The idea here is to help scholars take all that they discussed throughout the week and apply it to a prose constructed response. I have some scholars who are super strong in discussion, but have difficulty putting all of their thoughts onto paper. The idea here is that scholars have the opportunity to practice translating all of their great thinking into a well-developed written response.
Click here to hear more of my rationale regarding PCR writing after the seminar.
We begin our lesson by rooting ourselves in what makes a PCR strong.
Scholars have 1 minute to jot down what makes a PCR strong.
I then show scholars 3 examples of student work from our test last week. In their groups, they discuss what makes the responses strong and what could make them stronger. Click here to see a group discussing.
I am looking for the following:
1. It answers the question
2. Direct quotes support the answer (and relate to it!)
3. It explains HOW the quote supports the answer
4. There is a clear closure to the answer
As groups discuss, I circulate and provide scaffolding in terms of questioning. After they discuss in groups, I take 3 friends from my cup and 2 volunteers to discuss what makes a PCR strong.
I explain that all week long we've discussed the text Volcanoes by Semour Simon and today we're going to practice answering a really tough question about the text in writing.
-Question: Summarize Volcanoes by Semour Simon. Be sure to include how the key details support the main ideas. Use evidence from the text to support your summary.
I model how to read a tough question by:
1. Read the question
2. Underline key words that help me know what the question means. Substitute simpler words that you know mean the same thing as more complex words (i.e. quotes for evidence).
3. Visualize what I think the question means
I explain that the first step in creating a strong PCR is making sure that you know what the question is actually asking you to do. Then, you can go to the text to help you find your answer.
I model how to begin to deconstruct this question. I say things like, "summarize is an important word. I know that I'm going to have to mention the topic, main ideas and some supporting details. Hm, I think I should draw a graphic organizer, that way I won't forget any of my thoughts!" Click here to see unpacking the question on the smart board.
Once we understand what the question means and I've shown them how to begin thinking about answering the question, scholars are ready to take a try on their own.
In small groups, scholars work to create a response that is on a dry erase board. This allows scholars to erase easily and helps them to evaluate and fix up later in the lesson. Scholars have 20 minutes to create their response to the PCR. All scholars are responsible for copying the response in their notebook that way they have it for reference.
My ELL co-teacher and I strategically place ourselves at 2 tables to help all learners contribute to the discussion.
After 20 minutes, scholars have 5 minutes to get up and walk around the room. This is called a gallery walk. Students comment on one another's work. We have a VERY structured routine where scholars first read, then think then write so that their comments are relevant and not superficial.
At the end of the walk we have a 5 minute discussion about what we noticed. We talk about strong responses, helpful comments and I give scholars a brief chance to incorporate some of their friends feedback.
During the rotations for this lesson, we first review the checklist for independent time. My small group objective today is to summarize books that are on each group's highest instructional level. Scholars read a portion of the same book (different for each group depending on reading level, but the same text is read in each group). Then we discuss summarizing. For my higher groups, we will actually compose a PCR response.
After the first rotation, I do a rhythmic clap to get everyone's attention. Scholars place hands on head and eyes on me so I know they are listening. Then they point to where they go next. I give them 20 seconds to get there. Again, scholars who are at the next station in under 20 seconds with everything they need receive a positive PAW or a paycheck addition. We practice rotations at the beginning of the year so scholars know if they are back at my table, they walk on the right side of the room, if they are with the ELL teacher, they walk on the left side of the room and if they are at their desks, they walk in the middle of the room. This way we avoid any collisions.
At the end of our rotation time I give scholars 20 seconds to get back to their desks and take out materials needed for the closing part of our lesson. Timing transitions helps to make us more productive and communicates the importance of our learning time.