Summary and Context
Today, students will be engaged in a read aloud with Odd Velvet by Mary E. Witcomb. I will be asking the students text dependent questions about every page. I created these questions based on helping the students answer key details about the narrative elements such as: setting, characters, and plot. Also, the questions are geared to have them think and reflect about whether the main character, Velvet, is really odd. They will need to respond in complete sentences and with evidence from the text. In answering questions and thinking about text evidence, the students are diving into Reading Standard 2.1.
Why else am I reading this story? In matching the readers to the text, I felt that this text would maintain their interest and let us have a conversation about how this piece of fiction differs from the other fiction we have read such as fairytales and folktales. Additionally, it allows us to have a conversation about how to accept one another.
After the reading, they will go back to their tables and work with a semantic map of the word, "odd." They will be asked to remember other words or phrases that helps to describe the word, "odd." If the students cannot provide examples, then the teacher will go back and reread from a couple of pages that demonstrate the word odd in more than one way. For example, on the one of the pages (the pages are not numbered) the word "strangeness" appears. Students may remember this or not. This is a good example to give the students. The teacher will provide four examples to give enough context clues and/or information for students to come up with their own definition of the word independently in their response journals. Students may share out loud their definitions of the word.
Then, the students will spend some writing in their response journals. They will be reflecting on the questions: Is Velvet really odd? Why or why not? They will need to provide evidence from the story to support their answers.
Finally, students will gather on the carpet, and those who volunteer will get the opportunity to share their thinking.
I start with the students on the rug listening to the story Odd Velvet and answer text dependent questions about the key details. These questions ask explicitly what the test says is happening since it is the first read (later we will dive into analyzing the author's purpose and making inferences from the text). These surface type questions set the foundation for deeper questions tomorrow.
Students sit at their tables and work on a semantic map with the word "odd." I want my students to have a deeper understanding of the word. On the white board, I draw a circle. I write the word in the middle. Then, I draw four other circles around the middle circle. I ask the students to provide words and phrases from the story that describe or exemplify the word. Students will use these context clues to form their own definition of the word. Once the information is written on the board, the students will copy that information in their response journals and write their own definition.
I have found that it is important to help students understand how to use the information given in a book to form their own definitions about words. Yes, it is still important to teach them dictionary skills, but working with context clues helps student "stretch" their thinking and gives them the tools to develop their vocabularies based on the texts they read. This story gives strong context clues for students to figure out what the word "odd" means. That is something we as teachers need to keep in mind when we use this vocabulary strategy. We need to ask, "Are there enough clues for students to use to help define a word?" This is essential early on.
After students finish, they have an opportunity to share their definitions and get feedback. Here are examples of their work:
Next, the students will respond in their writing journals. They will reflect on the questions: Is Velvet really odd? Why or why not?
In their responses, they will need to provide evidence from the text. I am looking for students to answer in complete sentences. They should write between 4-5 sentences. As they work, I walk around and monitor their task, giving support to those who need it.
This writing opportunity allows the students to demonstrate what they have understood about the topic at hand and it allows me to see who got it and who didn't. Now this is the first read of the story, so I am also looking to see the depth of their knowledge of the key ideas and details. We will work with this book for 4 days. On the 4th day, I will ask the question: What are your thoughts about the book, Odd Velvet? It will be interesting to see how their knowledge deepens.
Here is some of their work:
Students will be gathered back on the rug. Those who wish to volunteer and share their writing response will be given the opportunity to do so. During this time, students will be given feedback from their peers about whether they are providing evidence or not in their statements.
To help students internalize the shifts of the Common Core, it becomes necessary for them to take ownership of the process. If the students need to let their classmates know whether they are providing evidence from the story or not, then the implications are that everyone is accountable for paying closer attention to what is being taught.
This time on the carpet also allows to bring closure to the lesson.