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.
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 the 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 three of a three-day lesson using passages from a Scholastic News Magazine on robots. On day one, we read the first article and determined its main idea. Day two was similar, we read another shorter article about robots and determined its main idea. Today, students use information from both articles to show how they are alike and how they are different.
We began by reviewing both articles and reading over the information in our completed packets. I also pointed students’ attention back to our compare and contrast anchor chart, which listed comparing and contrasting words. We worked together to complete a comparing sentence that showed how the articles were alike. This was the easy work as both were about robots. However, I didn’t accept just that answer, but pushed them to tell me a little more. We finally settled on the sentence: “Both articles are about robots helping people.”
Then came the partner work. I asked students to work with their partners to come up with a contrasting sentence that showed how the two articles were different. I gave them some time to think and discuss and walked the room listening to their ideas. I had each table share their best idea and then wrote one on our chart.
Last came the real challenge: come up with one contrasting sentence and one comparing sentence that shows another way that the articles were alike and how they were different. Remember to include words from our chart in your sentences! Again I walked the room listening for students’ discussions. I gave them ten minutes to complete the task and then asked them to turn in their packets to the bin.