I found an article on newsela.com about this mako shark that was caught for a reality TV show. This is the type of news that really gets 6th graders fired up, so I thought it would be perfect! We have just finished reading another shark article and discussing cause and effect. I figured that this would tie in perfectly while sharks were on the brain!
I'll start off with this video to build a little background and to get the students excited about what they are going to read.
I was able to use the Mako shark text that was at a lexile level of 1080 and another version of the text that was written at an 1160 for my higher readers. The same article is even available at a lexile level of 870. I considered using that text for several of my lower readers, but I decided to challenge them since they are going to be reading in a group and will have that has built in peer support.
I will divide the students into groups of 3 or 4 placing all of the advanced or gifted reading students together. The rest of the groups will be of combined ability. I don't like grouping struggling readers together because they don't have good role models to help them navigate a challenging text.
I will have students take turns reading. The paragraphs are short, so they are constantly switching readers which keeps everyone on their toes.
The students will take turns reading while highlighting information that they feel is important.
Once each group is finished, I will assign them several words from the text to define using context clues only. I'll vary the words depending on the group, but some of the words I will use are relic, macho, conservation, and acceptable. For the higher level text I will use: lamented, reap, mythologized, and advocates. I chose these words because they would enhance the big ideas of the text if the students knew their meanings.
Once everyone is finished defining to the best of his or her ability, we will confirm or refute the meanings. First, I'll have the students tell me their definitions, and I'll record them. I'll ask them what clues from the text they used to create their definition. I plan on doing this as a class on the smart board using dictionary.com. I will have the advanced groups, find the definitions on their own using phones or dictionaries.
I think it is very important for students to know how to use context clues because it is a life skill. When we are trying to find an answer, we usually don't stop to consult a dictionary. Students need to know how to figure this out on their own. This is a skill that needs to be practiced, so I try to fit it in somehow several times per week, formally or informally.
For this section, I'll post a question up on my board.
Should fisherman be allowed to catch (and keep/kill) sharks?
I'll ask students to decide their opinion on this issue. I'll ask students who feel that hunting sharks is fine to move to one side of the room. Students who think that sharks should not be hunted will move to the other side. Once they are separated, students will form groups of 2 or 3 students with others that share their view.
Each group will have the task of stating their opinion and supporting it with information found in the text. I will also let them use the article "Saving the Great White Monster" that we recently read in the Cause and Effect lesson.
I'll give students 20 minutes to prepare, and I will set a timer on my SmartBoard to help them keep on track. I am not requiring students to write anything down, but I will give some suggestions that might help them. They can make a visual or a type of poster, or they can do some type of skit while presenting. Through this activity, students will be able to practice good speaking skills. If they have written a paragraph or two, their focus will be on writing and not on speaking to an audience.
I am looking to see if students are:
1. Stating their opinion
2. Supporting it with textual evidence that they found in one of the articles.
After 20 minutes, students will present to the class.
I find that my students typically do well with this type of activity. They love to be in front of a group, and I like the opportunity for them to practice their speaking and listening skills. Here are my students in action: