Common Core Connection and Lesson Overview
This lesson begins with the lesson image being projected on the Promethean board, because the little boy looks so surprised. It sets the tone for the students to write about a great day. I say I wonder what he saw that made him look that way. Have you ever had a great day? The students are in the lounge for this section, then they move to their desks for guided practice, for the partner work they are at the center tables, and the lesson closes back on the lounge. This movement seems to keep my first graders paying attention, because the attention span of a first graders is about twenty minutes.
Most of the lesson is done in small groups that remain consistent even though there are transitions during the lesson. The groups are mixed ability based on their oral reading fluency scores on DIBELS. These heterogeneous groups allow my students to engage in higher order thinking activities as they explain things to their peers and justify their reasoning. Each group has a peanut butter partner and a jelly partner. Labeling the partners allows me to organize their conversations and group roles.
After I ask my students the question above to get their attention, I tell a story about my best day ever. Then, I give my students about one minute to think about their best day. Then the students tell their partners their own story. I listen closely so I can check their understanding, but I also want to share some great stories I hear. I think this helps build our supportive and caring classroom culture.
Then I go through the lesson plan. We will write a best day ever paragraph together. Then you will do your own and allow your peer to evaluate it. After you make changes you will share it with the class, and we will give each other feedback. So, now I ask the students to say the lesson objective, I can write a story using the words first, next, and last The students say this three times. They echo it, tell a friend, and then say it with me. It seems to help the students remember the goal.
Now we move to the desks for students to engage in guided practice and we create a story about the best day ever using responses from students in the class. This is one of the last lessons in the unit on narrative writing, and I am expecting my students to have a concept of each component of a narrative paragraph at this point. But, if I see somebody does not I will ask another student to explain it to allow that student to engage in a higher order thinking activity. One thing I try to do is increase the rigor or complexity with each lesson. Although, sometimes I do find that first graders need a lot of practice on one skill.
First off, I ask the students to share with their peanut butter jelly partner what a topic sentence should do. They should say something like it tells the reader what the paragraph will be about. Then I ask some one who gets close to that definition to share their understanding. Next, the students discuss a topic sentence. After one minute or so one student shares their idea, other students will agree or disagree, and we have a discussion to determine what the topic sentence should say. I am moving to more of a facilitator that the person with all the answers. I write the sentence that the class agrees upon. When I write I do ask what kind of letter do I begin the sentence with? My students all shout capital because they have heard this so many times, but it does engage them and teach grammar. What kind of punctuation mark and I going to use? Is this a asking or telling sentence and how do you know? The students use the rules of conversation to respond at this point. If some one is talking then I just ask the other to wait and they can share next.
Then the students discuss the what the first sentence should say and what might they do first in the their best day. After they discuss, one person shares and the rest of the class agrees or disagree using thumbs up or down. I add my own comments and we move on to the next sentence.
Now, we are on the sentence that needs to begin with the word then or something similar. After the students discuss what we might write I ask one person to share their idea and why they feel that sentence should be next. Asking the student to justify engages them in a higher order thinking activity. Then I add the sentence to the board and explain the grammar as I write to model proper writing. Well, sometimes I do write messy and I am not modeling handwriting. I actually do tell them this, because it takes me forever to write in the perfect teacher print. It is amazing that I write so messy, we never practice handwriting in isolation, and most of my class has nice handwriting. What I am trying to say it that we want to get great ideas, and move it along instead of spending forever making perfect letters.
Then the class will discuss a sentence that might begin with next. Somebody shares aloud, and the rest of the class begins a discussion to agree or disagree. Once the class agrees on a sentence, I add it to our paragraph on the board.
Last the students talk about the closing sentence and I ask a volunteer to share what they think is a good closing sentence and tell us why. Using thumbs up or down we agree or disagree. Then I add the sentence to our paragraph (Board Work). I make it clear that we have all the components of a paragraph by pointing out each part in the Rubric and reading it in our paragraph.
Next the class has to get up and move as we transition to the center tables. Then I give explicit directions on how to use the rubric and the model to make their own paragraph. My students usually forget to indent, so I remind them and ask them to say I will indent. It's just a fun way to remind the students.
Now the class has ten minutes to write their own paragraph. I walk around and help students get started by asking questions. What are you going to write about? How did you feel? What did you do first? I find it can be hard for students to get started writing, but once they get started they are okay.
After ten minutes the students evaluate their peers' (Peer Evaluation) work using a rubric. They put a 1 or a 0 on the line. This is very casual and I tell my students that it is a work in progress and we will work on it. If you get a 0 then add whatever you need to. We often use the symbol ^ instead of erasing or we might even draw lines. It saves time.
This is the close to the last lesson where student will be writing about a personal experience in their narrative writing experience. So, I am expecting a great discussion about what we can take from this lesson and the past few lessons. What have we learned that we can use in our future? Students talk to their peanut butter jelly partner and I listen. This part engages everyone in the class. Then I share somethings I heard and ask other students to share their ideas.
Last, we chant the lesson goal because it helps students understand. I can write a narrative piece using the words first, next, and last.