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 we continue looking at both texts. Yesterday, we compared the older siblings from both texts. In this lesson, we will contrast the two younger siblings.
Once again, we started by reading My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother. I wanted students to have another experience with the text as they had only heard it one time before. Prior to reading, I told students to pay attention to any differences they could find between characters. Especially when thinking about how characters changed.
When we finished, I pointed students’ attention to our compare and contrast anchor chart. I explained to students that their task today was to work with their partners to complete page five. This page asks them to show how the siblings are different and to write a contrasting sentence using their findings.
With no further prompting, I dismissed them to their work areas and watched them get started. I circulated the room to eavesdrop in on their conversations. I found that their work, overall, went really well. It confirmed my choice to do the previous day’s lesson as a whole group.
Because students were so successful in completing their pages and writing thoughtful contrasting sentences, I did not have them share their work with the whole group. Instead, I had students begin their independent practice work as soon as they were finished and had checked in with me.
Students pull their fiction texts 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 contrast characters within their text with each other, other characters in books they’ve read, or themselves. I remind them to find textual support for their answers and that all work should be recorded in their readers’ notebooks.
While students work, I conduct individual or small group conferences.
At the end of the work time, students share their work with their reading partners. As students talk, I walk the room looking for great examples of both types of responses that can be shared with the group as a whole.