Pose the question: Why do some students misbehave at school?
Give students time to copy the question in their reading notebook, and think about it.
Have the students write at least 5 sentences on the prompt.
After writing, have students Pair-Share and discuss their thoughts.
While they are sharing I walk around with a clip board and record student answers with their name next to it. This is my favorite strategy for touchy topics where someone may want to mention a student’s name who misbehaves and exactly what he or she does.
I record answers that are on topic and promote discussion. Of course, I can’t get around to everyone, but I promise I will eventually. I share my “script”using my document camera, but it could also be read aloud. Students love to see their words with their name up on the board.
The purpose of this activity is to hook the readers into the story “Charles” that is about a boy who misbehaves in kindergarten. As the students read, I will be asking them to generate questions. Good readers are constantly asking and answering questions as they read. It is so difficult to get students into the habit of asking good questions. So often after reading a piece, I will ask "Any questions?" and I can hear crickets chirping. Hello? Anyone? Questioning is a skill that must be modeled and practiced in order to become a habit.
The first time students read a story, I often read it aloud and ask them to follow along being active listeners. This means that they have a pen out and are annotating as we go. I find that me reading it frees them up to write more. I like to read aloud to them so that they can gain understanding by listening to the way I read it. My fluency and intonation can help them understand main concepts even if some of the vocabulary is unfamiliar.
Although there is not an official fluency standard associated with 6th grade, it is still a crucial component of reading. If a student is fluent, I feel like they are on automatic pilot. The act of reading in a fluent reader has become so natural that the brain is freed up to comprehend and question. They no longer have to think about decoding and pronouncing the words. The actual reading of the words becomes second nature. Some sixth graders have definitely mastered this skill, but early on in the year, most of my students can still use a little modeling and practice in this area.
I usually emphasize unfamiliar words because many students claim they know all of the words. I tell them to circle words they would not normally use.
The first time I ever had students annotate like this, they were reluctant to begin. The first few times I use these 3 markings, I model and think aloud. I say things like, "Oh, it seems like the author gave us a little clue about the character's personality there when she said that Charles shrugged elaborately, so I will put a star there." or "Hmmm...I have hear this word before, but I surely don't use it on a regular basis, so I will circle it.
My advice is to be consistent, and use simple symbols. I almost always give my students a xeroxed copy of the story so that they feel free to write all over it. With modeling and practice they will become skilled at picking up on key parts of the text.
Just a side note, I consider this different from the "close and careful reading" promoted in common core. I feel that a close reading is diving a little deeper and looking more carefully at words. I almost always have my students read a piece more than once, and this active reading guide helps them interact with a text from the very beginning.
When we finish, I ask them to generate questions with a partner. At this point, I accept all questions. Some might be vocabulary questions, and some might be unanswerable. I record all of the questions in some way. I might write them or have students write them and show on the document camera. This activity provides closure to the students and allows me to gage their initial understanding of the text. My ultimate goal is for the students to be able to cite textual evidence. A prerequisite to citing evidence is questioning. Questioning forces them to interact with the text and search for support for the answers.
I will chose one of their questions and have them do a quick write on it in their reading notebook. For example, "Why did Laurie invent Charles?" The quick write is 5 minutes and it just a way for them to get their ideas down on paper before they leave my class.
After the quick write, I ask them to share with a partner and listen closely because when they share with the class, they will only share out what someone else says. They must also give their partner credit for the comment. For example, Katelyn told me that Laurie invented Charles because he wanted attention at home. In my opinion, this practice helps student listen to their peers. It seems that sixth graders are quick to tell me what they think, but giving someone else credit is much more difficult. In CCSS SL6.1, students must be able to be good speakers AND listeners! I think I have my work cut out for me!