Volcanoes: Main Ideas & Socratic Seminar Continued

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SWBAT continue to analyze text by identifying and discussing multiple main ideas in a complex text.

Big Idea

Preparing for the seminar takes time, but is well worth the wait!

Cue Set

5 minutes

Yesterday, we began a lesson on analyzing main ideas in the text Volcanoes by Seymour Simon.  Today, we continue that lesson.  Originally, I planned this lesson as a 1-day lesson, but quickly realized that the second read would take a full day by itself due to the complex nature of the text and skill.  Today, we focus exclusively on preparing for socratic seminar.  

Since this is day 2, I want to spend the majority of the time in the guided practice (finishing the second read in partners) and in the independent practice (the actual seminar).  

For the cue set, scholars Rally Robin (go back and forth with their parter) to exchange all of the main ideas that they found yesterday.  I pull 2 friends from my cup to share and take 3 volunteers.  - This holds scholars accountable and it also ensures that I randomly call on students. Students love to volunteer so that they can participate in the Rally Robin Showdown.  

Teaching Strategy

10 minutes

Yesterday I noticed that scholars were writing the most important word or phrase of the section rather than writing the main IDEA of the section.  I think this stems from us identifying and defining that key vocabulary yesterday.  So, today, I plan to clear up that misunderstanding.  

First, scholars copy the following definition: 

Main ideas are the main points of a text or the sub-topics of a text.   

Then I ask them to reflect on the following - Are the following main ideas? 

1. Mount Saint Helen's 

2. Iceland's volcanoes 

3. Hawaii's volcanoes

I help them to understand that these are important words/phrases in that section, but you need to ask yourself What is the author trying to teach me about volcanoes?  to hit the full main idea.  

Then, I ask them to ask themselves that question What is the author trying to teach me about volcanoes? to change the two statements above into main ideas.  

It might look/sound something like this -

1. Mount Saint Helen's: a history & description of the eruption.  

2. & 3. Volcanic islands and how they were formed. 

Finally, I model reading a few more pages of the text and I ask myself, what is this section mostly about?  What is the author trying to teach or show me about volcanoes? Then, I tag the place that I find this in the text and I record on our graphic organizer

Guided Practice

20 minutes

During the guided practice, scholars split into heterogeneous partnerships.  Above grade level readers read with grade level readers, grade level readers read with below grade level readers. I do not pair above with below as that can be very frustrating for both scholars.  Scholars are able to get up and move to a comfy place in the classroom so that they can stretch a bit and change scenery.  This enhances engagement and can inspire creativity.  

Scholars complete reading the text and continue to jot down thinking on their note taking template and mark books with blue post-it notes.  I pull a small group of my ELL scholars who need more support accessing the text and identifying the main ideas.  Here are some examples of partner reading and more partner reading.  


55 minutes

This time is the actual seminar.  Since this is the second time that we've done the seminar, we spend about 5 minutes practicing how to arrange our desks.  There are two circles (one inside of another larger circle).  Scholars who are participating in the discussion are in the inner circle. Scholars who are watching/listening and evaluating the discussion sit on the outside of the circle.  Click here to see a sample of the seminar room arrangement.  As we continue to learn about seminar, our discussion groups grow, but since we are just learning, we keep each group to four scholars.  

Scholars in the inner circle discuss the following questions: 

1. What is the text mostly about? 

2. Summarize the author's main points. 

Here is a video of me Giving directions before seminar.  

Scholars in the outer circle give an individual rating to their partner (person sitting directly across from them) and an overall rating for the group.  The rating is a simple fist to five.  Five indicating everyone participates, discussion remains on topic, participants respectfully agree/disagree, discussion is interesting,and participants remain attentive. Here is one student completing rating scale.  

We will do three discussions each lasting 5 minutes so that each group of scholars have an opportunity to discuss.  As scholars discuss, they can continue to take notes on their note taking template.  Completed note taking templates are a part of their checklist items for the week. Scholars in the outer circle can also use a hot seat to add a single comment to the discussion.  Click here to see the hot seat in action.  Also, we will debrief each discussion for 3 minutes before we switch to the next one.