Unit 5: The Power of Friendship: Charlotte's Web
Students explore the meaning of true friendship by reading E.B. White's classic novel Charlotte's Web, examining its themes, setting, character and language, and learning to develop empathy for others.
In this unit, students will explore the meaning of true friendship by reading Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. Charlotte’s Web, a classic novel written in 1952, clearly illustrates how difficult and scary it can be to make a friend, yet how rewarding a true friendship really is. Over the course of the novel, students will consider what it means to be a good friend, whether or not friendship is always easy, and whether or not conflicts and struggle are an important part of strengthening friendships. By deeply connecting with the characters, students will learn about the power of helping others, how creativity and determination can help solve problems, and people can and do change. Students will also begin to understand the cycle of life and beauty, and the emotional responses that come with death through the eyes of Wilbur. It is our hope that this unit, in connection with other units, will provide the foundation for developing empathy and understanding about true friendship and life.
Charlotte’s Web was chosen not only because of the strong theme of friendship and life but because it is a classic in children’s literature. Charlotte’s Web was written in the early 1950s and contains messages and language that are more archaic than other texts in the sequence. Therefore, students will use what they learned in previous units about describing characters, determining messages, and character change to analyze messages, settings, characters, and language that are less familiar and relatable. The text also uses a lot of precise words and phrases to describe characters and settings, allowing students to analyze the author’s use of language while practicing how to determine the meaning of literal and nonliteral language in context. Since this is the culminating unit in the sequence, when discussing the text students focus on critiquing and analyzing the reasoning of others, using what they learned from previous units on how to clarify and share their thoughts and how to engage with the thinking of others to push the discussion to a deeper level. In this unit students also have multiple opportunities to write literary analysis/opinion paragraphs, using what they learned from previous units about topic sentences, supporting details, and elaboration.
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Book: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (HarperCollins Publishers, 2012)
Rubric: Grade 3 Literary Analysis and Opinion Writing Rubric
These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Download Cold Read Assessment
Download Cold Read Assessment Answer Key
Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit. Essential Tasks can be found in the following lessons:
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
To describe a character, readers must notice a character’s thoughts, actions, relationships, perspectives, and conflicts.
Characters change based on their relationships with others.
Authors use precise words and phrases to help readers understand the characters and setting.
State an opinion.
Provide reasons that support an opinion.
Use linking words and phrases to connect reasons with evidence.
Include a concluding statement.
Question and clarify. Seek to clarify a particular point a student makes by asking follow-up questions.
Build on and challenge partner’s ideas.
Synthesize to build deeper meaning. Synthesize everything from the discussion into a coherent statement at the end of the discussion.
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 5, view our 3rd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.
Defend an opinion about whether or not all members of the family have the same perspective about Wilbur.
Analyze how the author uses the details of chapter two to deepen a readers understanding of each family members perspective of Wilbur.
Explain how Wilbur’s interactions with the goose help the reader get a better understanding of who he is.
Writers combine sentences to make their writing more interesting.
Describe how E.B. White creates the feeling of loneliness.
Discussion & Writing
Describe Wilbur by closely reading a text, participating in a class discussion, and writing a well-organized paragraph to support an idea.
Analyze the significance of the words Wilbur uses to describe Charlotte and what this reveals about him.
Describe Templeton and how the others feel about him.
Explain different perspectives by analyzing different characters points of views and reactions to key events in a text.
Describe how Wilbur is feeling at the end of the chapter and why.
Describe Wilbur and Charlotte’s relationship by closely reading a text, participating in a class discussion, and writing a well-organized paragraph to support an idea.
Describe what terrible thing happened in the chapter and how it had a positive impact on the characters and the plot.
Describe how each character responds to the miracle and why they respond that way.
Explain why the animals want to save Wilbur.
Explain why the chapter is titled “Good Progress.”
Explain Fern’s mother’s perspective on Fern’s time in the barn and if Dr. Dorian has the same perspective.
Explain the significance of the chapter title “The Crickets”.
Analyze how Wilbur has changed and predict what Wilbur will do next.
Explain how Charlotte is changing and if Wilbur truly understands the change.
Explain how the fair has caused people to change and why.
Explain how everyone responds to the speech and why they respond that way.
Describe what happens to Charlotte at the fair ground and if she was lonely.
Explain how Wilbur continues to show his love and friendship for Charlotte even though she is no longer alive.
Determine the central message or lesson of Charlotte's Web and explain how it is conveyed through the key details in the text.
Opinion Writing – 2 days
Explain which character helped Wilbur the most using the best supporting details from the text.
Analyze and debate unit essential questions by stating a claim and supporting the claim with evidence from the entire unit.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.
— Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
— Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
— Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.
— Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
— Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others.
— Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.
— Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.
— Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.
— Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.
— Provide reasons that support the opinion.
— Provide a concluding statement or section.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning word and phrases based on grade 3 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
— Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known affix is added to a known word (e.g., agreeable/disagreeable, comfortable/uncomfortable, care/careless, heat/preheat).
— Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships (e.g., After dinner that night we went looking for them).
— Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
— Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
— Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
— Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.
— Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.
— Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).
— By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 2—3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
— Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
— Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.
— With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.
(Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1—3 above.)
— With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
— Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
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