I start today by telling my students that I need to tell them a story about something that happened to me last night! Instantly, I have my students’ attention! Last night, I went home, and Mr. Hesemann and I went to join his family for dinner. When we were at dinner, we started talking about vacation, and places we’ve gone and places we’d like to go to that we haven’t yet visited. Mrs. Hesemann’s brother said that his favorite vacation is to go anywhere near the ocean. I stopped and said, “Oh my goodness! Our classroom has been learning about the ocean! Would you like to hear some cool information I know?” And I shared lots of great information about the ocean!
Then I move the conversation to my students. I ask, “Don’t you feel like you’ve already learned a lot about the ocean? What do you know now about the ocean that you might not have known before? I think I’ll make a note here about what we know already!” I flip to today’s anchor chart (just a blank chart with the heading "What We Know about the Ocean") and then I let the students share information that they have about the ocean while I make a note of their thoughts. “Wow! You really DO know a lot about the ocean already? But, wait, are there things you are still wondering about when it comes to the ocean? Do you have any questions that you’d like to have answered about the ocean?” Almost instantaneously hands go up, and so I say, “Turn and talk to your partner about what you’re wondering about. Let your partner know about the questions you still have.”
I stop the students after a few moments by saying “If you can hear my voice, clap once. (Clap) If you can hear my voice, clap twice. (Clap, clap) If you can hear my voice, make your best wondering face. (Students make puzzled faces).” (You can read more about the "If You Can Hear My Voice..." strategy in my Strategy Folder). Then I go on to say, “Boys and girls, I’d like to hear some of the questions you have about the ocean so far. As you share your questions, I’ll make a note here on our chart.” I use another blank sheet of chart paper and just write "Ask & Answer Questions to Understand a Text" at the top. Then, I let the students share their questions. When I’ve gotten quite a few, I say “Boys and girls, I’m SO proud of you! You are already doing something SO well that good readers do! Good readers ask and answer questions while they’re reading, and you’ve already been doing this! So far, we’ve done a text feature scavenger hunt, and we’ve located vocabulary words to think about their meanings, and all the while, you were thinking about questions you have, finding answers to them, and then thinking about other questions you have now, and that’s what good readers do!"
Now, it’s time for us to get into some reading to see if we can answer some of our questions, so I say to the students, “All right third graders, now we need to get reading to see if we can answer some of our questions. I’m going to give you two Post-It notes today. One will be to make a note of any answers we find in our reading today to the questions we’ve listed here on our chart. The other Post-It will be for you to make a note of any new questions that come up today. Maybe as we’re reading, you’ll think of something else that your wondering about now about oceans. If you come up with a question, write it down on the second note. ” At this time, we get ready to read, but I’ve decided that I’m going to allow my students to pair up into partners to read together today. This offers more leverage as they try out this skill and allows me to pair readers as necessary to support students with the demands of the text. We move back to our seats, and partners start reading the magazine. As students are reading, I circulate and give feedback to students on their notes and listen in to their thinking.
Students will not be able to read the entire magazine today, so we’ll continue this lesson tomorrow. I stop students from their important work by using our Clapping Ball (see my Strategy Lessons for more information on the Clapping Ball). Once I have regained students attention, they ask, “Did anyone find any answers today?” and of course some students raise their hands, so I say, “Let’s hear a few!” I let the students share some of the answers they’ve noted. Then I ask, “Did anyone have a question pop up that they’re now wondering about after reading today?” I let a few students share some of their new questions too! I end today’s lesson by saying, “Awesome job today boys and girls! Tomorrow, we’ll meet back on the rug and update our chart, and then we’ll keep our reading so that we can find answers to many more of our questions!” We tuck our notes into our reading folders with our magazines to prepare for tomorrow!