Standards Correlations

R.1, R.3, R.4, R.5, R.7, W.2, SL.1, L.4, L.6

Learning Objective

Students will read about an inspiring teen and identify problem-and-solution relationships in the story.

Key Skills

problem and solution, text features, vocabulary, sequencing, cause and effect, compare and contrast, interpreting text, inference, critical thinking, making connections, informational writing

Complexity Factors

Purpose: The article describes how Michael discovered the joy of baking and how he’s giving back with his sweet creations.

Structure: The article is chronological and contains problem-solution structures.

Language: The article uses simple, direct language.  

Knowledge Demands: The article mentions epilepsy and homelessness. Some knowledge of how these conditions affect people is helpful but not required.


Lexile Level: 600L-700L

Guided Reading Level: Q

DRA Level: 40

Lesson Plan: Making Life a Little Sweeter

Essential Questions

  • How can we help others in our communities?
  • What is a hobby? How is it different from work?

Literature Connection

Novel: The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
Novel: Pie by Sarah Weeks

1. Preparing to Read 

Make a Connection (5 minutes) 

As a class, view the video “My Story: Michael Platt” . Ask students, “What do you have in common with Michael?”

Preview Text Features (5 minutes)

Have students open their magazines to page 20. Use the following questions to preview text features:

  • Read the article’s title and subtitle. What are the two meanings of the word “sweeter” in the title? One is the literal meaning, describing how something tastes. Michael bakes cupcakes, which taste sweet. The other meaning is about how he’s making a difference in people’s lives by sharing his cupcakes with them.
  • Look at the photos on page 16 and read the captions. What do you know about Michael based on the photos? We know that Michael has gained some fame for his desserts. He’s been on Good Morning America, and he has a popular Instagram account.

Preview Vocabulary (10 minutes)

  • Direct students to the vocabulary box on page 15 and go over the words (disorder, seizures, less fortunate, donates, discourage) and their definitions together.
  • Play the Vocabulary Slideshow

Make a Plan for Reading (5 minutes)

Before students start to read, walk them through a reading plan:

  • Set a purpose for reading: Tell students that after reading, they’ll identify cause-and-effect relationships in the story. Point out the activity on page 17.
  • Encourage students to pause at the end of each section so you can monitor their comprehension. Prompt them to underline sentences they think tell them important ideas in each section and to circle words or sentences they don’t understand.

2. Reading and Unpacking the Text

• Have students read the story independently. Play the audio with text-to-speech while students follow along in their magazines.
• As a class, discuss what students marked in the text. 
• Next, discuss the close-reading and critical-thinking questions. 

Close-Reading Questions (10 minutes)

  • How did Michael become interested in baking? (cause and effect) Michael became interested in baking after he found out he had epilepsy. He was upset because he would no longer be able to bike or do gymnastics. Then he baked a cake with his grandmother and his family “went wild.” That’s when he knew baking would be his new passion. 
  • How is Michael’s business different from other baking businesses? (compare and contrast) Michael donates a cupcake to a person in need for every cupcake he sells. For example, if he sells four cupcakes for $15, he delivers four cupcakes to groups that feed people in need. He also donates some of the money he earns to a group that provides meals to kids across the country.
  • What does Michael mean when he says we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover? (interpreting text) He means that you can’t know what someone’s life is like just by looking at them. He gives the example of a man in a suit who he saw in a park. His outfit suggested that he was well-off, but, in fact, he hadn’t eaten in three days. 

Critical-Thinking Questions (10 minutes)

  • Why do you think Michael was invited to share his story on Good Morning America? (inference) Michael’s story is unique and inspiring. He started his business after finding out bad news about his health. Instead of focusing on the negative, like the fact that he would have to give up his favorite physical activities, he looked for positives and created new opportunities—both for himself and others.
  • Michael loves bringing joy to people while doing something that’s fun for him. Think of a hobby or an activity you do (or could do) that helps other people. (making connections) Answers will vary. Encourage students to work together to brainstorm activities that benefit communities. Their suggestions can be as simple as playing on a sports team that brings people together, or more altruistic, like volunteering at a senior center.
  • Why do you think some people discourage Michael from running his business the way he does? (critical thinking) Sample answer: These people might have different priorities. Some may think that he’d be better off giving away less and keeping more for himself. Others may think that his business doesn’t do much good in the first place. In any case, it doesn’t matter what other people say because Michael enjoys the work he’s doing and knows he’s making a difference.

3. Skill Building

  • Separate students into small groups. Have them work together to complete the activity on page 17. 
  • Go further: Use our Sequence of Events Skill Builder (available in a higher and lower level version) for this article.
  • Writing Prompt: In order to bake, Michael reads recipes. Recipes tell you what ingredients to use and in what amounts, and they give step-by-step instructions. Think of a dish you know how to cook or bake, or a dish you love that someone in your family makes. Write down the recipe for it by listing the ingredients and the steps.

Learn-Anywhere Activity

An enrichment activity to extend the learning journey at home or in the classroom

Doing the Math 

At the end of the article, the author says that people sometimes try to discourage Michael and say that his business plans aren’t a good way to make money. Could they be right? Try this math problem: If the ingredients for a dozen (12) cupcakes cost $15, how much money will Michael have after he bakes two dozen, sells half, and gives the other half away?

Think about: 

  • how much Michael will spend on ingredients for two dozen cupcakes
  • how much Michael charges for four cupcakes ($15)
  • how many orders of four cupcakes make a dozen

ELL Springboard

Teach descriptive writing with everyone’s favorite subject: food!

At the beginning of the article, the author says that smelling Michael’s cupcakes would make you drool. Then she tells you that each cupcake is topped with sweet, fluffy frosting. 

Ask students to identify which senses the writer is using in her description (smell, sight, and taste). Then, ask them to think about their favorite food. After giving everyone a minute to imagine the food in all its mouth-watering glory, have them write how it smells, looks, and tastes (and sounds and feels too, if the mood strikes them).

You can review the following list of adjectives to help students with their writing:

  • buttery
  • crunchy
  • fruity
  • greasy
  • juicy
  • salty
  • spicy
  • crumbly
Looking for more ELL support? Download our full lesson plan and scroll to p. 5 to find questions that will help your ELLs respond to the text at the level that’s right for them.

Print This Lesson Plan