In my 5th grade reading class, we read a story about the Florida Everglades that had a strong message of taking responsibility for taking care of our environment and conserving resources. So I thought it would be a good idea to read the story and take excerpts from it to address the standard of determining the message or meaning in a passage with my 3rd grade students. Students set a purpose to read in this lesson to determine the author's purpose and message and to find details to support the message.
I began this lesson with showing the students photographs of Marshes and Wetlands. Students study about these habitats in Social Studies. They have completed a unit on Georgia Habitats so they are very familiar with the habitats and the animals and vegetation indigenous to these areas. I then asked students to discuss what they see and then we began a discuss some of the resources we get from these areas. I list these on the board.
Next, I share with students a story I read with my 5th grade students. I tell my 3rd graders that we are going to listen to the same story. I explained to students that I am going to read the story to them and I want them to Set a Purpose for listening. I beef it up by saying, the author of this story has an important message for them, but they have to listen very carefully to hear the message because the author doesn't just tell them the message, he wants them to figure it out. I read the story to students emphasizing areas that share the message with voice and tone.
During this time, I placed a flip chart on my smart board similar to a flow chart. The top part of the chart had a space for the author's purpose. There were three more sections titled supporting details. I started the discussion with students, asking them to tell me what they thought the author was trying to tell them. Students gave several responses and we settled on the author was trying to tell us about all the wonderful things the Florida Everglades has and that we needed to take care of it and conserve its resources. I wrote this in the top section of the flow chart. Next, I ask students to remember one detail from the story that was a clue to what the author was trying to tell us. I write one of the responses in the chart. We discuss why this detail supports what the author is trying to tell us.
During this time, students worked together in groups to find more details to support the author's purpose. I take an excerpt from the text and gave each group a copy of it. I also give them highlighters to lift details from the text. Students are told to read through the passage silently and highlight any details they feel support the author's purpose. I then asked students to discuss their selections with their groups and decide which details support the author's purpose. Students were given a larger version of the flow chart to fill in with their details and be prepared to share and justify their choices.
After students completed their charts, we came back together as a class to share out our charts. I had circulated the room, participating in discussions and guiding students where needed. Students had to present their charts and justify their choices. We discussed each chart as a class and used students' charts to fill in the chart I used during the modeling portion of the lesson. We then talked about how re-reading to find details helped us understand the author's message. We also discussed why it was important to provide details to support our conclusions. Students recognized that we needed proof to prove what the author was trying to tell us.