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Lesson Plan

Multiple Perspectives: Building Critical Thinking Skills

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Grades 4 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Eight–nine 30–40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Shannon Bradford

Shannon Bradford

Columbus, New Jersey


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



This lesson develops students' critical thinking skills through reading and interacting with multiple-perspectives texts. Students analyze selected texts, using metacognitive strategies such as visualizing, synthesizing, and making connections, to learn about multiple points of view. By studying Doreen Cronin's Diary of a Spider/Worm/Fly books, students develop a model for an original diary based on an animal of their choosing. Students conduct online research on their chosen animal and use the information gathered to create several diary entries from the perspective of that animal. Students' completed diaries are shared with the class and the larger school community.

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  • Fish Is Fish: This Leo Lionni book encourages students to use their skills in thinking from different perspectives.

  • Fish Is Fish Script: The script, written by the lesson author, contains original text from the book as well as some new additional text.

  • Doreen Cronin as Our Mentor: This printout summarizes the types of entries Doreen Cronin uses in her Diary of a Spider/Worm/Fly books and provides students with ideas and starting points for their own diary entries.

  • Websites for Research: A list of excellent, easy-to-navigate student-oriented websites that provide facts on all types of animals.

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Clarke, L.W., & Whitney, E. (2009). Walking in their shoes: Using multiple-perspectives texts as a bridge to critical literacy. The Reading Teacher, 62(6), 530–534.

  • As a result of state standards that require students to engage in critical and analytical thinking related to texts, teachers have been turning toward the notion of critical literacy to address such requirements. Though it is an educational buzz word, there is no clear definition of critical literacy, which creates difficulties for teachers who attempt to incorporate deep, critical thinking into their instruction but do not get much guidance from state standards as to how to design instruction.

  • Clarke and Whitney provide a three-part framework for incorporating critical literacy into the classroom: (1) Students start by digging beyond the surface of a text, deconstructing it, and then analyzing and interrogating the layers of meaning; (2) students take what they have learned from analyzing the text to reconstruct it and create new ways of thinking; and (3) by taking what they have learned from deconstructing and reconstructing the text, the students can connect to the larger world and even take social action.

  • Multiple-perspective books, which intentionally emphasize different viewpoints, help students develop critical thinking skills and learn how to see beyond their own lives to the world outside. Such books, coupled with Clarke and Whitney’s framework, help students to understand, visualize, and empathize with someone else’s struggles.

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