Whenever possible, I begin my lessons with silent, independent reading. During this time, I actively monitor their reading progress by checking their out-of-class reading logs and engaging in reading conferences that cover a variety of topics.
To find ways to enact this section, please see my strategy folder.
Before I begin today's read aloud of "So B. It" By: Sarah Weeks, I explain the purpose of today's lesson. Everyone has begun reading their Overcoming Obstacle novel for our latest genre study. As they may have figured out, there is at least one featured character in the novel that has a disability. To deepen our understanding of the novel, kids will spend time researching the featured disability.
The passage that I read in "So B. It" By: Sarah Weeks actually features some description about Mama, which is perfect timing and students reference this portion of the text when I go to do my research in the next part of the lesson.
I use Mama as my research model. When I first start reading, I am not sure what disability Mama has, which is actually good news, because I'm going to need to do some preliminary research to even decide what disability to focus my research on. Eventually, we come to the conclusion that Mama has a cognitive disability, because in the text it states that she really struggles learning how to complete simple texts such as tying her shoes.
I begin my preliminary research. I suggest that students use our school databases. They are online sources that our district pays for. I explain that these tend to be more reliable. This differs from free, changeable sites like Wikipedia.
I start to dig in to find more information about cognitive disabilities, and eventually decide that Mama has an intellectual disability (the new term for mental retardation). We determine this by examining the text and recalling her difficulties with acquiring new words and mastering simple texts. I complete my Disability Research Form.
I have trouble finding great information, which I think is really good for the kids to see. Research is hard! We have a lot of databases, but they are all trial and error.
Now kids will complete their research independently. They find their laptops and begin working on their Research Form.
This is not their first research project, so at this point in the year, they're used to conducting these mini-research projects. If I notice that kids have selected the same title as someone else, I may put them together to research one topic. I like when these groups form organically, if at all possible. I like when students use one another as resources.
By the time the block ends, they should find at least two sources with information about the disability featured in their overcoming obstacle book.