Set Your Purpose!

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SWBAT actively engage in group read-alouds with purpose.

Big Idea

Give students a REASON to listen... and they will!

Why This Lesson?

1 minutes

Our students have a tough time paying attention during read-alouds.  So, we need to find a way to keep them engaged.  Once you set the purpose for them, they will indeed be more interested and invested!  In the end, it's a win/win for all of us when we can read and our students will truly listen! 
Here is the reason why I think that setting the purpose really works!

Instructional Process

10 minutes

Before reading a story, I always set the purpose.  I do this because it gives them a reason to listen.  I give positive recognition to those students who are following directions and looking for the purpose; all students then want to be involved!

Sample Lesson

10 minutes

For this particular lesson, I wanted students to really listen and focus on the words. 
So, I set this purpose: "I want you to figure out who I am talking about in this story."

I used the book, Owen & Mzee, by Hatkoff, Hatkoff and Kahumbu.
*I disguised the covers of this book with newspaper so my students would not be able to see anything.  This helped them really listen throughout the lesson.

Once I told them the purpose and got out my disguised book, I began to read.
(This book doesn't have page numbers, but I read the page with the large picture of Owen and Mzee keeping cool in the pond and the small picture of Owen arriving when he depended on Mzee for a sense of security.)
"As the weeks went on, everyone watched in wonder as Owen and Mzee spent more time together." (wait time) "They wallowed in the pond together, ate together, and slept side by side." (wait time)
"Mzee's companionship seemed to be helping Owen heal from the trauma of his difficult experiences." (wait time)

At this point, I had students go back to their seats and draw Owen and Mzee, as they visualized them.  As they illustrated, I read the same passage once more.

Once all students had drawn what they visualized, I called them all back to the front carpet.

I re-read the passage once more while I showed them the cover.  Most of them were shocked to see that Owen and Mzee were a turtle and a hippo! 

Many students had drawn illustrations of friends or people appearing to care for each other or be friends, but NONE of them had drawn animals!

At this point, I re-read the passage to them again.  After that, we talked about certain words that would have clued us in to the fact that Owen and Mzee were animals.  We talked about the vocabulary words: wallowed and companionship.  We discussed how the word companionship could key us in to the fact that they were friends, while wallowing in the pond isn't something most people would do. 

In the end, students really listened to my passage.  Then, we worked on a little vocabulary.  Finally, they were ready to jump in and truly be engaged with the story!

Once we have completed this and students have really participated in listening to the story, I allow them to go back and re-do their illustrations.  At this point, we talk about how illustrations or photographs are made to support the words that are written- they come after the words.

After I have done this lesson once, I like to post my What's the purpose reference chart for students to see and use as a reminder throughout the year.

Ongoing Practice

10 minutes

Here are some activities that I like to have the students participate in intermittently throughout the year to extend and/or strengthen “finding your purpose:”

-Show a random picture and have the students find the main idea (e.g. a picture of many types of animals could have the theme of a zoo or jungle or simply animals).
-Give students a list of items from the story and have them find the theme they'll soon be reading about.
-Give students a “mystery bag” of items that are related to the story and have them relate the items in order to build background knowledge before reading.
-Give students random words from the story and have them connect them to each other.