During the Cue Set, I give scholars concrete practice with the skill of comparing and contrasting two people so that they can more easily transfer this skill to the text.
I pick two scholars from my cup and ask them to come to the front of the classroom. Then, I ask scholars to compare and contrast the two scholars. Here is one pair of students who are being compared. I ask them, "when we compare and contrast, what do we do?" Scholars can call out the response, since it is the middle of the year, most scholars will call-out, "draw a venn diagram!" Scholars draw their venn diagram, then I give them 2 minutes on the clock to do a quick comparison. The scholars who are being compared/contrasted remain in the front (if you have the technology, you could snap a quick picture of the scholars and project on your smart board). That way, the scholars who are being compared have practice with the creation & completion of the venn diagram.
Then, scholars do a quick whip around to share similarities and differences at their table groups.
Finally, I ask scholars to consider how they approached the comparison. How did they determine what they were going to compare/contrast? I'm looking for answers like, "well, I thought about their physical appearance." Many scholars get stuck with comparing/contrasting because they do not know WHAT to compare/contrast. This helps them break their thinking down a bit so that we can apply it to the text.
During the teaching strategy today, we begin by reviewing the things to consider when comparing/contrasting two or more characters. I taught this skill at the beginning of the year when we read Maniac Macgee so this is a bit of a review. I ask scholars to popcorn out (they just stand up and call out) the categories to compare when thinking about how two characters are the same and different.
I expect scholars to say, "we think about (1) Physical Traits, (2) Personality Traits, (3) Character's Response to challenges."
I give scholars a Venn Diagram to complete as we read today, and scholars label their venns with the categories mentioned above.
Finally, we do a cloze reading of chapter 7 where I pause and think aloud about how I would compare/contrast Ulape and Karana based on our categories and the information learned in chapter 7. As I model my think aloud, scholars jot down notes on their venn diagrams so that they have a model of strong thinking and so that they know the expectations.
Scholars have 20 minutes to work with their partner to read chapter 8 of Island of the Blue Dolphins. Then, they must complete their venn diagram and consider Ulape & Karana's physical & personality traits as well as their response to challenges. Scholars can go back in the text if that is helpful to their comparison.
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. Here are Scholars working in partnerships and Another partnership.
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 venn diagrams. This gives them another set of ideas before they move forward and are independent with this task. I circulate and interview scholars to support them with this task.
Here is a sample of a student interview:
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 summarize the text using 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 how to summarize fiction. We practice recording our thinking on dry erase boards to use a different mode of recording and to keep things a little fresh. I noticed that scholars needed more support with this skill last week, so I want to make sure that they have more practice.
The pink group will continue student-led text talk groups. Their focus question will depend upon the text they selected and the part that they read.
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.