Today I am going to be explicit when I teach about labels when reading nonfiction. I had trouble reading nonfiction as a child, and you can read about how I feel about this change in the Common Core Standards in my reflection in this section.
In this lesson, standard RI1.5 is addressed because I am teaching students how to use the text feature of labels. This is one of the simplest types of text features, and so, to amp up the rigor, I wanted to move beyond asking students to read a grade level appropriate nonfiction text that contained labels and then have them answer some simple comprehension questions. I wanted to go deeper with this lesson and ask students to apply their understanding. I wanted students to practice close reading by slowing down and gleaning the important information from the text in order to label different parts of an animal themselves. Reading and writing are intimately related, so, with today's lesson, not only are my students practicing close reading and improving their comprehension, but they are also learning an important writing skill of labeling a graphic feature that will prepare them for our nonfiction elephant writing unit.
Today you will need either the Smartboard Nonfiction Text Features.notebook or Activboard Nonfiction Text Features.flipchart lesson titled "Nonfiction Text Features." You will also need a nonfiction text to read to your students that contains the text feature of labels. Finally, you will need to download and copy enough of the student texts. These are called Animal Labels Animal Labels.pdf. There are four different stories for the student work. I have differentiated the stories based on student reading ability. You will want to make enough copies to fit the reading level of each of your students. This is how I copied the stories for my students:
I brought my students to the carpet and said, "Today we are going to learn about an important text feature called labels. When we read nonfiction, the author will label a picture or photo so the reader knows what that is a picture of and/or can see the different parts of the object. This helps the reader to understand both the picture and the text better. I am going to read a nonfiction book now and we are going to talk about the labels in this book." I began reading the book "National Geographic Readers: Frogs" by Elizabeth Carney.
As I was reading, I would stop and ask questions where the students would have to look at the labels in order to answer the question. At one point in the text the author compares frogs and toads. Each picture is labeled. I would ask questions such as, "How are a frog's and toad's skin different? What does a toad's skin have that a frog's skin doesn't? Why do a frog's and toad's skin feel different?" The book was very engaging and my students were eager to answer my questions.
We went through the label activities on the Smartboard. When I created the lesson I took pictures of nonfiction books from my classroom. Not only did we simply label parts of different animals, but we also looked at how authors showed the size of an animal against a ruler, and how wide a wingspan is by labeling the length. We had a wide variety of activities in this guided practice lesson, and I know my students saw many examples within this lesson.
I told my students that they were going to get some practice labeling a picture. I said, "Each reading group is going to get a different story to read. You are going to take the picture and text back to your seat. You will read the text straight through once. On your second reading you will take your highlighter and highlight the details that will help you to label your picture. Last you will take those details and use them to label your picture. Does everyone understand what to do?"
Since I know that my lowest group really struggles with independent work, I brought them back to my reading table and we read the story together three times. This helped to boost their confidence with the task at hand. Since they knew the story pretty well by the time I sent them back to their seats to start highlighting details and doing their labels, they weren't so lost.
After I read the story with my lowest group I circulated around the room just watching what my students were doing. I am really trying to change my role this year and be more of a facilitator than the "expert" with all the answers. When I see my students doing something incorrectly instead of saying, "You're wrong here....", I try to steer them back on track with the use of questions. I do this when they are doing something right, and when they are doing something wrong. They should be able to explain their thinking in both scenarios. In both cases, they have to think about what they're doing and what I'm asking them as they're performing the task.
You can see how my students did with this task by looking at the video Learning How to Label Pictures.mp4 here. It may give you an idea of what this task might look like in your classroom.
As usual, I like my closures to be short and sweet. I wanted to assess what my students took away from the lesson. I have a wonderful teacher aide that works in our teacher work room. She made me a simple poster that looked like a Facebook wall. I gave each student a post it note. I said, "We are going to post on our class Facebook wall. On your "post" tell everyone on the wall what was the most important thing you learned because of this lesson." I gave everyone a few minutes to write what they took away from the lesson and they posted it on the wall. This was their exit ticket out the door. I left it up so students could read what was on the wall over the next few days.