The lessons housed within this unit all provide practice on specific skills or strategies. Some lessons were written to see what students remember and/or can do at the beginning of the year. Others were used to re-teach groups of students who hadn’t quite mastered the chosen skill when it was first introduced. Still others were designed to give students meaningful practice while I conducted required testing.
All lessons used texts that were familiar or easily decodable so that students’ energies were spent on skill practice rather than trying to just make sense of the text itself. Many lessons include reproducibles that were made with graphics from Kevin and Amanda’s Fonts, Teaching in a Small Town, and Melonheadz Illustrating.
I use Officer Buckle and Gloria (Rathman, P. (1995). Officer Buckle and Gloria. New York, NY: Putman Publishing Group) quite a bit in the beginning of the school year. The kids love this book and are excited to see what happens on each page. One of the first skills I use it to teach is visualizing.
I start by asking students to come to the meeting area with their pencils and readers’ notebooks. Then I explain that today they will use their visualizing skills to picture what is happening in the text. I won’t show them the pictures during this reading (which usually elicits lots of groaning…), but instead want students to picture exactly what is happening by paying close attention to the details they hear.
I read the first few pages (stop on the page where Officer Buckle gets a police dog) and ask students to draw what they “see” as I read. I encourage them to make the picture as detailed as possible so that others can tell what is happening without having to explain it to them. After reading the selection multiple times, I allow students some time to finish their drawings. Then I ask that they make notes describing what they’ve visualized.
Once I see that students are able to complete the task on their own, I send them back to their tables to continue working with their partners. I’ve laid out multiple copies of today’s text and marked each in two places. Within each partnership, Student A will read from the point I left off to the first marked page in the text. Meanwhile, Student B will practice visualizing, drawing, and recording his thoughts on paper. Student A can repeat the reading as many times as is necessary for Student B to draw a detailed representation of what she hears and then writes a brief summary of what she’s drawn. When finished, the partners will reverse the roles and finish reading the remainder of the text.
While they work, I walk the room making sure students understand the activity and are successful practicing today’s skill.
Rather than sharing with the entire class, I have students share with other partnerships at their tables. I continue walking the room, checking in with partnerships I may have missed during the partner work time.