So who doesn't like popcorn, I say to my students as we began a lesson on finding the main idea. I tell students that today we are going to a movie and we're going to watch the movie and tell our friends what the movie is mostly about. I tell students that unlike most movies ours isn't that long, only about 15 minutes since we're at school. I tell students that we will have popcorn during this movie if they can do something for me. I ask the kids to keep track of anything that pops into their head while they are watching the movie. I tell them I want them to pay close attention to the questions that pop into their heads while they are reading. I also tell students that they will need to write their questions down so that we can discuss them after the movie and talk about why they are important to understand what we are reading. Using my smart board I go to PBS kids and pull up an "Arthur" by Marc Brown episode. Students watch the movie and eat individual bags of popcorn. I used popcorn as our snack on this day and tied it into the lesson. I give students a "Popcorn Thinking Sheet" (see resources) to record their questions on while watching the movie. To ensure that students are actively engaged, I tell them that I will have to take their bag of popcorn if they are not writing down questions while watching the movie.
After we watched the episode, I asked a few students to share with me some of their thoughts that popped into their minds. Next I use a piece of chart paper with a big bucket of popcorn drawn on it to model for students my thought process. On the chart I start to write things that popped into my head while I watched the episode. I make sure to refer back to specific scenes in the movie that triggered a question. I write the thoughts in each of the popcorn pieces. I explain to students that this is your brain's way of interacting with what you are watching and that the same thing happens when you read. Next I tell students that they will now try the same activity with a story about Arthur the same activity working with a partner. I checked out several "Arthur" books by Marc Brown from the library and disperse them to pairs of students as we move into the next part of the lesson.
At this time students have been given another "Popcorn Thinking Sheet" (see resources) to complete while they are reading. During this time students read with a partner and are asked to jot down thoughts and questions that pop into their heads while they are reading. While students partner read, I circulated the room not to just hear the conversation and give feedback, but to also listen to individual students read. This gives me several pieces of data on students reading and their ability to summarize and comprehend the main idea. Students continue to read and prepare to share their thoughts of their story. Each student must complete their own popcorn thinking sheet, but they will share their thoughts together during the wrap up session.
During this time, students share their popcorn thoughts with the class. We discussed how their thoughts and questions should relate to the overall main idea of the book. We also clarified some ideas that may not have related to the main idea. To do this, I had students go back in their text and look for evidence of their thought. I had students read these sections to the class and we discussed whether or not it tied into the main idea. This gave students an opportunity to dialogue with their peers about the book and me an opportunity to help students clarify their thinking.
After our discussion about our books and questions, we talk about why it is important to pay attention to the questions and thoughts you have while reading. I emphasized for students that these questions and thoughts drive their understanding of the text they are reading and are important in clarifying what the author is saying to them through the story.