“It’s fall, y’all! What are some things we think of when we think of fall?” I ask.
Students brainstorm ideas, notably Halloween, which leads to “pumpkin,” “leaves” (after a few hints), and eventually “apples.” Other things are suggested, and all ideas are accepted. I make sure we have pumpkins, leaves, and apples on our idea list.
“We are going to do some sorting with some of these fall things,” I say. “We will have to listen to and follow directions, but we get to choose where we put our colors.”
I set little trays of crayons on each table, containing that light green color that looks like Granny Smith apples, red, yellow, and orange. Before I pass out papers, I remind the students that we are following directions before we are doing any coloring or sorting. “Can we grab crayons and start coloring right away?” I reiterate. “No!” the students respond.
“We are going to sort our fabulous fall items by different attributes,” I explain. “Remind me, what’s an attribute?”
I call on a student to explain the term “attribute,” which we have been discussing for weeks. I call on other students to give examples of attributes, like color, shape, and size.
I read the first direction before we pass out papers, showing the Fabulous Fall Sorting paper on the document camera. “You will have these shapes that you will get to color in just a minute. You cannot color them any way you want—you will have to listen to directions and color the fall items correctly. Are you ready to be super listeners?” I ask, to a resounding “Yes!”
We go through the directions on the attached direction list, and I move around to really encourage that children are working independently and not simply copying their neighbors.
After the students are finished coloring, I give them the next directions. “Cut out the boxes so that you have 9 boxes. Now we are ready to sort!”
“Sort your pictures into groups. Raise your hand when you have finished sorting.”
Students sort their objects on 9 x 12” construction paper, and I circulate to either give specific praise or ask questions to help students with their sorting. I try to avoid giving blatant directions to the students during this portion of the activity, instead trying to help the students see their own errors and experience success as they remain in control of their sorting.
For instance, at one table, I might say, “You sorted all of your apples together! Awesome!” to one student. Directly next to that student, there may be a student struggling with sorting, so I might say, “You have red and orange things together here. There’s green things together so nicely in a green group. What can you do with the red and orange items?” These subtle reminders help students to make self-corrections without feeling wrong.
I get out containers of glue sticks, and students then glue their favorite way to sort. Have students write the number of items in each group by the groups. (There should be 3 each.)
As students complete their sorting, they raise their hands. I ask students if we can show their sorting on the document camera, and we pause to see different examples of sorting on the big screen. As student work is displayed, we pause for a moment to discuss the type of sorting selected. (I position myself by students most likely to keep working or be disrespectful, so a quiet gesture can help keep even the most rambunctious students on track.)
After different examples of sorting have been projected—making sure to have examples of sorting by size, color, and shape—we wrap up.
“What types of sorting did we do?” I ask. I select students to answer the question. As students state “Color,” for instance, I display a student’s sorting by color, so that we have students explaining the ways that we can sort, as well as visual reminders of how that looks. So we have student work highlighted as students restate the lesson objective!