Common Core Connection:
When I think about the changes that common core will bring to the classroom, I realize that one important component of common core is the student collaboration piece. When I reflect on my own teaching, I realize that this is an area of growth for me as a teacher. I understand that, by working together, students are gaining communication skills, leadership opportunities, and practice with social skills such as sharing and being respectful. In order for me to become better at implementing student collaboration I need to get past ‘my classroom must be quiet’ mantra, and not be concerned with the time constraints of the pacing guide. As I slowly become more comfortable with the noise level, I am noticing my students are actually engaged and participating in the discussions that need to take place in order to complete the project on time. They are also learning to share the responsibility of finishing the task, as well as learning to trust that, once they decide who is going to do what, that person will do it. And they express pride and joy when they share a finished product.
With this lesson coming on the heels of a week spent identifying the characters and the plots of the literary stories we read, I wanted to give my students a visual image of what a story element map looked like. The old adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ came to mind as my students explored RL.1.3 (describe characters, settings, and major events in a story using key details) using illustrations.
In today’s lesson my students will partner read The Sleeping Pig by Carmen Tafolla. Then they will work in small groups to illustrate a story element map.
As my students settled themselves on the carpet area I reminded them that this week we read Morse the Moose and The Sleeping Pig, I then asked them besides reading the stories what were we learning about? I gave my little ones a moment to think about this, and then called on a student who told the class we learned about the characters and the problem in the stories. In 'old school' teaching the term 'problem in the story' would have been acceptable, however an important shift in common core standards is to increase students academic vocabularies. I continued by asking what another word for ‘problem in the story’ called. Several students called out ‘plot’.
I wanted my students to remember or realize that we had not just identified the characters and the plot, but the personality traits of the characters and how the plot made the story more interesting, to do so I asked a few more questions such as: ‘How did we describe Morse’s personality’ and ‘What is so important about the plot’? After asking the questions and hearing my students’ responses, I reminded them that the character was more than what he or she looked, but acted like as well. I also reminded them that when we identify the characters, setting, and plot it is called a story element map. With that I had my little ones stand up and take a stretch before sending sulking to their desks.
Once at their desks I told my students that today they would partner read The Sleeping Pig, then work in a small group to illustrate a story element map, explaining this is another way show that they can identify the characters and events in a story. As my students began partner reading, I circled the room to make sure everyone was on the same page and taking turns reading the story. Once they were finished reading I gave them a moment to think about the characters, setting, plot, and events in the story. I then used the magic cup (see video Magic Cup Demonstration) to select students to share with the class who the characters were, and what were the setting, plot, and events in the story.
From there I showed them the large chart paper I had prepared by folding to create 4 spaces, with each space titled: 'Who', 'What', 'Where/When', and 'How', and explained what each title meant. After that I explained that they would work in groups of 4 and each person would draw a picture to go with one of the spaces. I also stressed that they needed to decide who was going to draw what, they had to draw and color nice, and use their quiet voices. And when they were finished each group would share with the class.
Before forming their own groups I gave them a moment to think about the directions and used the magic cup to call on students to restate the directions.
After these students finished re-stating the directions, I instructed my students to look at three friends and form a little group of 4. As the groups were formed I directed them to sit at a ‘work station’ where I had laid out the chart paper while they were forming their groups. Once they were at their work stations, I gave them one more reminder to decide who would draw what. I then set the timer for 15 minutes and met with each group, as seen in Explaining Her Work, to monitor their progress. From the pictures Getting Started, The 'Boys", The 'Girls', and We Have a Plan!, the students formed groups with students they felt comfortable working with, and took very little time getting started.
At the end of 15 minutes I noted that nearly all groups were about finished and gave them a couple of more minutes to finish. As the groups finished they brought them to the front of the rug area to share. Here we see The 'Boys' Finished Product.
Once all the groups were finished I directed my students to sit on the rug and collected their posters (as we started to call them while they were working) and tacked them to the wall in front of the rug area.
I then had each group come up and share what they did and how they did it. The two featured videos depict the personalities of the grouping. In The 'Boys' Make their Presentation, each students told about his part of the poster. Whereas in Presenting their Work, the group needed a little more prompting from me to tell about their work in front of the class.