Looking at Real Bears

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SWBAT identify facts about bears and describe those facts in their journals

Big Idea

Today it's all about the facts


After spending several days reading about fictional bears I felt my students needed to read and learn about real bears.  After all I began this unit by asking my students if and where they had ever seen a real bear, I felt it only academic to close the unit with a lesson about real bears.

Common Core Connection and Lesson Overview:

With a focus on RI.1.3, I knew I needed to supplement the materials I had on hand from the district adopted ELA program.  This material is not very challenging, so I decided to introduce the students to identifying key details in a more rigorous text from Scholastic News. I planned to lead students through this text, and then, once they had practiced with my support, they would apply their skills to the lower level texts that they could work on independently.

In this lesson I used the Promethean board to show my students how to log onto Scholastic News and finding the article I wanted them to read.  After showing them the article I explained today they were going to look at facts about bears from several sources and use the facts they learned to write in their journals.


Fishing Bears by Ruth Berman

Bear Play by Miela Ford

Scholastic News: Look Both Ways, Bears!, March 2014

Finding the Facts Activity Sheet (teacher created)


5 minutes

I began this lesson by asking my students to think about the bear in Lost! by David McPhail and the bear in It’s the Bear! and My Friend Bear by Jez Alborough.  I had them turn to their rug partners and share what those bears looked like and did.  When they were finished sharing I used the magic cup to select a partner pair to tell the class how they described the bears from the stories we read this week.  After they shared I had the class whisper to me how they described the bears to their rug partners.  Once they finished whispering to me I told them today they would work in their reading groups and read or work with four different resources to find facts about bears.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

I then had my students stand up take a stretch and walk to their desks like a bear.  With young students it is important to give them stretch breaks after they have been sitting for long periods of time.  Adding a movement while they are transitioning to their seats from the rug motivates student learning and gives them an opportunity to be creative.  If you add an adjective, such as gruff bear, students also learn a new vocabulary word.

Once at their desks I used the Promethean board to show them how to log into Scholastic News and find the article Look Both Ways, Bears! (I already had this on the computers, but showed them just in case it got logged out during transitions)

Besides reading the article on-line I also wanted them to explore the vocabulary words and skill game, so I modeled how to get into these activities ... Although, as we all know, they already knew how! They could do it faster than I could show them ...  

From there I showed my students the texts they would read, explaining they would be in their reading groups and could work quietly together.  I then displayed the Finding the Facts Activity Sheet on the Promethean and explained they were to fill in the subject line and the title of the text their group was working on.  They were then to read the text, look at the pictures, and record as many facts as they read about or observed from the pictures.  They would repeat this process until they went through all the sections.

Before sending them off to read and record, I wanted to check their understanding.  I gave my students a moment to think about what they were going to do and used the magic cup to select a student to retell the class the directions.  I also wanted to know if they understood why they were doing this.  Again I used the magic cup to select a student to remind the students why they were doing this.  The answer I got: “So we can learn about real bears instead of fake bears”.  That works, but I added on to the answer that we were also doing this to practice the skill of identifying facts about bears.

Note: children working on the computer do not fill in the activity sheet. Instead of forcing them to engage with the activity sheet, though, I decided to take a different tack. See my reflection (Computer Station) for more.

Collaborative Activity

60 minutes

Just before going into their groups I had the helper of the day pass out the Scholastic News article and instructed my students to leave it on their name tags, so it would be ready for them when they got to that rotation.  Because of space my students worked at their desks to finish this rotation activity.  

From there I had my students stand and bring their pencils and had each reading group go to the work areas where I already had their materials laid out for them. 

During this time I stayed with my beginning reading group and had each student read part of the texts out loud while the rest of their group followed along and listened.  I also helped them with spelling while they recorded the facts they found. 

At the end of 15 minutes I checked to see where my students were at and adjusted the time so they could finish.  (Once they got started 15 minutes was about right)  Every 15 minutes, or so, I had my students move to the next work area- until they had rotated through all the areas.  During transitions I did quick checks on my students work to make sure they were reading and adding facts to their activity sheets.  The accompanying pictures shows my students working on their activity sheets or reading their books.

My students are accustomed to rotating through differentiated reading rotations, however, today was the first time I rotated them through work areas where they were reading and recording information.  I found it worked pretty well, however, in the future I would add talking points or questions to the work stations that are related to the texts the students read.  I believe this would help students stay engaged if they finished before the transition time.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

When my students had gone through all the work areas I had them re-group at their desks and had a brief discussion about the texts that they read.  What my students noticed Bear Play was about polar bears in the zoo, while Fishing Bears were about brown bears in the wild.  The Scholastic News article was about how people help animals, including bears.  After our class discussion I told them it sounded like they learned a lot about bears, now it was time to write about what they learned.  Today they were to write about what they learned from reading the different texts about bears.

The prompt I put on the board for my less independent students:  Do you know about bears?  Let me tell you what I learned from Fishing Bears and Bear Play ______________.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

I gave my students a sticker after they told me one fact they learned about bears.