I liked the Clue analogy because it encourages the kids to ask questions and find answers using clues, or evidence in the text. I created my own scenarios in this lesson because I wanted to use characters they were knowledgeable about (SpongeBob, Barbie) and make sure the elements were clearly stated in the text. There is lots of opportunity to read published books where some of the information is inferred and requires more critical thinking. For this lesson, I preferred to use these teacher created stories so the students could find the information easily and, more importantly, cite their evidence clearly in the pictures or text. It's still early in the year for us, and this will lay an important foundation for later work with complex texts and characters.
Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics. The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary. My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.
Gain student interest
Discuss the ideas
"First let's talk about the text features that we've learned so far (or introduce them now). These make up the structure of the story and will help us with our game.” (powerpoint slide 1)
- The characters are ....pause for an answer from the students.... the "who" of the story.” Put the character header up.
- The setting tells us ...pause for an answer from the students....when and where the story happens.” Put the setting header up.
- The action tells us ...pause for an answer from the students....what happens in the story. Sometimes we call these the events.” Put the action header up.
- In every story, we need to know how and why the events happened. Sometimes characters respond to events – they change as events or the problem happens. How do you get to school if it rains? Why did you decide to wear shorts today? If we put all of the parts of the story together, it makes a plot for our story. Put the plot prompt out.
- (Powerpoint slide 3) "Plot is the total of all of the questions that we ask - the 'who' what' 'where' 'when' 'how' and 'why'. It's like an addition problem. When I ask you, 'What is the plot?', I need you to tell me answer all of the questions about the story.”
Explain the task & model with a picture only
I use a picture first to focus on identifying the elements visually. Using information gained from illustrations to demonstrate understanding of characters, setting and plot (RL.2.7) allows students to cite evidence from what they see to answer questions, a shift in the Common Core State Standards. When students are comfortable with story feature identification and using illustrations, then I add text so the students practice reading to identify answers with text and illustrations, which is a harder skill.
Guided Practice with a story (powerpoint slide 5)
This discussion about story structure and text elements (RL.2.5), as well as instruction about asking and answering questions (RL.2.1) represents a key shift in the Common Core standards towards citing evidence from the text. I am requiring students to do a close reading of more complex literary text and spending time ensuring they are correctly identifying the story elements and understand the concept of plot.
More Guided Practice - I added 2 more stories (Woody and Barbie) and pictures to the powerpoint for practice. When I taught this lesson the third time, my students really benefitted from the extra practice.
Explain the task
As students work, I'm looking to see if they can easily identify the text features. We have reviewed them multiple times in previous lessons, so I'm assuming this should be easier. If not, I may have to step in and do the activity as a group. See the Reflection about what happened when students worked together.
Monitor student work
By asking 'how they know what they know', I'm probing their thinking. Can they show evidence of their ideas? Can they find the answers by using the text, illustrations, and background knowledge. This is a critical element to the Common Core State Standards. I am encouraging them to draw on their own abilities to discover answers themselves instead of relying on adults to supply the information.
Share the ideas
Scaffolding and Special Education: You could scaffold this lesson up or down, depending on student levels.
With my special education students, we talked and made inferences on several pictures. I provided an extra picture and extra story on the last slides of the powerpoint. They needed more practice with that skill. They did fairly well identifying elements on the pictures, but inferring and writing a plot with the scenes only (no pictures) was harder. We did all of the scenes together as I wrote the 'why' and 'how' and plot on the board, but I did welcome and encourage their ideas. We edited the answers on the board through discussion. It was helpful for them to have the teacher again THINKING OUT LOUD to model for them.
For students with a higher language level, they may be able to work in groups without much help, just monitoring to make sure they are using evidence.