To begin this lesson I ask students to pair up with their elbow buddy. Once in a pair I ask them to talk to each other about what they do before they read a fiction book? I have them make a bridge with their hands to show they both have shared with each other. I call on one group to share. I then continue to ask them what they do before reading a magazine, a book, a math book, and non-fiction book? I continue with the bridge and share process.
In this lesson I also introduce note taking. I pass out lined paper to each student and have them fold it into thirds. I have them label each section before, during, and after.
Today we are focusing only on the before reading. All of our notes and ideas will be written into this section. One way to take notes is to use bullets. I review bullets as a text feature.
For the actual lesson I use the Promethean Board to add my notes and model how to take notes.To get them excited I like to do some fun acting. I get out a book and act like a fourth grader. I over exaggerate what it feels like when the nonfiction book I am about to read is too hard. This gets their attention. I then explain that as a teacher I can help them make their book easier. We can make it easier just by doing some before reading steps. I ask them if they believe that I am telling the truth.
To begin, I am focusing my notes on the acronym PAWS. Beginning with P, I ask my students to write down Purpose. We are then going to create bullets for what each letter is in the steps to before reading. I say something like, "Bullets are a way for me to see each note that is important to know or remember." Purpose is why I need to read this nonfiction book. Is it to make a decision, help create something, to help me, or to give me information. For bullets I just write decide, help, create, and information.
Along each step of the way I like to ask them for their feedback on how they might think setting a purpose can help us before we read.
Next, we move to A, Activate Prior Knowledge. This is where I give them a big vocabulary word, SCHEMA. I explain that our brain is like a file cabinet, it holds so many files we need to help it find the right one and add new things to it. I ask them all to practice pulling a memory from their file. I am only going to give them one word and they have to make their brain work. I give them a word like candy. I ask them to picture it in their mind, what it feels, tastes, smells, and feels like. I then give them a second word, like Harbor. Being from Arizona this word would not be one many of them prior knowledge of. I ask them to tell their elbow partner about a Harbor. I will give students credit, this is where they can get quite creative. I go on to explain that being able to pull up a clear image of candy was because it was a part of our schema and the brain know were to find that file quickly because it you have had so many experiences with it. Tasting, smelling, touching and also you have good feelings about why you might have received candy. I explain that Harbor was harder because they might not have seen, visited, or read about one. It was harder for our brain to find the file or it didn't have one on it to begin with.
In order to activate our brain we have to give it a chance to think about what I already know about it. I get out the nonfiction book I used from my acting, and I model how that would look for the book. In this case I used a book on Sharks. I did a think aloud where I modeled my thinking. "I know Sharks are big, they have rows of teeth, and they live in the ocean. Some movies make them look really scary." In our notes, I ask them to write "what I already know" as the bullet under A.
With A complete we move on to W. W is for Wonder! This is my favorite, and I let them know it. I ask them to share with their elbow partner anything that they wonder about. I give them examples of what you might wonder about. This is another one that is fun to act out. I show them all the ways to wonder. Before I read I can predict, ask myself questions, or even keep notes of things I might want to know more about. Under the W, the notes I include are predict and ask myself questions.
The last letter is S, Set a Speed. This one I teach them by talking about cars. I explain that cars and trucks have gears. These gears help them with their speed. First gear, is slow and for pulling, as readers we use first gear when we have to read carefully, and for information. We might also use first when the words are harder. Under first gear in my notes, I add slow and for information In second gear, we read most of our regular books at this speed. We are careful but we are really enjoying it and its fun. We might also chose second when the text is easier or we have more prior knowledge on the subject. Third gear, is for skimming. We use this to skim for bold words, titles, and where we need to find an answer quickly. Last we use fourth gear, fourth is for speed. We use this gear in dictionaries to find words, or maybe checking a grocery list.
In closing, we review the acronym PAWS. As we do that I walk around and check students tri-fold notes. I take note of who might not have written everything due to time, understanding, or effort. They need to hang onto their notes in their desk so that the next time we can focus on During reading strategies.
If there is time it can be very helpful to allow students to color the letters of the acronym so that it is now eye catching to them. Similar to a bold or highlighted word.