Common Core Connection:
I know teachers have always put an emphasis on having students identify elements of a story. However Common Core goes a little farther than who is the character and what is the setting, problem, and solution. It requires students to look at and analyze how the story elements are not only connected but how they change over time. In first grade, students need to be taught how to look at things like character growth and the evolution of events so that comprehending these elements on a deep level becomes automatic. In this lesson students are introduced to making logical inferences about the characters, setting, problem and solution, which helps to support deep understanding of story elements.
In today’s lesson I wanted to give my students more practice making logical, meaningful inferences about the meaning of the unfamiliar words in the text and the story elements.
To do this I read Possum Magic, my students then worked in pairs to figure out word phrases from the story along with deeper meanings about the development of events and characters. During this activity they were required to read closely to determine what the selected text said explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
I began this lesson by reviewing that predictions are what we think will happen in a story before we read that part and that good ones are based on what we already learned from the text. I reminded my students that a prediction is more than a guess; it needs to make sense to what is being read. I continued by reminding my little ones that an inference is when we take clues from a story and put them with what we know to figure out what an author means. I finished this part of the lesson by telling my students that today they would listen to a story, and then, with their partner, they would re-read part of it. As they re-read, they would use their skills to make an inference to figure out what the author means.
To check their understanding I instructed my students to whisper in their hands (Demonstration: Whisper to Me) the answer to this question: What is an inference? I then used the magic cup (Demonstration: Magic Cup) to select a student to answer this question. My students agreed with the student who summed up inferences well by showing a thumb up (Demonstration: Thumb Up, Thumb Down).
I complemented them on their good listening skills and we continued the lesson.
I then held up Possum Magic and asked my students what they predicted this story was going to be about. After giving them a moment to think about this, I instructed them to partner share with their table partners. When my students were finished sharing I used the magic cup to select a partner pair to share their answer with the class. These students shared that they thought the story was going to be about funny looking animals. I only asked for one prediction because I only wanted my students to focus on one idea. "What are these animals doing?" I asked. This time all my students responded throwing or dropping stars. With that I said, "let’s find out ..."
Before I started reading I reminded my students when they heard a word or phrase they were unfamiliar with, or where the author did not exactly say what she meant, to think about it and ask:
I then read Possum Magic all the way through, stopping only to show the pictures. When I finished reading I gave my students a moment to think about a part that they used an inference strategy to help them figure out the meaning of the story. After a moment I instructed my students to share with their table partners what part they made an inference with.
When they were finished sharing I used the magic cup to select a student pair to share their inference with the class. These two students shared that they were pretty sure most of the stuff the possums were eating was food, but they had no idea what type of food. The rest of the class showed me they agreed with a thumb up. I asked is it important to know about all the food? (Now this next part surprised me, because you could almost see the eye rolling) Several hands shot up, and a few students called out, “yes”! I asked: Why is the food is so important? I called on one of the students who had his hand up. This student reported, “The food is important to the baby possum so she can see who she is. The food caused the problem and it fixed it.” The rest of my students were quite animate that this was correct. I had to agree, and I praised them for making a strong inference. It was at this point another student made this comment, “We still don’t know what the food is.” I had anticipated this and was prepared with a slide presentation of food that I quickly showed my students before moving into the collaborative activity.
Once finished with the slide presentation I had my students stand up and find their reading partners. Once they were partnered and seated in their chairs, I displayed the Possum Magic activity sheet and explained they would work with their partner to re-read the statements from the text to make inferences about how Grandma Poss’ different types of magic related to or changed the characters, setting, problem, or solution in the story.
Before passing out their copies of the activity sheet I used the magic cup to choose a student to restate the directions to the class. Besides passing out the activity sheet, I also passed out a Xeroxed copy of pages 3 and 4 from the text so that my students would have a reference to the colors and sizes being referenced to on the activity sheet.
As my students began working, I met with each group to monitor their progress and answer any questions they had.
At the end of 15 minutes, I checked their progress, noting nearly all of the student pairs were finished or close to being finished. I used the magic cup to call on 4 student pairs to share their answers from the activity sheet. Each pair answered one question.
Once finished with this activity we transitioned into the independent practice part of the lesson.
During this time my students are re-grouped in their leveled reading groups and rotate every 15 to 20 minutes through reading/writing activities. One activity I always include in this rotation is journal writing. Journal writing helps students understand and analyze what they have just completed during the guided practice and collaborative part of the lesson.
The prompt I put on the Promethean board: Explain how re-reading and talking with your partner helped you make better inferences about the characters and setting of this story.
I always do a quick journal check when my students rotate to my differentiated reading group.
For a sticker my students predicted what type of adventures Hush would have now that she was visible.