The purpose of whole group reading is for the students to gain an understand of "why" Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. This is an odd concept for my ELL students. Many of the hispanic families from Mexico call it "The American Turkey Day". For years many companies along the America/Mexico border gave their employees a free turkey on Thanksgiving. Many of the families never learned why Americans celebrate this holiday.
I will also prompt my students to participate in a group discussion about the content by asking questions. It is important for my ELL students to participate in oral discussions. Discussions help with thier listening and speaking skills. At the end of the lesson we will use our reading and writing skills to produce an opinion text and orally read our writing.
I begin this lesson with my class gathered on the carpet. I show them a picture of the First Thanksgiving. I ask the 5 W's about Thanksgiving.
Who was at the First Thanksgiving? I write their answers on the board.
What did they eat at the First Thanksgiving? I write their answers on the board.
Where was the First Thanksgiving? I write their answers on the board.
When was the First Thanksgiving? I write their answers on the board.
Why did they celebrate the First Thanksgiving? I write their answers on the board.
(I will ask these same answers at the end of the lesson to see if they understand the concept of the American Thanksgiving.)
I then show them a video about the first Thanksgiving. I like to show videos at the beginning of my lesson to "front load" content in a fun way. Then my students have some knowledge about the content as I read to them. Vocabulary is really difficult for my ELL students, showing the video exposes them to vocabulary in a medium that they like to focus on.
My students are still gathered on the carpet and we move to reading of the story.
"In the video we saw different people working together and helping each other grow food and build houses. They celebrated at the end of summer when all the crops had been harvested and the people were ready for winter. We will read about the same things in the story, Thanksgiving Day."
I begin to read the story and stop on the second page. I pull down my large map to show my students where the Pilgrims came from and where the Wampanoag people lived.
"Everyone say; Wampanoag, Wampanoag. This is the name of the people that already lived in America before the Pilgrims came from England." I have them repeat the word to help them remember the word. It is a new and strange vocabulary word. It is through repetition of the vocabulary that helps my students own the vocabulary.
On the third and fourth page it shows the kids making costumes.
"Can you tell me about the clothes that the Pilgrims wore?" Point to the pictures and prompt them.
"Can you tell me what the Wampanoag people wore?" We discuss how different they dress compared to us.
I like to discuss the details of each group of people. Many of my students come from different countries and their traditional clothing is different than what we wear in America. I try to impress upon them that we may be different in some ways, but we are the same in many ways.
We talk about the tenth page and how the Pilgrims got off the boat and gave a prayer of thanks that they lived through the voyage.
On page twelve we discussed how their were no Walmarts or Food City's in America. They had to make or grow everything by themselves. The picture shows the Pilgrims building houses by chopping down trees.
The sixteenth page shows the Wampanoag people teaching the Pilgrims to hunt for food.
The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people helped each other and celebrated their good work by having a celebration that we now call Thanksgiving.
Now I am going to ask you the 5 W's of the story.
Who was at the First Thanksgiving? After they share their answer with their partner, I ask for a few answers and compare them to what they said before the lesson.
What did they eat at the First Thanksgiving? After they share their answer with their partner, I ask for a few answers and compare them to what they said before the lesson.
Where was the First Thanksgiving? After they share their answer with their partner, I ask for a few answers and compare them to what they said before the lesson.
When was the First Thanksgiving? After they share their answer with their partner, I ask for a few answers and compare them to what they said before the lesson.
Why did they celebrate the First Thanksgiving? After they share their answer with their partner, i ask for a few answers and compare them to what they said before the lesson.
This partnering and whole group questioning increases student vocabulary and comprehension about the First Thanksgiving.
While my students are still gathered on the carpet I ask for them to turn away from their partners and look at me.
We are now going to use the circle map to brainstorm what we like about Thanksgiving. Many of us don't celebrate Thanksgiving so I want you to think about what you liked about the First Thanksgiving. I will write all your answers down.
I use the name sticks to choose students names to give me ideas to write on the circle map. I like to use thinking maps and templates because they are visual content organizers that assist the students with writing. Some of my students need prompting and assistance with their answers. I open the book and point to a few things they might like about Thanksgiving.
Now we are done filling out the circle map. I will now model the writing process using the document camera. We will be using story paper for this writing assignment. The first sentence will be I like Thanksgiving ________. I want you all to choose just one thing you like about Thanksgiving. I will come around to help you write your sentence. Remember, after you write your sentence, you will need to draw your picture. If you write about the turkey, what should be in your picture? That's right, a turkey.
When you write your sentence I want you to remember your capitals, spaces and periods. You can sound out your words to write them or I will come by and help you." This early in the year, I will write the word of their choice on a sticky note and give it to them to copy. Copying is a beginning writing skill.
I have a class job for each one of my students. I find it encourages a responsible classroom community. I call on my paper passers to pass out the papers to each table and then call the students one row at a time to get their pencil boxes and begin their writing.
I collect the papers as they finish. The students sit quietly on the carpet reading library books until most of the students are finished with their papers.
We gather on the carpet and listen as each student reads their sentence and shows us their picture.
The assessment piece to my lesson is formative. I will keep samples of students writing to put in their portfolio to show progress, or lack of progress. I love it when they can write down a sentence, drawn an accompanying picture and then orally read the sentence to the whole class. I am able to assess their ability to listen and comprehend the story, assess their writing, grammar and conventions, and then their oral reading ability. My students love to get up and read and show off their work. Most of them are very soft spoken and shy because they are ELL students. But they want to participate. I am so proud of their efforts.