To be more successful in today's lesson I ask the students to remind me and each other what we have previously read or discussed. The more they can recall the more successful they will be with reading today's section. My students are learning that this discussion is how we activate our prior knowledge and that it is a pre-reading strategy.
I try not to lead this part of the discussion, but allow students to lead and add to the discussion. A method I use is called "popcorn." This is a method to keep a discussion going with very little help from me. The question I ask is what they thought from yesterday's reading that was interesting or relevant to understanding today's reading. I let them take over the conversation and only help it along with prompting.
For example, students brought up the fact that Columbus was finally going to get to take his voyage west. We talked about the monarchs and their role in the voyage. Students also brought up Columbus' has lost his wife and has left his son at a monastery.
In today's reading we will be learning all of the different items that Columbus took with him. We will discuss the ships and the seaman and jobs that were aboard those ships. As we read I ask questions and lead small discussions. More than anything I am trying to prompt them along into the why's of the items and personnel.
Students are fascinated with this part of the book. Due to their limited prior knowledge it is important for me to add and explain further items or people that might not be known. For example, it talks about the ships needing ballast stones. I keep my iPad handy for these moments when not only an explanation is due, but a picture will help them understand the purpose. I explain that a ballast stone is what they kept in the ship to keep it balanced. Thy were large and heavy, I then show them a picture using the iPad. I continue this as we move through the reading.
When we get to the end of the section I exclaim how much information there was in just a few paragraphs. I also ask if any of the details from today's reading might need to be added to our concept wall. Immediately they start shouting out information about items, the ships, and the crew.
This is right where I wanted them to be, excited about all the new information and how we can use it to understand. We are going to need to add the information to our concept wall. I pose the question, "How can we do this and still keep our wall precise and neat?" I tell the class that I know a way and know they have seen a text feature that can help us keep all the details neat and easy to read. I then challenge the class to figure out what text feature might help us do this.
The first couple of text features given are incorrect and I just roll with it. The third student brought up bullets, and I asked why they thought bullets would work. She explained to the class that using bullets we could list all the items and it would be easy to make. I ask the class if they agree or disagree. The majority of them agree and I confirm that this would be a great way to list all of the things we have learned. Bullets will also be easy to read and easy to make.
I model how I can create bullets to list items. The model I use is from the contract that Queen Isabella made with Columbus. I demonstrate how I can bullet all of the terms in the contract. I can use the bullet and then add the term behind it. I make sure to point out that they need to only add the most important detail and that it has to be precise and not too wordy.
To practice the strategy we create bullets together. I pass out sticky notes to everyone and we title them items, crew, and ships. We then use our text and I ask students to guide me to what I should be adding. I use the document camera so that they can follow along as I write. This guided practice allows every student to create a useful list of the details. I then have a few students create the bulleted lists that need to go on our concept wall.
After the lists have been created I ask students to now chose a list to write a response about. They need to take the list and give information describing the items on the list. They are allowed to use their books, but they need to make sure to use their own words. They will then attach their lists to their response so that I can assess the lesson.