time. The teacher
will reread the text to have students clarify the meaning of what they read. The teacher will ask
questions and ask for student’s ideas and thoughts to guide them through purposeful interaction with
the text.
Discussion/Language Task:
Through the use of a series of text-dependent questions, the students will be guided to look at text
closely and engage in thinking that will deepen their understanding.
Writing Task:
The birds say, “How can we be so different and feel so much alike?” Use details from the text to explain
the differences between birds and bats.
Common Core State Standards that are addressed in this unit:
RL.1.1, RL.1.2, RL.1.3, RL.1.4, RL.1.5, RL.1.6, RL.1.7, RL.1.9. RL.1.10
RI.1.1, RI.1.2, RI.1.3, RI.1.4, RI.1.5, RI.1.6, RI.1.7, RI.1.8, RI.1.9, RI.1.10
RF.1.1, RF.1.2, RF.1.3, RF.1.4
W.1.1, W.1.2, W.1.3, W.1.5, W.1.6, W.1.7, W.1.8
SL.1.1a-c, SL.1.2, SL.1.3, SL.1.4, SL.1.5, SL.1.6
L.1.1a-j, L.1.2, L.4a-c, L.1.5a-d, L.1.6
Formative Checkpoints:
Turn and Talk
Journal Entries
Exit Ticket
Literacy Structure/Components:
Interactive Read-Aloud, Small Group Instruction/Guided Reading and Independent Reading
Teacher Instructions
Preparing for Teaching
1. Read the Big Ideas and Key Understandings and the Synopsis. Please do not read this to the
students. This is a description for teachers about the big ideas and key understanding that students
should take away after completing this task.
Big Ideas and Key Understandings
In friendship, the things you have in common are more important than your differences.
A baby bat named Stellauna is separated from her mother. She is adopted by a family of birds
and adapts to their behaviors. When she is reunited with her mom, she realizes that she is a bat
but still remains friends with the bird family.
2. Read the entire selection, keeping in mind the Big Ideas and Key Understandings.
3. Re-read the text while noting the stopping points for the Text Dependent Questions and teaching
Tier II/academic vocabulary.
During Teaching
1. Students read the entire selection independently.
2. Teacher reads the text aloud while students follow along or students take turns reading aloud to
each other. Depending on the text length and student need, the teacher may choose to read the full
text or a passage aloud. For a particularly complex text, the teacher may choose to reverse the order
of steps 1 and 2.
3. Students and teacher re-read the text while stopping to respond to and discuss the questions,
continually returning to the text. A variety of methods can be used to structure the reading and
discussion (i.e., whole class discussion, think-pair-share, independent written response, and group
Text Dependent Questions
Text-dependent Questions
Where does the Mother Bat live? (Page 5)
What happened when the owl spied Mother
Bat and her baby? (Page 6)
Evidence-based Answers
The Mother Bat lives in a sultry, warm forest.
The powerful bird swooped down upon the bats. Mother
Bat tried to escape by dodging and shrieking and Stellaluna
was knocked into the air.
Her baby wings were as limp and useless as wet paper.
A simile is a comparison using like or as. Find
the simile on page 6.
How did Stellaluna feel as she was caught in the She wrapped her wings about her, clutched the thin branch,
branches? (Page 8)
trembling with cold and fear.
Why did Stellaluna hang out of sight below the
nest? (Page 10)
How did Stellaluna learn to be like the birds?
(Page 14)
The author wrote, “The birds clamored back in
to the nest, but Mama bird stopped Stellaluna.”
Explain in your own words what the word
clamored means. (Page 16)
Why did Stellaluna think she was like the three
birds? (Page 18)
Stellaluna didn’t know where she was and was listening to
the babble of the three birds.
She stayed awake all day and slept at night. She ate bugs
even though they tasted awful. Her bat ways were quickly
The birds made a lot of noise getting back into the nest.
(teacher accepts all possible answers related to the
definition of clamor—to utter loudly or make noise)
They all jumped from the nest and were able to fly.
Look at the illustrations on page 21 and 23,
how does Stellaluna’s landing differ from the
birds landing?
Stellaluna is not able to land smoothly on a branch like the
birds do. She tries different ways but keeps falling off.
How did meeting the other bats help Stellaluna
realize who she truly is? (Page 30)
The bat told her that she was hanging upside down, bats
hang by their feet and she was hanging by her thumb. The
bat states, “Wrong for a bird, maybe, but not for a bat.”
Why did the author italicize the words bugs and
night on page 32?
The author italicizes these words to place emphasis to show
how these actions are not typical for a bat.
Why did the author italicize the words owl and
Stellaluna on page 32?
The author italicizes these words to show that Mother Bat
realizes that Stellaluna survived the owl attack.
On page 37 why did the illustrator draw beams
coming from Stellaluna’s eyes?
Stellaluna could see in the dark. She felt as though rays of
light shone from her eyes.
Why did Stellaluna have to rescue Pip, Flitter,
and Flap? (Page 42)
What is the mystery that Flap refers to?
(Page 44)
The birds tried to fly at night and leapt from a tree. They
realized they couldn’t see anything and they were going to
crash. Stellaluna grabbed them in the air and lifted them to
a tree.
They feel so different but they are so much alike.
Tier II/Academic Vocabulary
not enough contextual clues provided
in the text
Page 5 – sultry
Page 6 – swooped
Page 6 – limped
Page 10 – clamored
Page 30 – peculiar
Page 44 – perched
sufficient context clues are provided
in the text
Words addressed with a question or task
Page 5 – crooned
Page 5 – clutched
Page 8 – tangle
Page 8 – trembling
Page 10 – babble
Page 34 – survived
General teaching suggestions are provided
in the Introduction
Page 6 – dodging
Page 6 – shrieking
Page 26 – anxious
Page 14 – curious
Page 24 – clumsy
Page 28 – ached
Page 32 – stuttered
Page 32 – gasped
Page 32 – murmured
Culminating Writing Task
The birds say, “How can we be so different and feel so much alike?” Use details from the text to explain
the differences between birds and bats.
Teacher Instructions:
1. Students identify their writing task from the prompt provided.
2. Students complete an evidence chart as a pre-writing activity. Teachers should guide
students in gathering and using any relevant notes they compiled while reading and
answering the text-dependent questions earlier. Some students will need a good deal of
help gathering this evidence, especially when this process is new and/or the text is
Sample Answer:
Birds and bats are similar, yet different in many ways. Birds and bats can fly. Birds fly during the day and
sleep at night. Bats sleep during the day and fly at night. Birds perch on branches while bats sleep
hanging by their feet. Bats can see at night. Birds eat bugs, for example, grasshoppers. Fruit bats eat
fruit, such as mangoes.
Additional Tasks
Using the pencil drawings from the text retell the story from Mother Bat’s point of view.
Answer: Mother Bat was searching for food with her baby Stellaluna. She encountered an owl
that attacked Mother Bat and her baby. She fought the owl and hid in the cave. Once the owl
went away Mother Bat began to look for Stellaluna. She looked in leaf piles, in trees, in tall
grass, in holes in the ground, in a tree log, and underwater. After long night of not finding
Stellaluna, Mother Bat went to sleep. Then she hears voices and flies over to see Stellaluna
hanging upside down. She hugs Stellaluna. She found her baby. They fly off together in the night
and eat fruit.
Discuss and then write about the friendship between Stellaluna and the birds. Will this
friendship last? What might get in the way of them continuing the friendship?
Discuss and then write about what might have happened to Stellaluna and the birds if Stellaluna
had not found her mother. Do you think that Stellaluna would have tried to continue behaving
like a bird? Why or why not? Would the birds have tried to behave like bats? Would Stellaluna
have returned to her bat ways as she got older?
Note to Teacher
After the first reading, focus students’ attention on the pencil drawings above the text on each page.
These drawings tell the story from the point of view of Stellaluna’s mother.