The Beverly Cleary Book Festival

A Differentiated Instruction Unit

by Kathy Ward-Bowen and Michaela Gardner


1. Overview

a. Big Idea: The big idea for this unit was to hold a Beverly Cleary Book Festival. The class was familiar with some of Cleary's books and the interest level was high in the class to read more of her works. The goal was to engage the children in book talks. Teacher modeling had already been done with the class. The children would now take over the facilitator roles in their book talks. Groups would be decided by student self-selection of four Cleary books.

b. Essential Question(s):

1.     Can the students self select appropriate reading material and respond to it through the pedagogy of differentiated instruction?

2.     Can the students display appropriate behavior as facilitators in book talk groups?

3.     Can the students make Text-Text, Text-Self? And Text-World connections in their readings?

4.     Can the students self evaluate the unit?

         c. Timeline: The unit is designed to run for five days 

per week for a three week period.


2. Performance Standards Met:

         Language Arts

                  Reading E1a, E1b, E1d

                  Writing E2b, E2d

                  Speaking E3a, E3b, 

                  Conventions, Grammar, and Usage of EnglishE4a, 


         Mathematics M1a, Geometry M2c, M2f, M2h

National Educational Technology Standards 1,3, 4, 5,6,

                  Science S8c, 

                  Information Tools and TechniquesA3a, A3b


3. Curriculum Connections

This Beverly Cleary Festival is an example of Differentiated Instruction Unit. The integrated unit crossed many curriculum areas, mainly used as a Language Arts unit. Other areas of the curriculum integrated into this unit are reading, writing, listening, speaking, mathematics, art, science, and social studies.


4. Pre-Assessment

A reading interest inventory was distributed to the class. (See sample)This inventory was used to gain insight into how the children feel about reading.The students then did a Learning Profile. (See sample) The profile was used to help the children self select partners for book talks and Think Tac Toes.


5. Hook, Line and Sinker:

                  To engage the children in this unit, the class was offered a selection of Beverly Cleary books at different reading levels. The books chosen reflected the information gained from the Learning Profiles done by the children.The class had previously discussed award-winning authors, of which Beverly Cleary was one. Each child was allowed to pick the two books they wished to read. While some books were easier for some students, no effort was made to persuade them to choose a more difficult book. Students who choose a book slightly beyond their reading level were told that they had the support of the book talk group when doing the readings. Groupings were done by the children themselves from information gathered off the Ramona Total Talent Profile. Students looked at fellow classmates heads to determine who shared similar working habits.


6. How will they learn?  The Multiple Intelligences.

         The unit was designed to allow for a wide variety of ways in which the student could acquire and then display their gained knowledge. Below are the Multiple Intelligences targeted for this unit.          

* Naturalist- make a pictionary of 5 different kinds of

cats. (Socks) 

* Interpersonal- Pretend you are Maggie's teacher. Describe

ways you would use to change her behavior. (Muggie


* Intrapersonal- Ramona Total Talent Profile

* Visual Spatial- Use Kidpix to make a slide show on how

to teach cursive writing. (Muggie Maggie)

* Verbal Linguistic- Book Talk Groups (All books)

* Logical Mathematical- Design a floor plan of the Brickers

house based upon details given in the book. (Socks)

* Bodily-Kinesthetic- Pantomime your favorite part of a 

in the book. (All books)

* Musical- Make up a song about the book or an exciting 

part to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star 

                  (Ramona and Her Father)


7. Lessons:


a. Task


The students were engaged daily in self selected reading from a classroom library of Beverly Cleary books. This allowed for a variety of groupings each day. Students had control over what they read and whom they worked with. Each day they were asked to place their name under the book they were reading. They then read a minimum of one chapter a day. Before reading began, each student was assigned a job to do at the literature circle. The jobs allowed for the students to keep in mind as they read their role in circle. The goal was for the teachers to act as facilitators, and listen in at circle time, not to lead the discussion. Some of the jobs were funny finder, word wizard, questioner, predictor, scene setter, and literature link. The children were given a choice board were they selected activities each day. The standard was that at least one activity should be writing and recorded in their Festival journal. After reading the required 2 books, they selected a book to do a Think Tac Toe on.       


b. Differentiation:


The unit we designed was based on the ideas that students should have multiple choices in learning. Choice boards were used each day, and were differentiated to insure the activities were meeting the needs of all the children, from those receiving remedial reading to advanced readers. We used flexible groupings where the students who needed extra help reading a chapter met with the teachers whenever they needed. Group sizes differed depending on the book selected. Those students, who felt comfortable, could read on to other chapters. The choice boards were designed so that multiple intelligences were included. The minimum standards were set each day, but those who wanted to do more were encouraged to do So.  As a result, all of the students had read two books at the end of the three weeks, where others had read all four. After reading two of the Beverly Cleary novels, the students completed a Think-Tac-Toe on their preferred book.


c. Rubric: View PDF version


Think-Tac-Toe Rubric






Information is very accurate

Information is accurate

Information is somewhat accurate

Information is brief and has few facts

Product is very neat (lines are drawn with a ruler, words neatly written)

Product is mostly neat

Product is somewhat neat

Product is messy

Spelling & grammar are perfect

Spelling & grammar are mostly accurate

Spelling & grammar are somewhat accurate

Spelling & grammar have several errors

Product is eye-catching

Product reflects good effort at presentation

Product reflects some effort at presentation

Product reflects little effort at presentation

Product clearly teaches what you wanted to show about _________

Product somewhat teaches what you wanted to show about ____

Product is unable to fully show what you wanted to show about _______

Your product about __________ is unclear




d. Process:


Before the Festival began, every student had sampled some of Beverly Cleary's work. The teacher had read The Day Mr. Henshaw. Each student had read a sample of her work. either in a basal series, as part of the Battle of the Books, as their choice reading and as a whole class reading of an interview with Beverly Cleary by Lee Bennett Hopkins. The teacher tried to create a buzz concerning this author.


The goal was that book discussions would be held around this one author. The reading teacher and the classroom teacher met to decide on which books were to be used in the Festival. The books were limited to four choices but extra samples of her work were offered for extended reading.


Books Used for Festival: Muggie Maggie, Ramona and her Father, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, and Socks.

Extended Reading Books: Ellen Tibbitts, Henry & Beezus, Henry & the Paper Route, Ramona's World, and Ramona the Pest.


A schedule of activities was developed. Choice boards were developed and a definition of roles during book discussions were explained and modeled in class. Think Tac Toes were written keeping in mind the specific standards and the Multiple Intelligences. The students completed learner Profiles using the Ramona Stencil. The children self- selected their books, reviewed the Choice boards and kept a reflection journal. Book discussions jobs were rotated daily and all students were required to have a job and participate in the discussion groups. A cubing activity was done with the remedial reading group to help facilitate language development in that group. Each book group was required to read at least one chapter per day but if a student wished to read further, they could As the students finished one book, they began their next choice from the available books.


After all their books were read, each student filled in the name of their favorite book on Ramona's necklace. Think Tac Toes were then chosen based upon their book choice.


At the completion of the three week Festival, the students shared portions of their portfolios with the class.


e. Materials


* Beverly Cleary books: (Socks, Muggie Maggie, Ramona and Her Father, Ramona Quimby, age 8)

* Computers

* Graph paper

* Construction paper

* Writing paper

* Graphic organizers: Venn diagrams, Story Pyramids, Character Comparison chart)

* Fad sheet

* Cookbooks

* Pencils/ crayons/ markers

* Think Tac Toes

* Story Cubes

* Ramona Total Talent Profile

* Rubric

* Reading Interest Survey

* Student Evaluation

* Journals

* Text Signs: Text to Self, Text to Book, Text to World

* Library Use


f. Specific Standards : see standards above


g. Technology Integration


The unit was structured so that technology could be incorporated into many different parts of the tasks the students might choose to do. The Think Tac Toe boards offered choices involving Web research, Power Point demonstrations, Kid Pix, and Graph Club, for setting up graphs.


h. Assessment


The children chose each day from an activity board choice list. After reading a section of their chosen books, they would then complete their selected activities. Each day these finished responses were handed in and the teacher reviewed them to track the progress of each student. The class also did Think Tac Toes. These were handed in at the end of each finished book and reviewed by the teacher to check on understanding of the story, vocabulary and making extensions into new areas. At the completion of the unit, the class filled out an evaluation form. These evaluations were reviewed and graphed (see evaluation form)


8. Final Assessment


 The final assessment used for this unit was a Think Tac Toe project. Each child completed a Think Tac Toe for each book they read. These Think Tac Toes incorporated the Multiple Intelligences and were differentiated. This allowed each student to best select the manner in which they wished to display their acquired knowledge from the texts. The students shared their projects with the class,


9. Final Project/ Culminating Event


Due to a time issue, we were not able to implement a final event we had hoped to do with the class. Next time we do this unit, we would culminate with a Tea and Book Share Evening for parents. Each child would (if they chose to) dress up as their favorite character from one of the Beverly Cleary books they had chosen to read. They would then present to the audience 1 or 2 pieces from their Think Tac Toes. The children would serve tea and cookies to the parents as the presentations take place.


As a final part of this project the students shared their Think Tac Toes with the class. The students were also asked to complete an evaluation of the unit. (View PDF) This evaluation was done to assess whether the students enjoyed this type of learning activity, how they felt about choosing their own books, and whether they felt it would be beneficial to do again. The results showed that they felt it would be worthwhile to do again. The majority enjoyed selecting their own reading books and completing the Think Tac Toes. (For further information see evaluation graph)



Ramona Color Code

Think Tac Toes



Evaluation Graphs