One big shift in the Common Core Standards is a greater emphasis on having students read more informational texts. Why is this important? I found an excellent article from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) explaining how much time students are spending reading nonfiction each day and why the framers of the Common Core Standards saw the need to place more emphasis on reading nonfiction. To read that article, click here.
Today's lesson supports standard RI1.5 because we are learning how to use a nonfiction text feature. I know I need to prepare my students to read more technical kinds of texts and show them how to navigate around those texts. By teaching RI1.5, I am also setting our students up for success in achieving the anchor standard for RI1.5 - CCRA.R.5 - Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
We are also learning how to write nonfiction stories about animals. Once I show my students how to caption a picture, I will expect them to caption their illustrations in their animal writing. This will only enhance their writing and set them up for success to attain standard W1.7 in those writing lessons.
For this lesson you will need the Smartboard Nonfiction Text Features.notebook or Activboard Nonfiction Text Features.flipchart lesson called "Nonfiction Text Features." You will also want to make copies of the student practice papers, Animal Captions.pdf. I wrote each of those by researching books and websites. I differentiated the texts to try to accommodate the different reading levels in my class. I wanted each student to read and caption 2 stories. You can look through the stories and determine which texts match each of your student's needs. (You could also copy your own informational texts in your classroom and just block out the captions.) I wanted students to practice close reading, think about what they've read, and then appropriately caption the picture. This is why I made the practice papers that contain sample text.
I started off today's lesson by explaining the objective. I said, " Today we are going to be looking at another text feature of nonfiction: captions. We are going to find out what captions are, why they are important, and how you can make your own captions today." I explained how captions can be a sentence or a group of sentences that explain about a picture. The pictures help us to understand the text better. I brought out the book, "National Geographic Readers: Sharks," by Anne Schreiber. I selected this book because it isn't lengthy, the pictures are fabulous, and the captions are great examples.
I said, "I am going to read this book and we are going to focus closely on the captions." I began reading and stopped when I saw a caption. When I read the section about shark's teeth I said, "Do you see how the caption usually has to do with what the section is talking about? In this section of the book the author is talking about the different rows of teeth. There is a great picture here of the different rows of teeth on this shark. The caption explains the picture and it talks about the same thing as the text in this section."
I continued reading, and then I stopped and tried to get my students involved. Before showing them the caption the author wrote I would ask, "What is this section about? What is the picture showing? What do you think would be a good caption for this picture?" Then I would show the students the author's caption. We continued this way until we finished the book.
We then practiced pages 37-44 on our Smartboard lesson. Students had the opportunity to read and learn about animals through captions, and understand that a caption isn't just a regurgitation of the text. The students were also able to answer questions from finding information from the captions.
Some examples of the activities we did were: looking at a photo of a penguin that was zoomed in on the eye. The caption said "Big eyes to see underwater." The question that the students had to answer was "Why does a penguin have big eyes?" They had to look at the caption in order to answer that text dependent question.
The students also learned about an amphibian called a caecilian. They had to read the caption in order to learn that and answer the questions "What does the caption help you learn about the caecilian?"
I know that my students have already been reading nonfiction books in my classroom. Since I haven't taught them explicitly about captions before, I wanted to give partners some time to look at our nonfiction books and, in particular, the captions, in a new way. I had previously thought about whom I wanted to partner up for this lesson, so I had my list ready. Today their partner groups will have 2 students that are at the same ability level. I had picked 3 books that were an appropriate reading level for my partner groups.
I told my students, "I am going to give you about 5 minutes or so to look at your nonfiction books. I want you to read the pages that have captions. I want you to read the text, and then read the captions so you can see that the words are much different from each other. Then when we are done looking at our books, I am going to give you a practice paper that has 2 animal stories on it. You will read the story so you can have a good understanding of your animal. Then you will create a caption for each of your animal stories."
I told the students who their partners were and gave them their 3 books. They sat down and got to work. It was loud in my room, but as I circulated around the room, students were on task. They read the text and captions and talked about how the text in the caption was different from the actual text.
I made sure to circulate around the room, helping my struggling readers if they needed help. I was able to take some video of my students working during this time. You can view the video, Student Captions.mp4, so you can get an idea of what your class may look like at this point in the lesson.
My students loved "posting" on our Facebook poster in our last lesson, so I decided to do this again. I gave each of my students a post it note. I said, "I want you to post what you learned today and why it was important to learn." This gave me a good idea of which students retained the concepts in today's lesson and which students I might have to do a reteaching lesson with. I kept our poster up for a few days so students could also see other students' posts.