Today is the first day that we are reading a new book: Escaping the Giant Wave. This is a fictional narrative about a boy who is on vacation with his family. While he is babysitting for his sister, they experience an earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Since this is the first day of the read, I develop background knowledge with scholars regarding tsunamis. We watch this video about tsunamis to help build vocabulary and expose scholars to the event of a tsunami so that they will be able to visualize some of the events as they unfold in the book. This helps to level the playing field for some scholars who may not have tons of background with tsunamis.
As scholars watch, they ask themselves the following questions:
1. What is a tsunami?
2. Why might a tsunami be considered a natural disaster?
After the video, I give scholars 1 minute to jot down their thinking. Here is a scholar completing the Cue Set. This is one student response to Cue Set. Notice that this scholar cites evidence from the video to support their thinking.
Then, I give scholars 30 seconds to share with a friend at their table. Finally, I pull 2 friends from my cup and take two volunteers to respond to the questions above. Here is a video that shows our discussion (1 from the cup, 1 volunteer). The thinking behind this method is to give scholars a chance to get their thoughts together, then hear what a friend has to say while rehearsing their response. They then are held accountable for the conversations because they are randomly called from my cup to answer for the whole class. This keeps scholars on their toes.
During the teaching strategy today, we review what we consider when comparing and contrasting 2 or more characters. This is the second time I've taught this standard, and scholars scholars should remember some of what they learned previously. I allow scholars to call out or popcorn out during this time. When scholars popcorn out, they stand up and shout out the answer. They do not have to wait to be called upon. This increases the excitement of the brainstorming session and hearing others' thoughts helps to trigger everyones thinking. I spend between 30 seconds and a minute here.
After the quick brainstorm, scholars take notes by coping the following in their notebooks:
When we compare/contrast characters, we consider:
1. Physical Traits
2. Personality Traits
3. Character's response to challenges
4. How characters change over time
As scholars take notes, I give them concrete examples of physical traits, personality traits, how character's respond to challenges and how characters change over time. This will help scholars remember what each of these words mean.
Then, we do a cloze reading of the first 3 pages of the novel: Escaping the Giant Wave. When we do a cloze reading, we all have access to the same text. While I read the text out loud, I pause over certain words and scholars must fill-in-the-blank with the paused upon word. This increases engagement and allows all scholars to access the text.
After we finish reading, I model how to begin to record the character traits on the Character Sketch. I model so that scholars can see/hear a strong reader thinking about and making deeper meaning. I encourage scholars to write along with me on their Character Sketch so that they have a model to follow during practice time.
Scholars have 20 minutes to continue to read the first chapter of Escaping the Giant Wave and record characteristics on the character sketch. Partners are heterogeneous groupings. I pair lower scholars with medium low scholars and high scholars with medium high scholars. The reason for this is to ensure that no one becomes frustrated with their partner, and also so that my ELL co-teacher and I can strategically support certain groups. Scholars get new partners each week. Here is a photo of some partner reading, and here is more partner reading.
Scholars love partner reading time because it helps them to hear a model of fluent reading other than the teacher. Also, they get to move around the room and find a comfy place to read. This increases oxygen to their brains and it gives them a change of scenery. Scholars work together to continue to record thinking on their character sketch. This gives them another set of ideas before they move forward and are independent with this task. Here is a sample of one student discussion regarding character traits that is typical during this guided practice time. As scholars work & discuss, I circulate to support with additional questioning. My ELL co-teacher typically pulls 2-3 partnerships to give accommodations as necessary.
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 compare and contrast more than one character in 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). Then we discuss the how characters are alike and different. Depending on the skill of the group, we focus on different characteristics to compare and contrast. My lower groups focus on just comparing/contrasting physical and personality traits. My higher groups focus more on comparing and contrasting character's response to challenge and how the character changes over time. 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).
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.