Each day, my class has a story time. Most of the time, the story leads to lessons based on the story, but this time it is set to introduce a deeper lesson on comparing and forming an opinion. Throughout the month of January, the kindergarten team does an author study about Ezra Jack Keats, so I review the information learned in previous lessons before I read the day's story, Pet Show.
Boys and girls who can tell me who is the author and illustrator of this book? What is the job of the author? What is the job of the illustrator?
Now let's take a look at the book itself. I will point to parts of it and you tell me what these parts are called: front and back cover; spine;title page; text and illustrations. When I turn to the first pages, where do I begin reading? (I point out to my students where we begin reading.) Now let's listen to the story, Pet Show.
After the story has been read, we talk about the different pets that each of the children in the story had, and I write those types on the board.
Who can tell me some of the pets we saw in the story? Instead of everyone shouting out what types of pets you have, I will have you raise your hand when you hear your pet mentioned and I will put a tally mark next to the animal name. If you have more than one, you will show me by putting up your fingers. For example if you have one cat, you will put up your fist, but if you have two cats you will raise your hand and show me two fingers.
Because I know that every child will want to talk about their own pets, I ask the children after each type, who has the same kind of pet. This way they each can share but a quicker, less chaotic manner. If they have one of a particular type of pet, they raise their fists. If they have more than one, the raise their hands with the number indicated by fingers raised. I put Tally Marks after the pet type to create a graph, and then we briefly chat about which type of pet seems most popular. This will lead us into the procedural part of the lesson.
The students are going to be working on comparing and contrasting, and then forming an opinion paper based on that information in regard to which of the two animals would make the best pet for them. They will support their opinions with information we will have gathered and charted.
Children, we are going to have a special guest for today, but they will need to sit at their seats in order for the class to meet him. My daughter surprises the class by walking into the room with my dog, Logan. While the children are sitting, I let her walk around the room to introduce him. As the children and the dog become acclimated, I indicate that I will be making a chart about two kinds of animals; the first side of the chart will be about my dog.
Tell me some characteristics that you notice about Logan: hair, color, size, gender, motion, etc. and I will write those ideas down. Now we have to tell Logan goodbye because we have the second part of our lesson to do.
I bring out our class pet, Shelly the Turtle. Because of the chance the Shelly could carry salmonella, I do not let the children touch her at this time, but I do walk around so that they can get a good look at her. After everyone has had a chance to observe, I put Shelly away and I ask for her attributes.
Here is our friend, Shelly the Turtle. Are Shelly and Logan very much alike? Tell me some of the characteristics of Shelly so that I can write these on our chart. I add those contributions to the chart.
Let's talk about the comparisons that we have made and talk about the differences. Think about yourself and your life. If you had to decide between one of these two types of pets, a dog or a turtle, which would be best for you? Turn and share your thoughts with a buddy and give them a reason for your choice.
If I can have your attention again, I would like to explain what we are doing next. We will be writing an opinion paper about our choice. An opinion paper takes one person's idea and uses evidence to support it. For example, if your opinion is that a dog is the best pet, you might talk about the things we learned about a dog today, but also your feelings about dogs. If if your opinion is that a turtle is the best pet, you might talk about the things we learned about turtles and your feelings about this type of pet.
When we do our writing we will be using the four-square paper like we have used before. We will write our choice for a pet in the center circle. Then you will write three reason sentences and then in the last box, you will write about your feelings. Each box will need words and pictures. What do you do if you are not sure about how to spell a word? You can look at the word wall; you can ask a friend; you can look at other resources in the room; you can ask an adult. Great! Let's get started.
I show the children the writing paper that we will use to show our ideas. I use a four square style page and walk them through the process of filling it out. In the center, the child writes down his/her preference for the best pet. Then in boxes 1,2, and 3, he/she writes three supporting statements which are copied from the chart as well as drawing of a picture in each of the boxes that go with the supporting statements. In the last box, #4, the child writes a feeling statement about his/her choice, and again, draws a picture.
When the children have finished their work, they can share their ideas with a friend who is also finished with their work. This is a great time to listen in on their conversations and "read" their ideas. Are the children able to support their choices and opinions?
The next day, because this lesson will get too long, I teach the children how to take the information that they have written on the four-block and write it in story form. They feel like "big" kids when they can form their own opinion stories.