Common Core Connection and Introduction
This lesson begins with the class seated all close on the lounge and I get them engaged using the lesson image. First graders need frequent transitions because of their attention span so we move to the desks which are in small groups for the guided practice. Then the students move to the center tables for their partner work, and last they reflect and close back at the lounge.
Students are in small group seating in all settings, because teaching to Common Core standards means we need to promote student collaboration and partner work. Students learn from each other and support each other in their questions. Collaboration provides opportunities for students to engage in higher order thinking as they explain information to their peers and use text evidence to support their choices.
The grouping is mixed to support peer collaboration, and allow the student to help each other. I base the grouping on their DIBELS oral reading fluency score. It is fun to label one partner the peanut and one the jelly. When I want to make sure both partners are contributing I will tell the peanut butter partner to teach or tell the jelly partner something and vice verse. Labeling the partner is a nice way to organize collaboration or discussion. I like to promote 100% engagement, and using mixed grouping can help create a completely engaged class.
This is a time when I like to activate my students thinking and engage the whole class. Projecting the lesson image is a fun was to get students excited, because it is so cute and funny. I try to pick topics that every student in the class can relate to and being scared is one of that we can all relate to. This makes the lesson personally relevant to each child. So, I ask the students to discuss with their peanut butter jelly partner a time when they were scared or sad and an adult made them feel better.
Since I want to keep the energy up, the focus on the lesson goal, and move the class as fast as possible I ask them to chant three time I can write to explain as they move to the desks. Restating the lesson goal also gives the students more opportunities to speak in a complete sentence and it improves their comprehension.
After everyone is seated, I begin to explain that we are going to write a narrative together and it is going to be about a time I was sad. The prompt (The Writing Prompt) is in the resource section. To get the student to predict and engage every learner I ask them to discuss a time they think I might have been sad. This makes a connection between me and my students. I allow one person to share their prediction and I share my story about moving schools and doing bad in Algebra. I think relating a personals story makes learning more relevant to students real lives. Then I explicitly tell the class the first sentence is called the topic sentence and it needs to state the purpose of the paragraph. It is also important to go over the idea of indenting and how we use it to see where a new paragraph begins. First graders also have to be reminded about not starting a new sentence on each line. I say we start a new sentence when the previous one ends. Another thing first graders sometimes do is put a number by the sentence, so it is important to remind them to not do that. I ask the class what a good topic sentence might be for the story I told. To engage every student in thinking I let the students talk to their peanut butter jelly partner about a good topic sentence. When I stop the class I just say please bring your conversations to a close. One way I switch it up is to simply state what I heard several groups say and ask the class to agree or disagree, which is a nice way to encourage discourse. If nobody will agree or disagree voluntarily I call on somebody. Then I add what I think and once we all agree on a topic sentence I write it on the board. We use thumbs up or down to show whether we agree or not.
Now I share that we have to expand on the topic sentence and tell about what happened and how the adult helped me feel better. Again I ask the students to discuss what I should write next as the detail describing the story. Before I let the class start talking I remind them that theses events have to go in the right order. Whatever happened first has to be written first so the reader can understand the story. After the discussion I call on on person to share their ideas for the first sentence. I put each child's name on a pop sickle stick and draw one to make sure everyone gets the same number of turns. Once you have been called on your name is moved out of the pile until the pile is empty. We agree or disagree using thumbs up or down. Then I allow two other volunteers to add details about what happened next. If we all agree by using thumbs up or down I add it, but if somebody disagrees then I ask them to justify their reasoning. Allowing the students to answer each others questions gives them more higher order thinking activities and I am no longer telling students when they are right or feeding them the answers. In teaching Common Core standards, I find that moving to more of a facilitator role than the one who has all the answers, students are more empowered and learn better. I rarely say answers are right or wrong, too, because I want them to figure it our and persevere through their problems.
Last, we need a closing, and since I am teaching very young writers I go over all the things a closing should do. It needs to sum up the story and let the reader know this is the end. I usually say just restate all that you have said in one sentence. The work (Guided Practice) we create is in the resource section.
As the students transition to their center tables they chant I can write to explain three times. After they are seated I walk around making sure everyone is ready to write about their sad or scared experience. Before they begin writing I clarify that we need one topic sentence, three details, and a closing sentence.
When I am walking around I often stop and ask students to read me their work. The video shos how I question them and never really tell them the answers, but I do let them know when they are wrong. Leading the students to self discovery of mistakes has been a hard thing for me to learn. When struggling I just keep asking questions until my students arrive at the correct answer.
After about fifteen minutes of writing the students reading their work (Student Work) to their partner, and the partner is supposed to give them feedback (Evaluation of Work). Now, I have to model this or they tell their friend they are awesome. I want specific academic comments. For example, I agree that the topic sentence is correct, but I think your details are not in the correct order.
This is everyone's favorite part of the lesson because they get to be the center of attention and share their great work. While practicing their speaking and listening skills, I give the students feedback before, during and after they present (Basic Presentation). Prompting the students to speak loud, hold their papers still, and look at the speaker is a nice proactive way to avoid having to correct misconduct. Depending on time two or three students read their work to the class.
For this style lesson I like to ask the students to share one thing they learned and one thing they want to learn with their partner. It is so interesting to hear what they want to learn. Sometimes I do have to remind the class that what they want to learn should be about writing. It is never a bad idea to be very specific with first graders.
Last we echo the lesson goal because I think it helps students remember the skills. I can write to explain.