Reading texts in social studies and science helps the students build a foundation of knowledge in these areas to make them better readers in other content areas. The cross disciplinary focus with the Common Core State Standards encourages teachers to use texts from other subjects in reading lessons, which ultimately benefits the students as they are exposed to vocabulary and concepts and generalize them throughout the day. The focus on answering questions using text evidence (RI.2.1) to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text in this lesson represents a shift in the Common Core State Standards to encourage students to read closely. Students are shown how to determine what the text says explicitly and make logical inferences from it. The ability to cite specific textual evidence to support conclusions (when writing) makes their answers more powerful and arguments more convincing.
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.
Introduction to the lesson (a review from yesterday, so keep it short)
Although I don't like to 'front load' lessons with a lot of information (I want to keep the focus on the text), I wanted to spend a few moments reviewing the ideas of explorers since there was SO much information in this section (names, dates, countries....). We have been talking about early World Exploration and we read the HM sections the day before, but it was worth spending a few moments on vocabulary and names, which went a long way toward allowing the kids to have an overall picture before they start answering specific questions about the topic. Anytime we have new information in a text that's loaded with text features, I tend to spend 2 days on the information. On the first day, we get an overall picture and I teach the vocabulary and concepts. The second day we go back, relook at the text features and get specific information.
Explain the task
Modeling (I chose Columbus because he's the most familiar)
For this lesson, the focus was answering questions and identifying text features. You'll notice that the questions on the whiteboard are different that those on the worksheet. After I modeled a few question, the kids chimed in with other question ideas and I realized that allowing them to ask questions, although a good skill, would not require them to necessarily look at the text features. Some of their ideas for questions couldn't be answered by the text features (which was the focus of the lesson) or by the text at all (Was he married? or How many kids did he have?). I changed it up and decided to give them a worksheet with the questions already written for them. I demonstrated how to write very short, but accurate, answers since they’ll be typing.
Explain the task
Kids answer questions in groups
Kids enter information for the cube
Students are practicing the skill of gaining information from text and text features and then writing answers based on the evidence that they read. They are answering questions based mostly on the text features, which are often overlooked. The students read the text and move on, ignoring the captions, illustrations, lists, diagrams, graphs, etc., which carry SO much information. My goal is that they know and use various text features to locate key facts or information efficiently. (RI.2.5) As they work, I ask them about their evidence. Are they reading closely to determine what the text says explicitly and are they able to cite specific textual evidence to answer and answer the questions? (RI.2.1) Ultimately, they are learning how to cite evidence to answer questions, as well as acquire and utilize academic vocabulary, both of which are captured in one of the key shifts in the ELA Common Core Standards.
Finish the cube
Reflect on what you have learned
Check for understanding – can they make an illustration that supports their questions? Can they share how a text feature helped them? These answers will guide your next lesson – review a certain skill, reteach the lesson, or challenge students with different objectives. When the teacher asks the questions, she can differentiate the difficulty of the question, use target vocabulary, check for class understanding and prompt as needed (“Did the bold print help you….?”)
Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.
Students with challenges in reading or language should be mixed into groups of various learning abilities. They may need support to answer questions because questioning is typically very difficult for these students.
Students with more ability should be able to ask deeper questions about the topic and be a model for the group. Encourage them to prompt the group to answer questions that look deeper into the text. Although they may need prompting and an example, it’s worth challenging them to use higher language and sharpen their questioning skills.