To begin the lesson today, scholars practice the skill of comparing/contrasting with photos of familiar athletes. The idea here is that scholars have the opportunity to practice an abstract skill with something more familiar and concrete.
Scholars look at a picture of a famous basketball player, a famous football player and a famous ice skater. I choose these sports because many of my scholars enjoy basketball, football and ice skating. You can choose any people to compare and contrast as long as they are interesting to your scholars and known by them.
Scholars have 3 minutes to compare/contrast the people. I remind scholars to draw the triple-venn diagram that we used yesterday during our comparison. This will help them organize their thinking!! That way, they won't forget anything when they begin to discuss. Here is a sample of a student notebook.
After 3 minutes, scholars share with the people at their table. During the share time I circulate, providing on-the-spot feedback and support as needed. After the share, I pull 2 friends from my cup to share what their table discussed and I take 2 volunteers. This helps hold scholars accountable to sharing and to staying on task during the discussion.
The teaching strategy is rather short today. It is day 3 of a compare/contrast lesson and so I will keep it short. We do a quick review of the 4 things we consider when comparing/contrasting 2 or more characters: 1. physical traits, 2. personality traits, 3. Character's response to challenges, 4. How characters change over time. I explain that we focused on #1 and #2 on Monday and Tuesday. Today, we're going to explicitly think about #3. Yesterday we made predictions about how #1 & #2 will affect #3 and today we're going to see if we're right!
This helps scholars to remember what we did yesterday and what we will focus on today. Then we do a cloze reading of chapter 3. When we do a cloze reading, we all have access to the same text. I read aloud and pause over a few words. Scholars fill-in-the-blank as I pause. This helps me hold them accountable for following along while allowing all scholars access to the text (regardless of reading level).
I model thinking aloud about how each character responds to the challenge and how that is different or the same. It is important to think aloud for scholars so that they can hear the thinking of a strong reader. It helps them to know what questions they should be asking themselves and what observations they should be making. I model how to record my thoughts on the Triple Venn Diagram. As I record my thoughts, scholars take notes on their Triple Venn Diagram so that they have a model of strong thinking as they move into the guided practice.
Scholars have 25 minutes to read through chapter 5 and record how BeeBee, Kyle and Darren's response to the challenge of facing an earthquake is the same/different. 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 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 triple venn diagrams. This gives them another set of ideas before they move forward and are independent with this task. Here is a video that shows our Guided Practice.
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.