Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.
In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.
When the students are over on the rug I tell them we are going to be moving to the song Summertime, Wintertime, by Betsy Q. I have the students stand up and do washing machine arms to make sure they will not get in anyone else’s way. “This song allows you to make up your own actions but remember your body is in your control you tell it what to do, so I should see everyone keeping their actions in control.” Saying this reminds the students they should be focused on the lesson at hand.
Once the song is over I have the students take a seat back on their spots using the Spot on Your Dot Song.
“We were moving around doing actions like we were in that season. Can anyone tell me something they like to do in summer?” I use the fair sticks to help me select different students. I select five students to answer this question for this particular season. I repeat this process for the other three seasons. I have 20 students in my class which is why I select five students for each season. This way I make sure everybody gets a turn.
I use this discussion to focus everyone’s attention onto the topic of seasons.
After the group discussion I present the book used for this lesson to the students.
“The title of this book is Apple Trees and the Seasons, by Julie K. Lundgren. Let’s look at the front cover and also the back cover. Can anyone tell me difference they notice between yesterdays book about an apple tree’s seasons and today’s book?”
I use the fair sticks to select one or two students to answer this question and have them explain their thinking to the rest of the class. “Sebastian notices this book has real pictures instead of drawings on the cover. He also noticed there was no mention of an illustrator. What do you think this means?” Hopefully you will have a student or two that picks up on the fact the book is non-fiction. I generally find I have students who say, “The book is real.”
“Yes, you are right the book is real and there is a special word for that. Does anyone know it?” I usually have one student who can tell me it is non-fiction, but if not I go ahead and tell the students, “This book is a non-fiction book. That means that it is going to give us scientific information and facts. Some features of a non-fiction book include a table of contents, an index, a glossary, and bold words. We will look for these features as we read the book.”
Now I go ahead and read the book to the students. While reading I will stop and have discussions about words we do not know; such as bud, blossom, harvest etc. We discuss these vocabulary words as they come in context for two reasons. One they are bold words which is a feature of a non-fiction book, and two, because explaining the words as they come up aids in student comprehension.
I will give the students opportunities to predict what will come next and have them justify their answer based on this book and hopefully recall some information from yesterday’s book. “Which season do you think will come next?” “How do you know?” This helps the students to make the connection between the fictional text we read yesterday and the non-fiction text we are reading now.
When the book is over I explain to the students today is the day they will complete their apple season book. “Today when you go over to work stations at the apple season book station you will find four containers. In one container there are pictures of different kinds of apple blossoms. In another container are small squares of green and brown paper for you to make your small apples. In another container there are small squares of shiny red paper for you to make your ripe apples. In the last container there are small squares of white paper for you to make your snow (I do not mention the season words because I want to see if the students can recall which seasonal word should be used to label the tree). Your apple trees need to reflect the correct order of the seasons from both books we have read. Also remember once you have added the details to your tree you will need to label the tree with the correct season.”
"The tables will have all the tools necessary to accomplish the task: scissors, glue, pencils and resources."
I explain the different resources that will be available to use at the table.
"Boys and girls there will be a copy of the book we just read, a copy of The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree, my example and also a word bank of seasonal words. You will be allowed to use whatever resource you need to complete the assignment."
I remind the students to make sure their work reflects care and pride.
I dismiss the students over to Integrated work stations one table at a time.
“Table number one, go have some apple tree book fun.
Table number two, you know what to do.
Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and
Table number four, shouldn’t be here anymore.”
Allow 15-20 minutes for this part of the lesson.
When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”
I remind students to put their completed work in the “completed work” bin and those that are not complete go into the “under construction” bin.
The samples provided here come from one middle student's book. She used the book to label her work - using the season labels in The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree.
Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit ticket for today is to read come up with one new vocabulary word from our book we read today.
“Today your exit ticket is to come up with one new word you learned today from our non-fiction book we read. I will use the fair sticks to select a student to tell us their new word. I might ask some students to explain what their new word means and I might not so be ready to explain what your new word means or use it in a sentence."
I use the Fair Sticks to determine the order of the students.
If a student has difficulty in coming up with a new word they can do one of two things:
When a student has successfully told the class a new word he/she is able to use the hand sanitizer and go get their snack.
Using this very quick and easy exit ticket method everyday gets the students into a routine and they know what to expect as a continuation of their learning. The exit ticket gives me a quick glimpse of how a student is doing when they either fluently give me a response or if they struggle I know I may need to do each support work with that particular student. The exit ticket also supports the lesson we have just completed and ties it up before moving on with the rest of our day.
Call the each student over during a time which fits into your classroom schedule. I call my students over to work with me during free choice centers time or at integrated work station time (only if I have enough parent volunteers and I am not working a station myself).
Have the student use his/her created book to retell the events of the previous day’s story to you. “Tell me the story of The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree using your tree to help you recall the events.”
Once the student has finished recalling the story events, I use the Seasons of the Apple Tree checklist to check to see if the student has met the objectives set for the assignment. I attach the checklist to the student’s work and place the whole packet in the student’s working portfolio.
The checklist has two purposes. One, it helps me to stay focused on what I am looking for in the students work and, two it conveys information to both the student and his/her family about how well he/she is doing in class.
Another good book for this lesson is How Do Apples Grow? By Betsy Maestro and illustrated by Giulio Maestro. I prefer to use Apple Trees and the Seasons because it is an example of a non-fiction book.
A great art activity to support the lesson: “The Seasons of an Apple Tree.” The only flaw I find this has is that the apples are ready for picking in the summer which is not scientifically correct and does not support what we learned about in the lesson. I adjust the activity by using shiny green and brown beads in the summer instead of the red. In fall I have the shiny pieces of red paper to represent the apples and use yellow, orange and brown paper for the leaves.