I start the lesson by projecting the picture of a "sea serpent" on the board and asking students what they think it is a picture of?
Discussions ensue about everything from a long snake to a rubber hose to a alien creature. (imagination is such a great tool!)
I tell them that this is a picture of a large seaweed root ball that someone posted on the internet as a sea monster. I then ask if anyone thinks there are sea monsters in the waters around the globe? Someone invariably mentions the Loch Ness Monster:) which is a good intro into the story line.
I tell them that they are going to read a tale from Japan titled "The Tale of Oki Islands". I then introduce that we learn about story ideas when we read them more than once. This helps our mind to create the correct pictures for the events that happen like watching a play or movie.
I want to keep their interest, so I tell them that there is a sea monster, a beautiful young girl and a man who is a prisoner on a faraway island called Oki. (just enough to get them interested...and have buy-in for the reading and research activity)
Then I give the objective challenge that they are going to skim and scan the first read of the article to respond to three True/False questions on the text.
Introduction to why I chose this text and my direction taken with the lesson unit
I ask students what they know about Japan. They don't know as much as I had expected except for the location, language and some food items. Good to know because that means I will need to monitor their understanding more carefully and probably frontload some information they would need to understand the story or traditions of the time.
I share that when we read we combine what we know "Schema" with what we read to create connections with the text. BUT to do this we need to understand what we are reading - we need to read the article twice - First time for basic meaning / Second time for deeper understanding
I ask students to look at the questions at the back of the story (great test taking strategy to model) and we read them together. I then tell them that they are going to read quickly by skimming the text looking for key words to identify where these answers can be found within the story.
I read the first question again and project the story on the board. I model reading for key words by thinking aloud "I need to look for a man or father's name and a crime committed or someone doing something against the law"
Then read the first paragraph - rereading the line "By some misfortune, Oribe Shima had offended the emperor and had been banished to one of the Oki Islands, a group of rocky islands off the coast of Japan"
I want them to understand how to process what they read to determine if it is useful information - still early in the year so they are not there yet. I continue sharing my thought processes and wonder someone offended emperor and was banished to island - Could be her dad? I ask - what can we do to find out if its her dad or not? Students share that we should read more. Yeah - just what I wanted them to say! We read and they stop me and share that they are sure it is her dad now - if they don't point out the evidence this is a good place to ask them how they know? or what words in the text supported this opinion?
Now that I have their attention, I go back and reread the question and ask - "Do we have enough information to say he was a criminal? (correct response is no - but go with the class consensus and debate at the end of the lesson if they go for yes - mine were split 50/50).
I have them complete the same routine and sharing strategies with the next two questions with their table partners. I share the expectation that they are to highlight and number where they found the support in the text.
We come back together when the timer sounds to debate the validity of their answers and the strength of the evidence they presented. I ask probing questions to get them really evaluating the explicit words stated in the text. I ask what if...? Does anyone disagree and why? Could it also mean?
Now release them to research and identify the evidence in the story for the next seven T/F questions and two written response questions on the second worksheet.
Circulate to encourage deep evaluation and to identify struggling readers. Those who struggle can also be partnered with stronger readers and have the text read aloud.
Signal students to come back together and ask them to correct their responses together. Debate the ones they disagree with and let them voice their evidence. If you have questions that have the class split on T/F decisions save them for the discussion at the end of the unit so that they can build more understanding of the story events.
Now ask students to share their responses to the good choice/ bad choice - consequences questions.
After this discussion close by asking why they think she did it? (save girl, save dad, depression)
Leaving this a little open-ended is also a good way to build interest for the second reading.
There were some adaptations I made to this lesson that I discuss in this video clip