Today we begin our study of RI5.3 - describing how ideas, people and events are related within a text. This was a rather difficult skill last year, so this year I plan to introduce it more concretely.
I show scholars the picture of the three images in the resource section (a college, a space shuttle blasting off and an astronaut). I ask them, "How are these pictures related?" I ask scholars to practice describing how these ideas are related before they apply the skill to text. This extra practice enables them to apply skill of describing how ideas are related with semi-abstract pictures rather than abstract ideas embedded within a text. This extra practice makes the skill a bit easier for scholars and helps them to build confidence before we apply the new skill to the text.
I remind scholars that there are many possible answers to this question ("How are these pictures related?"). I try not to lead them too much, but I may scaffold the questioning by saying, "How does going to college relate to an astronaut? How does a blasting off space shuttle relate to an astronaut? How does college relate to a space shuttle?"
I give scholars 3 minutes to think through this independently. Then, I give 1 minute to share. Then, we spend about 6 minutes discussing. I emphasize that many relationships are possible here (we don't have enough information to provide conclusive evidence for a single right answer).
We do a cloze reading of pages 208-209 in the Houghton Mifflen text book (the first two pages of Mae Jemison: Space Scientist). When we do a cloze reading, I read aloud while scholars read the same copy of the text to themselves. I pause every so often and scholars chorally read the paused upon word. I display my copy of the text on a visualizer so that all scholars can see my copy as well. This strategy helps scholars to access the text (this is helpful for below level readers) and it enhances engagement (scholars are held accountable for following along when I pause).
Then, I model answering the following question: "How is the important space event in 1957 related to the important space event in 1969?" I model answering the question, supporting it, linking it and restating my answer. Basically, the event in 1957 (first shuttle launched into space) allowed for the event in 1969 (first man walking on the moon) to be possible. One was a first step toward the other. This think aloud is very important to help scholars understand and clarify what they are supposed to do when figuring out how ideas or events relate to one another.
We do a cloze reading of pages 211-215. We practice answering the following questions on dry erase boards with partners:
1. Mae told her kindergarten teacher that she wanted to be a scientist. Her teacher replied, "Don't you mean a nurse?" How did this event influence Mae as a person?
2. Describe how Mae's time in high school, college and grade school relates to her time as a young adult?
* In my feedback to scholars, I emphasize their answer, support, link and re-statement. I give on-the-spot feedback and scholars immediately fix the response.
I created these questions on my own by looking at PARCC sample test items as well as the text itself. I find that the questions generated by the anthology are sometimes helpful, but usually are not aligned to the Common Core. Therefore, I read the selection and I asked myself, "what are the important people, events or ideas in this text? How do they relate to one another?" Then, I generated these two questions from this first section so that scholars can practice this skill.
Scholars do an independent rotation today that focuses on completing items on the checklist. Primarily, scholars finish up their independent work from Michelle Kwan: Heart of a Champion. Most scholars will likely be finishing up their movie trailer for the Michelle Kwan: Heart of a Champion.
As scholars work independently, my ELL co-teacher and I pull small groups. We both work on a specific skill that relates to our target standard. Today is Friday, so it is a re-teaching day based on student need. I focus on using main ideas and supporting details to create strong summaries. The ELL co-teacher focuses on identifying main ideas and supporting details with the lowest group and the on-level group. During the rotations, scholars are either with me, the ELL co-teacher or in their independent rotation. The text we use during small group time is text that is on the group's highest instructional level. This means that students can read and understand the text independently with a bit of support. My white group is my on-grade-level group, pink above-grade-level and yellow is below-grade-level. These groups are flexible and change quarterly as a direct result of iRI testing (this is a running record that we give each quarter).