I began this lesson by having students create a KWHL chart about natural sights in the western part of the United States - listing what they already know, questions about what they want to know, how they can go about finding the information, and we'll later fill in what we learned. My purpose in doing this was to encourage them to link their own prior knowledge and experiences from reading, t.v., movies, and personal travels. I used a KWHL chart strategy because I believe students already know some things about the western part of the U.S.A. because I our previous reading of "The Horned Toad Prince" which was set in the western U.S.
"Letters Home from Yosemite" by Lisa Halvorsen is a narrative nonfiction text that students have previously read for homework. As we re-read, citing evidence, examples, and details from the text during a close read, students asked and answered text-based questions. We also examined Tier 2 vocabulary.
To close the lesson, students listed on the KWHL chart what they have learned from reading "Letters Home from Yosemite." Next, I discussed with students why they thought the author chose to use letters and photographs in "Letters Home from Yosemite." Finally, students wrote a letter to the local newspaper to urge the preservation of all national parks. I want students to see letter writing as a powerful tool of communication in our society, a means of expressing their ideas and feelings, and getting things accomplished.