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 these next seven lessons, we tackle identifying fictional elements, describing main characters, summarizing, and making connections between texts by comparing and contrasting characters. The texts we are using are The Pain and the Great One (Blume, J. (1985). The pain and the great one. Bantam Publishing: New York, New York.) and My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother (Polacco, P. (1998). My rotten redheaded older brother. Simon and Schuster: New York, New York.).
Today’s lesson focuses on describing “The Pain.” In yesterday’s lesson, we re-read the first half of the book, which focused on the older sister. Today, we re-read the second part of the book, which is narrated by the brother who is called, “The Pain,” by his older sister.
Before reading I ask students to be on the look out for ways to describe the brother. I remind them that we aren’t looking for physical characteristics or feelings, but character traits: words that describe a person on the inside. I also tell them that when a great trait comes to mind, think of a piece of evidence from the text that would support that idea.
Because we completed an identical lesson yesterday, I have students work on the third page of the packet together. After reading, I have students work with their partner to determine appropriate character traits for the brother and think of solid evidence that backs up their ideas. As they work, I walk the room offering support and assistance when needed. Today it appears much easier for students to determine appropriate answers such as “selfish,” “immature,” or “mean” rather than “young,” or “not nice.” In order to support their need to find evidence, I’ve placed a copy of today’s text on each table. This doesn’t allow each partnership to have their own, but does allow at least one copy of the text to be easily accessible when needed.
When they have found at least three strong traits with support, I have them move on to the bottom of the page where it asks if the character changed during the story. This seems a little too easy as the answer is basically the same as yesterday’s response for the sister.
Since I was able to visit all groups, I did not have students share their answers with the whole class. Instead, I had each partnership begin their independent practice once they had finished their work from today’s mini-lesson.
Students pull the fiction texts they are reading out of their book boxes and begin their independent work. Today they are to:
1. Write a response to today’s story - show how they connect to the story in a personal way through their own life experiences.
2. Begin reading their independent fiction text. Look for ways to describe a main character by thinking of appropriate character traits and locating evidence for their ideas. If students are towards the end of their books, they can reflect on whether a character has changed during the story and look for ways to support their answers. All answers should be recorded in their readers’ notebooks.
While students work, I conduct independent or small group conferences.
At the end of the work time, students share their work with their reading partners. As they share, I walk the room looking for great examples of both types of responses. I make notes of those who had strong connections to the text and their own life experiences or had excellent examples of character traits with textual evidence and then share these with the class.