We begin our lesson by rally-robining the components of a strong PCR. Here is one students sharing one way a PCR can be strong. I've taught scholars that all PCR's must have A-Answer, S- Support (evidence from the text, can be summary of important ideas and DIRECT quotes), L- Link (tells how the evidence supports their answer, usually includes some type of inferencing), R-Re-state the answer in your closure. Scholars might also say that a strong response is well-organized, it has a clear beginning, middle and end. It stays on topic and only includes the most important information to answer the question. Check out these ASLR reproducibles.
After the Rally Robin, I show scholars 2 sample PCRs from yesterday's lesson closure. I show scholars the responses of students in my other class so that they do not recognize handwriting or no one shouts out - "that one is mine!" I ask scholars to evaluate, of the two PCR's, which one is stronger and why? What does each PCR need to make it stronger? Click here for a student response.
Scholars have 2 minutes to reflect individually, 1 minute to chat in groups, then I pull 2 friends from my cup and I take 3 volunteers.
The purpose of this time is to review what makes a PCR strong and also to model how to give some feedback and guidance regarding their PCR's that they will complete today.
I keep this short & sweet today because I've taught PCR writing explicitly in MANY other lessons. I model how to use the Venn diagram to help me begin to write my PCR. I pause after writing the first few sentences and ask scholars what I need to do to make my response stronger. I take 2 friends from my cup and 1 volunteer. You can continue to model your response or you can gradually release to guided or independent practice depending on the needs of your students. As I model, I encourage scholars to write along with me, that way they have a strong model of solid writing as they move into the guided practice. Sometimes, they can use direct phrases from my PCR to help them start their sentences.
At this point, my scholars are ready for some group practice!
During the guided practice today, scholars work in post-it note groups to create strong PCR responses. I use post-it note groups to get scholars to interact with new and different friends. Each scholar has a different post-it note stuck to their desk. The size, shape and color of the post-it note determines what group they work in. Post-it note groups gives scholars a chance to get up and move around a bit. Scholars work together to create 1 PCR response to the following question:
How is the overall structure of Volcanoes the same or different from Eye of the Storm? Use evidence from BOTH texts to support your response.
Scholars are responsible for handing in their individual PCR too so even if they are not writing on the chart paper, they still are responsible for their own work. Scholars use the venn diagram that they created yesterday to help them begin their PCR. Here is an example of a Group writing PCR.
As scholars work in small groups, I pull a cohort of ELL scholars and other scholars who need more support with their individual responses (this group is determined from the closure yesterday). Also, I circulate and provide support to other partnerships. Click here for an example of a group interview.
Scholars have 20 minutes to create their PCRs in their groups. Then, at the end of that time, scholars have a gallery walk. They walk around the room and leave roses (positives) and thorns (areas to improve) for each group. I remind them that as they walk around the room they READ, THINK, then WRITE. I model how to leave a strong feedback. I remind them that saying things like, "nice work!" is not particularly strong feedback. It must be specific and related to what makes a PCR strong.
During this time scholars rotate through 2 stations. I start the time by reviewing our checklist items for the week and explicitly state what should be completed by the end of the day. This holds scholars accountable to their work thereby making them more productive. Then, the ELL teacher and I share the materials that our groups will need to be successful (i.e. a pencil and your book baggies). Then, I give scholars 20 seconds to get to the place in the room where they will be for the first rotation. The first scholars who are there with all materials they need receive additions on their paychecks or positive PAWS.
During the rotations for this lesson, my small group objective today is to identify the overall text structure in 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 overall text structure. 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.