Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing Word Wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics. The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary. My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.
Bring Students to A Similar Starting Point
My kids were very intrigued with these pictures - they knew about the slinky, but had no idea what the computer was. I felt a bit dated :(
Introduce the lesson
I taught the concept of ‘theme’ and ‘connecting to a theme in “Connecting to the Theme With Elmer” and “Details, Details, Details...”. If your students have not discussed theme, talk about what makes up key details and how to make connections to the story (‘connecting’ was also covered in those previous lessons).
The shift in the Common Core Standards toward the use of classic stories and fables to retell encourages the students to use traditional literature to sequence the details, pulling out the theme and key details of the text. (RL.2.2) Students also are using story structure (elements) and illustrations to support their reasoning of their choices.
Discussion and practice
Connect to Text Evidence
Monitor student activity
The idea of text evidence is still a new one for my students, so we are doing this as a group so I can make comments - 'I see that picture shows the train is trying really hard so it makes sense that your theme is 'try really hard'. If your students have used text evidence successfully before, you may want to have the class help you judge - 'Is that strong evidence? Does he have enough evidence to verify his choice?'
Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.
I included several videos of how to prompt students with limited abilities in the ‘Students’ Turn’ section. They often need to talk through their ideas and may need to copy ideas from the whiteboard for spelling help. The group work should also make it possible for them to hear other students conceptualize a theme and connection.
For students with greater academic abilities, challenge them to use deeper connections and clear themes. Instead of ‘try hard’ for The Little Engine That Could, I would encourage them to go deeper with higher level vocabulary, such as ‘face your fears’ or ‘rise to the challenge’.