The real motivation for this text lies in the kind of winter we've been having here in our city. We've had snow, freezing cold and more snow days than we normally get by this time of year. Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin seemed to be the perfect choice to connect literature to real life.
Today is the first time the students will have read the text so when they enter the class, they find the books on their desks. I decide to let them read the text with partners. Because of our recent practice with close reading, they already know they need to "read with a pencil" and notice things about the text. My students use a bookmark sized reminder of the marks we make during close reads. I have included that in the resource section.
Before I dismiss them to read, we discuss biographies. They already know that a biography is the story of a person's life. I ask them if they notice anything different about this biography. One student answers that it's short and one student says it's a picture book. I open the book to show them that this biography reads differently than a chapter book biography or even than the article type biographies we read during our leader unit. This biography does indeed read like a picture book but I show them the sidebars that give the more "nonfiction" biography information.
Having all the technical information they need, it's time for the students to read Snowflake Bentley for the first time.
While the students are reading, I wander around answering questions and monitoring progress. I have to remind students to use their bookmark to help them remember which marks to make on their text. I also listen to the conversations that the students have.
After all students have read the story at least once, it is time for a discussion of our text. The Smart board slides in the resource section begin our discussion. Even though our city is having a "harsh" winter according to our standards, my students don't really have background knowledge of 120" of snow, so we start there.
After the students have some idea of setting, I hand out the text dependent questions for them to answer to show their understanding of the text.
I allow them to work in partners for this set of questions, but each partner is required to write an answer on their own paper. After students have completed their questions, we look at answers under the ELMO and discuss each one.