Night of the Twisters: Prose Constructed Response and Multiple Perspectives

2 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT organize abstract thoughts and communicate clearly through writing to analyze multiple perspectives of the same event

Big Idea

Recording complex thoughts are tough - let's make it easier!

Cue Set

5 minutes

This is the final lesson in our sequence on RI6 - Analyzing multiple accounts of the same event/topic noting important similarities and differences. Today is all about synthesizing all of our thoughts, ideas and observations and putting it all on paper.  

Traditionally this has been the MOST difficult thing for my scholars to do.  They are great at creating a BCR (brief constructed response - about 2-3 sentences).  They are also very adept at ECR's (Evidence constructed response - using a quote to prove an answer).  However, they consistently struggle with the PCR (Prose Constructed Response).  These responses are a bit longer and more developed than a BCR.  It is more of an essay.  I try to make this more simple for scholars by giving them a clear organizational structure for their writing that is aligned to each standard.  

Today, I begin the lesson by accessing their prior knowledge to see if they remember how to organize a response to a compare/contrast multiple perspectives question.  

I begin by asking scholars how we might organize a response that compares/contrasts multiple perspectives.  Scholars have 2 minutes to jot down ideas.  If scholars need prompting, I will over-emphasize the words COMPARE and CONTRAST (this may trigger organizing one paragraph by similarities and 1 by differences).  

Scholars have 1 minute to share ideas at their tables, then I pull 2 friends from my cup and take 1 volunteer.  I do this to keep scholars on their toes (they never know when I will call on them- my cup is random) and to give them a chance to hear someone's thinking who may not be in their group.  I then write how they should organize the PCR on my Smartboard.  Here is the Smartboard photo with my notes.  Then, scholars who do not have a clear organizational structure can copy that structure in their  notebook.  This way, we are all prepared and organized as we move into the teaching strategy. 

Teaching strategy

15 minutes

During the teaching strategy today, I model how to read my question, underline key words, find evidence in the text and begin to organize my thinking (since we did this yesterday with our venn, I will mention this without re-creating the venn diagram).  The question is:

How are Warren Faidley's account of experiencing a tornado the same or different than the characters from Night of the Twister's account of experiencing a tornado?  Why do you think that might be? 

Today I provide scholars with VERY STRUCTURED sentence starters for use with their PCR's.  The last time we wrote PCR's together, scholars struggled IMMENSELY with beginning their sentences.  Once they had a few words written on paper, they created wonderful responses.  Therefore, I begin this lesson with sentence starters! 

Click here to hear a scholar explain how he uses sentences starters to help him! 

In their notebooks, scholars write: 

Opening Sentence: Warren Faidley's account of a tornado and the characters from Night of the Twisters account of a tornado are the same and different. 

Paragraph 1 - Their accounts are the same because......   The reason for this is ........ 

Paragraph 2 - Their accounts are different because ...... The reason for this is ........

Closing: As you can see, the accounts of a tornado are the same and different.  

Here is one Scholar's notes.  I have a few scholars (one with a 504 and two with vision issues) who do not copy the notes in their notebook.  I print out a copy of the sentence starters and they glue these into their notebooks at this time.  Click here for a copy of the Notes for scholars who need scribe accommodation.  


Guided Practice

25 minutes

Scholars practice writing the PCR response in their post-it note groups.  Each student has a colored post-it note on the upper right hand corner of their desk.  The size, shape and color determine what group they are in.  Scholars write their response on dry erase boards to give them a different way to record their thinking.  All group members are responsible for creating a response.  This helps hold all scholars accountable to the work and it enables me to gauge student understanding.  

My ELL co-teacher and I split the groups in half between both of us so that we are able to give 7 minutes of support to each group.  She may stay with one group depending on need.  We interview scholars and give on-the-spot feedback.  We find this is an incredibly helpful time to give 1-1 and small group feedback.  Staying for an extended period of time (more than 3 minutes) helps scholars to get deeper support and it helps us to really diagnose and support student need.  

Click here to see scholars in a Guided Practice PCR video.  

After 10 minutes, I give a whole-class clap and scholars put their hands on their head.  I share something really great that a group has done or a strategy that my co-teacher and I think would benefit the whole class.  The reason for this is to help move forward other scholars' thinking and it gives my co-teacher and I a mid-point check-in.  If needed, we will extend the guided practice at this point, re-group or re-teach depending on student need.  

Independent Practice

45 minutes

The plan is to do stations today.  If scholars struggle tremendously during the guided practice, we will not do stations and will instead offer more support and extend guided practice.  The reason for this is that we do not want scholars to practice the wrong way - we would rather stop the lesson, re-teach differently and give scholars the chance to practice correctly.  

If we get to stations, the plan is as follows: 

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 is to write a PCR that compares/contrasts multiple perspectives of the same natural disaster with 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).  Since we are learning about natural disasters, each group has a different natural disaster (this depends on the books that are available on the groups level).  My ELL co-teacher focuses on the objective of analyzing multiple perspectives without writing it down -- the scholars she sees is based on need, so her group is flexible and determined the day before based on socratic seminar evidence and the venn diagram from yesterday. 

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.