Regan and her class sing a song about the structure that they will follow as they draft a paragraph based on textual evidence. Students then apply this song as they compose a paragraph about an article they read as a class. Singing helps students to engage with and internalize the rubric, as well as addresses the needs of multiple learning types.
Before I let them do their own paragraph about Jack Prelutsky, I share that I want to create a paragraph with them about Robert Frost. This is a biography. By doing this together, the class will be more capable of creating their own paragraph. So, I give each child a copy of the text, and I project it on the Smartboard. Then I read the text three times to the class, and they follow along. I am exposing them to a complex text, but scaffolding with reading it aloud multiple times while they follow along. Then I share the criteria for writing a paragraph. I just made a little song up (see the video in the resources). So I explain it, and we sing it. This just lets my class know what we are creating. One thing I love about small children is that they really don't care if you can carry a tune or sing at all. They just enjoy the fun moments, and I put a video of my song in the resources.
Before the students talk to their partner about the main idea, I try to provide some support so they get it right. Finding the main idea can be challenging for students, and I find that many students talk about the topic or a detail. So, I talk to the class about the main idea and reference some previous main ideas we found. I state that it is not a topic or a detail. It relates to the big idea and specific content the author is talking about. Two of my questions are, "Who are they talking about?" and "What did he do that was important?" Then I ask them to focus on the title and use it to help you come up with the main idea. After about one minute, one volunteer shares their thoughts. The rest of the class engages in a discussion, by adding too, disagreeing, or agreeing. Then, I add the main idea to the first sentence of our paragraph on the board. Now, we need to get at least three details from the text to support the main idea. I ask the student to talk about the details that support the main idea, and underline them in the text. Then several students share the ideas about the details. After each child shares others agree or disagree, and I add the final decision of the class to our paragraph. I am modeling correct writing. Once we have three details, the students discuss a closing sentence. After they agree on a closing sentence, I add it to the board. I usually say, "If you agree show me thumbs up." This way everyone is participating.
Amy teaches her students to use the RACE method to write a paragraph to cite evidence from the text. Amy first models for her students each part of the RACE protocol using a focus question. Students work together to find evidence within the text to support their answer to the focus question. Students share out their evidence and Amy projects it using the document camera. After whole-class practice, students try the strategy independently.