Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time. This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.
Since the Common Core places a stronger emphasis on informative text writing, as well as writing across and within content areas, students will be working on this cross-curricular project that covers language arts and science. The science teacher and I want students to see the importance of writing in different subject areas. This Funky Elements Project does just that.
Each student was previously assigned an element in their science class. Students research their element based on the criteria given to them from this handout: Funky Element Research Requirements. There are various aspects of their element that they need to research and find information on. Once students complete that research, they will then use that information to create an informative text piece in which they inform a reader about their element. They will either create an informative text piece through web-sites such as Weebly or Webs, or through iBooks author.
Today's lesson is basically myself giving students a brief outline of the expectations for informative text piece so they have an understanding of what they will need to produce. The teaching strategy is just direct instruction as I talk about the project and students listen. I pull up the Funky Elements Project Description on the Smartboard. Students can view this either on the Smartboard or following along on the iPads we have in class or their own devices. I go through each step of the writing process for this project. I explain each step and students listen to the criteria and expectations. Students jot down any notes they need to assist them as I explain the project. Their notes can either be in their notebook, agendas, or in their own devices. At times, this helps as a brainstorming session for students to begin think about what their first step will be once they finish their research.
Students struggle with understanding a project this big. They can understand the what but not necessarily the how. In this case, the what is the informative text and the how is the process to get to that final piece. Since there are different components I give them time to the whole class I answer questions. Most of the questions revolve around the grading of the piece, so I also review the Informative Text Rubric. I explain each part of the rubric so they have an understanding of how they will be assessed. I begin to show them brief examples of the work they will be completing so they can see and have a general idea of the work they will be doing. This video discuss the example I show students: Student Example Informative Text Piece and here is a link to it: Palladium Student Example.
We will spend the next few weeks learning about the text features of informative writing so they will hopefully have a mastery of them so they can apply them as they create their own informative text focusing on an element from the periodic table.