Do you ever get stuck in a rut and seem to do the same thing all the time? Are you sick of doing the comprehension sheets that come with your reading series? You can really do a great deal more with your reading groups and have them practice their writing at the same time.
My class is always writing. I always joke that I make my class write so much that their little hands are going to fall off one day. What I did for this lesson is take the comprehension skill for the week from my basal series (sequencing) and apply that to a writing activity. I previewed the book and also saw that we could apply the skill of cause and effect to our writing. This lesson was intended for my advanced group (see last paragraph below), and as I was planning this lesson I decided I was really going to make them work. Since the Common Core standards are all about finding text evidence to prove your answer, I was going to support less and really make my group find the evidence since I knew they were capable of doing this.
To prepare for this lesson you will need to prepare the 3-flap books for each student. All you need to do is fold a 12 x 18 piece of construction paper vertically. Then fold it into thirds horizontally and cut up on the fold line. I have posted a picture as to what the book should look like here: School Rules Book Example.pdf.
A note about the lessons within this unit: I have an hour to teach 4 small groups each day. Each group gets 15 minutes with me each day. I am writing this lesson as a whole lesson, but I could never get it done with each reading group all in one day. Realistically it took me 3 days to do this lesson with each group. You can easily take this lesson and chunk it out to how it will fit your classroom based on what your district mandates and what time restraints you have in your classroom. Also, this lesson was geared for my advanced-level group. If you would like to see what my on-level groups are doing, see their lesson here.
As I preview the book, I look for what vocabulary needs to be introduced. I make flashcards for the group. I introduce the vocabulary and we discuss each term. We discuss how the vocabulary term relates to our lives. For example, one of the terms was cooperation. After discussing what cooperation meant, we talked about how we could show cooperation.
We then read the story. I said, "This week's skill is sequencing. We use transition words such as First, Next, and Last so that we can understand the order of events better. Who can tell me what might happen if we didn't use transition words? That's right, the reader would get confused."
This is my advanced group, and I really wanted to challenge them. Most of the time, academics come so easily to this group, so I had it in my mind to offer less support and make them do more of the thinking work. This activity was a true close reading activity for this group because it required students to go back into the story and look more closely at the text and pictures in order to write accurately.
After reading the story, I instructed the students that we would be writing about which rules were broken in the correct order. This book also lent itself nicely to the idea of cause and effect so I wanted the students to practice this skill as well. I said, "You are going to go back in the story and find evidence for what rule was broken first and what happened as an effect of that rule being broken." I gave them time to find the evidence and talk about the effect. Then I said, "I want two sentences. The first sentence explains what rule was broken. The second sentence explains the effect of that rule being broken. Don't forget to include your transition word in your first sentence and remember that you are not to copy the author's words exactly. You need to put the evidence in your own words. Does everyone understand what to do?" I then let them illustrate that section before we went on to the next section.
We continued on in this manner for both the second and third rules being broken. You can see this portion of the lesson here School Rules.mp4.
We took a hackey sack. I said, "I am going to throw this to someone. When you catch it you have to tell me which rule was broken and you have to use the transition word. Then you have to tell me what the effect was of the rule being broken."
We threw the hackey sack around and students discussed the sequence of events along with the effects. It was a great way to summarize the lesson.