In today’s lesson I wanted to give my students practice looking at and reading an informational text about hermit crabs. It was my intent that they would be able to choose one part of the text and decide, on their own, what information the author was trying to convey and why that was important. Hermit the Crab, by Martha Huelsenbeck, is a good resource for this because the text is divided in three sections. The beginning of the book gives basic background information about the relationship hermit crabs have with shells. The second part of the book describes the physical aspects of a hermit crab. The last part, which is the largest section, describes how to keep hermit crabs as pets.
Common Core Connection:
As noted in CCRA.R by reading science texts students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. To help develop my students foundation knowledge the focus on today’s lesson is RI.1.6: distinguish between information provided by pictures or other illustrations and information provided by the words in a text. As well as RI.1.8: Identify the reasons an author gives to support points in a text. By focusing on these two standards my students were able to form an opinion as to what was the most important thing the author was conveying in her book.
In today’s lesson I introduced Hermit the Crab, by Martha Huelsenbeck, to my students. As I showed them the front cover I asked them to raise their hands to tell the class one thing they remembered and wanted to share with the class from Moving Day, by Robert Kalan; Old Shell, New Shell, by Helen Ward; or A House for a Hermit Crab, by Eric Carle. As the hands went up, the responses included: all the hermit crabs were looking for new shells, looking for bigger shells, the shells were pretty, and one hermit crab pinched another. As I agreed with their responses I told them today they were going to learn about another hermit crab, however, this time they got to choose what they wanted to write about it in their journals.
At first glance they thought Hermit the Crab was a fictional story book, however, once I started reading they realized that this was an informational text. I reminded my students that we should never judge a book by its cover. Then I asked them why they first thought this was a story book. Several hands went up and several students called out, it was because of the pictures. I had to admit, the crab does look cartoonish. As I read I tried very hard not to specifically tell my students what information the author was discussing in each section. However, I did stop at the end of each section and asked my students to briefly re-state what I just read. After selecting a student to summarize each section, I then asked: Can anyone tell me what the author is trying to say? Each student who was selected to answer that question was able to state that the author was telling about why the hermit crab found new shells, what hermit crabs look like, and that hermit crabs can be pets. And one student pointed out that the book rhymes, further arguing that it could be a story book. I had to admit, he made a good point.
As I finished reading I instructed my students to share with their rug partners what part of the book they thought was the most the most interesting. When they were finished partner sharing I knew they wanted to share with me as well. To do this I had them all whisper to me (Demonstration: Whisper to Me) which part of the book was the most interesting. The answer I heard the most was the part about hermit crabs could be pets. I then asked: Is that what this book is about? My students responded “No, just the last part”.
From there I gave them their directions for their independent work. They were to think about in their opinion, what was the most interesting part and write a little summary about it. I emphasized they were not to write about the entire book, just the one part. When they started asking me how, I reminded them that we had been practicing using writing hooks during their writing block, and asked; ‘What type of hook would you use to write a summary about one section of this book?’ Nearly all of my students responded with the hook: ‘Have you ever ___. Let me tell ____’.
The video Student Writing Samples shows me reading two journal samples that were typical of my students' journal writing from this lesson. Note both students begin with a hook and make reference back to the informational text, Hermit the Crab.
As my students got started, I pulled my beginning students into a small group and gave them the prompt: The last part of this book is about _______. Hermit crabs need ______________.
For a sticker explained why Hermit the Crab was an informational text.