I chose this story because it really demonstrated a great example of story structure. The author starts with ending action, but then goes back to the beginning and moves through the events. The kids were really able to see how the story was structured by using the index cards. They could describe the overall structure of the story, detailing the beginning as an introduction and ending as concluding action. (RL.2.5). There are lots of opportunities for inference, as the author did not always clearly tell why the characters were acting as they did. It was great fun to use cause and effect within the story structure, because the author made it so clear.
For more practice with cause and effect and inferencing, take a look at my other lesson Make a Star Book Cover - Infer the cause and effect.
Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics. The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary. My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)
Common starting point
Give the purpose of the lesson
Introduce strategy - teacher models
Practice strategy - guided practice
Encouraging students to make inferences about characters and cause/effect relationships in stories allows them to see how characters change over the course of a story. (RL.2.3) Their reaction to events and challenges can be evaluated when looking at how a cause changes the character. This analysis of characterization is the kind deeper story comprehension that the Common Core Standards encourages students to strive for.
Read and give students time to work
As you read and students work, you may hear them use other reading strategies, such as predicting, imaging and summarizing. Encourage these examples and ideas. They are thinking out loud about how to use a variety of reading strategies to comprehend the text and a student can become a model for others as he/she shares thoughts about the story. This is a student who used illustrations to summarize cause and effect.
Put it all together
Share What you know
Giving students the opportunity to 'turn and share' allows them to share their ideas and open up to others' perspectives. As they participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts, they are following agreed upon rules of discussion, building on other's conversation and asking for clarification and further explanation of ideas. (SL.2.1)
Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.
Students with learning challenges may have trouble with the inferences, so they could perhaps work with a partner to write the inferences and stay organized. It's worth spending time with these students to see their ideas. One of my students with language challenges had great ideas when we reviewed his project, even though he did need a lot of prompting.
Those with better language should be able to use higher level vocabulary and vary their inference starters. Instead of just writing, 'Aardvark screamed', they could write 'The aardvark screamed loudly from the pain in his tail.'