Skill Practice with Robots Day One

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SWBAT determine the main idea and three supporting details for two non-fiction passages on robots and then decide how the articles are similar and how they are different.

Big Idea

In CCSS assessments, students must be able to read a passage and answer layered questions that represent multiple skills. These lessons help prepare students to look at an article through more than one lens.

Unit Introduction

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 FontsTeaching in a Small Town, and Melonheadz Illustrating.

Setting a Purpose


In years past, we taught one skill at a time: read a passage and determine the main idea, read a book and compare and contrast characters in it. Well, those days are gone. With the Common Core assessments, students are asked to answer “layered” questions that cover multiple standards. And because our assessments are changing, our instruction and students’ experiences with texts must also change.

This is day one of a three-day lesson using passages from a Scholastic News Magazine on robots. I thought the boys would appreciate the topic, especially since there were videos to accompany the articles! I created a packet to go along with the articles that tracked the main idea of each section and then had students identify the main ideas of the both articles.

Although I typically use short, mini-lessons, these three days were full of long, whole-group learning. It’s not my favorite way to teach, but sometimes is a necessary way to remediate issues or introduce concepts with all students.

Whole Group Work

40 minutes

I started the lesson by showing the video. This always gets students interested in reading the non-fiction article it accompanies! On this day, we read the cover article, “Robots to the Rescue.” Rather than read the entire passage, we read one section at a time. Students were much more successful filling out the chart this way. We paused in each section to talk about non-fiction text features such as bold words, word banks, and headings.

At the end of the first paragraph, we stopped and completed the chart for that section. I took several students’ answers and worked with the class to decide on one complete sentence that worked best for our paragraph. After recording this answer, we went on to read the next section. We continued this process - reading one section and then completing one box - until we had read the entire article. When we were finished, I directed students to the last box in that day’s column that asked, “What is the main idea of the entire article?” They worked with the students at their tables to come up with one complete sentence that summarized most of what we had written in the other boxes. This took some time and several revisions, but students were able to come up with the sentence, “This article is mainly about robots that help firefighters put out fires, rescuers in natural disasters, and people recovering from injuries.” Pretty good, right? We recorded our sentence and put everything in our binders to continue our work the next day.