Welcome to pirate week! This set of five lessons is part of a larger, six week unit my district has implemented, called "Inspired by the Sea". My students have loved reading about all things ocean, informational and fiction. This week, they're excited to join the ranks of cap'n Prejna, and read fictional stories about pirates. We'll be focusing on reading closely for understanding, text structure and illustrations, and story elements. Many of my lessons integrate multiple standards within one lesson.
At the beginning of the week, we focus on our close reading skills using Melinda Long's How I Became a Pirate, but then we dig into other pirate stories of different reading levels. Knowing I was going to need a lot of different fictional pirate stories this week, I enlisted the help of my school librarian, and visited two of my local libraries. I'm thankful to have lots of help in collecting stories in various levels to meet the needs of all of my readers!
Please watch this short video to see some of the highlights of my lesson. Thank you, and godspeed (goodbye and good luck in pirate speak!)!
Revisit Standards: Our focus this week has been reading closely (rereading with a purpose), the structure of text, and how the illustrations enhance the text. My crew and I review our learning this week by rereading the notes we took on our close reading presentation on Monday and Tuesday, as well as discussing answers to questions on our comprehension questions worksheet. I've also included copies of my Common Core ELA posters, as I am always referring to them during instruction. (See Resource Files: RL3.1; RL3.5; RL3.7; RL3.9 Posters)
Model: Over the last two days, during our read aloud time we've read Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies. As we were reading, we were comparing and contrasting this story with our shared reading text, How I Became a Pirate. Today, I model, with help from my crew, finishing the Venn Diagram to compare and contrast setting, character, events, problem and solution, genre, text structure, illustrations, and theme. One way I like to keep all students involved is to have them write responses and flash them at me on dry erase boards. This helps to keep everyone focused and practicing the task at hand. It's important to note that some of the story elements on the Venn Diagram are review for my crew, such as character, setting, plot, genre, and theme. I then show my students a finished paragraph on the back of the paper to summarize ideas on the Venn Diagram. For sake of time, I did this ahead of time. Walking my students through the process of comparing, contrasting, and composing a paragraph will help set them up for success when they complete this task with their own pirate story. (See Resource File: Teacher Sample Pirate Compare and Contrast)
Prepare Ahead: My crew has practiced their close reading skills with a shared text, and knows how to complete their Venn diagram and paragraph. They're ready to show what they can do with these skills by reading and writing about pirate stories at their own level. To prepare, I've gathered many books from my classroom library, school library, and two local libraries. Thankfully, I have some very nice librarians who lend a hand! I've included a partial list of pirate stories I received from my local libraries. I also used pirate books from my classroom library and our school library. One size does not fit all in reading, so it's important to me that I offer frequent opportunities for students to practice Common Core skills within their independent reading levels. Oh! Don't be afraid to get double copies! It allows for great conversation among students reading the same texts! Knowing my students will have about three days of shared reading time, most of the books are picture books, and some are shorter chapter books. (See Resource File: Sample of Fiction Pirate Books from Public Libraries)
Book Talks: To begin, in my best pirate voice, I give book talks on many of the books I've checked out for students to read. I choose books at various levels, so I have a variety for readers of all abilities. My book talks include, but are not limited to, reading the title, author and illustrator, short excerpt, back cover, inside papers (if they have them), quick picture walk, or reference to a sequel. Students can be some of your best sales people. If I notice that students have read a book I'm book talking, I'll ask them for their opinion. There were a lot of favorites this week, with our pirate stories. My book talks are quick and last about 30 seconds to one minute. The idea is to get your students excited about many books, so they'll go back and read them even after "Pirate Week" is concluded.
Book Selections: I dismiss the students from the carpet area to choose a pirate book. I call students about five to six at a time to choose a book, and begin reading quietly. I call my lower readers first, so they have time to get the books that are most appropriate for them, and to give them enough time to browse the selections. While we wait for groups of six to make their selections, the students that remain with me in the carpet area are using their "Pirate Speak" bookmarks from Monday to talk like a pirate. I continue to call students to the counter six at a time to get books until all of the students have a chance. (See Resource File: Pirate Words Bookmark)
Read: During this time, my students are reading their pirate books with the purpose of comparing and contrasting it to How I Became a Pirate. While I walk around the classroom, I first check to make sure my scalawags have selected "Just Right" books. If I were to notice a student with a book that was too challenging for them, I'd nicely ask them to show me that the book was "Just Right". If they are unable to follow our "Just Right" criteria, I'd help them in selecting another book. I walk around the room, helping students as needed.
Compare and Contrast: Most students won't finish reading their book today, and will need to continue tomorrow, but if they do, they have a copy of How I Became a Pirate for when they complete their Venn diagram. This will allow them to read closely, and compare and contrast story elements. They'll begin by recording information on their Venn diagram, and then create a paragraph to summarize their ideas. (See Resource File: Pirate Compare and Contrast with How I Became a Pirate)
Review: We take a quick minute to review our skills of comparing and contrasting, and I have the students turn and share a favorite part of the pirate story their reading within their table groups. I tell the students we will continue with our "treasure" of pirate stories tomorrow and Friday.
Here are some additional resources you may find helpful to use with your lads and lassies during a pirate, or ocean week. I try to integrate materials to support the standards within our literacy centers, language arts time, and at home practice .
Journal Writing: To practice routine writing, have your students complete pirate-themed journal entries each day (W3.4, W3.10). Display this pirate journal document each day and let your students choose their entry. If your students have individual devices, such as Chromebooks (we're not there yet :), have them type their journal responses onto a collaborative document to make a class book of journal entries for later reading. My students have composition books where we complete our journaling activities. Ask your crew to have their pirate speak bookmarks out while writing their journal entries for authentic pirate talk! (See Resource Files: Pirate Themed Writing Prompts)
Pirate Themed Organizers: I've included some pirate-themed graphic organizers that focus on asking and answer relevant questions for comprehension (RL3.1 and L3.2), character (RL3.3), and comparing and contrasting texts (RL3.2, RL3.9, W3.4). If you are working on different standards than I have highlighted in my lessons, or are looking for additional practice, some of these may be helpful. I like to use organizers like this to differentiate. Not all of my readers read at the same level, so it's nice to offer practice that can be used with different texts. You'll notice how there is a "Title of text" line on all of the graphic organizers here. (See Resource Files: Character Map; Pirate Question Stem Ask and Answer Practice; Pirate Compare and Contrast)