I always begin my lessons with an Activator. Other names I've used or heard are a "Do Now" or "Warm-Up." I want to bring students' attention to the lesson by activating their prior knowledge and equally as important, their interest in the lesson. Because this lesson's story is about the challenges inherent in teen friendship, on a piece of paper I ask students to answer the question, “Why it can be difficult to be friends with someone?” For my reluctant writers I tell them to not write more than two sentences. As they began writing a few students asked, "Can I write three sentences if needed?" I responded, “That would be fine!" Reluctant writers often need such guidelines in which they feel safe to express themselves.
After giving them 5 minutes for this quick write activity, I use a checking for understanding technique called "Cold Calling." This technique and 48 others that are equally as effective can be found in the book, Teach Like A Champion by Doug Lemov. Instead of asking for volunteers to read their responses, I "cold call" on two or three students to share their answers giving them a participation point for doing so. The Cold Call technique avoids the dilemma of the same few students answering the questions being asked. It sends a clear message to all my students that I expect them to participate. I also don't allow the "I don't know" response.
I find that many students will use this as a way to not participate hoping you will leave them alone. Instead, I offer substitute responses such as "I have to think about it" or "Come back to me" and I will go back to them.
My class is an inclusive classroom with multi-level learners. Some students feel comfortable writing a lot and other struggle with a few sentences. My definition of "fairness" is giving every student what they need to succeed versus everyone being treated the same. I call on two or three students to read what they wrote and put a check on their papers supporting its completion. I do not grade this activity.
Using a Power Point presentation as a reading guide, I first reviewed the literary terms followed by annotation.
The Learning Activity is the part of the lesson in which I clearly state the specific activities the students will do during the lesson. I began with asking students to define the word “sucker.” Many said it was being "stupid or dumb." Then I got the response I was looking for when one student responded, "It is being taken advantage of like being gullible."
I asked students to begin reading the short story “Sucker” by Carson McCullers. Using a gradual release method of teaching, I first read the first two paragraphs aloud and then discuss slides 3-4, the Basic Understanding questions i.e., “Where does it tell you what the setting might be?” Students were asked to circle the words that support their answers. I explained that this is one of the steps in analyzing what you read. I checked for understanding by circulating among the students checking their annotation of the setting.
After they finished reading the story we cover the analysis questions starting on slide 5 which address the inferential information in the text. As they begin to answer each question, I need to remind them to find the evidence in the text to support their answers. While reading the text, I also remind the students to add notes in each section of the Story Map. Many of my students are struggling readers and need scaffolds such as sentence starters in the "Sucker" - Power Point Lesson Analysis Reading Guide (slides 6 and 7)and graphic organizers to help them access the information. I want them to develop good reading habits and hope as the semester progresses they will have less of a need for such scaffolds.
I give most students a choice of either working in pairs or independently to answer the remaining reading guide questions using Cold Calling to check for understanding of each question being answered.
I like summarizing the day's lesson by using an 1:1:1 Exit Slip: 1 thing you learned, 1 question you have, and 1 comment on analyzing the short story.
If I have enough time I will ask everyone to write their answers on a half piece of paper and hand it in before leaving class. Otherwise I will ask a few students to report out as well before leaving. I do not grade exit slips but am aware of what they write and use this information as a type of formative assessment.