Introducing the Skeleton in our Human Body Unit, is always fun, and writing with W.5.2 using informative explanatory texts helps the kids examine the topic and covey the ideas clearly. The kids love when Seymour lives in our classroom for a couple of weeks, his presence enhancing the unit right from the beginning.
After an introduction, we complete a KWL Chart on the skeleton. The kids know a lot of the basics, as they study bones in third grade science. Still, we fill out the chart nicely. The special touch is having our life sized skeleton, Seymour standing guard at the Smart Board. We fill out some of the W column, and I ask them to listen for answers they may get right away as we watch the Eyewitness DVD: Skeleton, in the next section.
As they watch the fabulous Eyewitness DVD: Skeleton, I encourage them to take substantial notes. At the conclusion, they will be writing informative essays to communicate the ideas clearly, based on these notes.
With such an engaging production in front of them, it's sometimes difficult to concentrate on the note-taking aspect ("Skeleton" begins). As much as I'd rather they just watch for fun, note taking is a skill they will be required to have as 6th graders next year in middle school, and it's good practice of learning to cite evidence from media sources. (Watching and taking notes).
As I circulated, I heard one student comment that he had plenty of notes about "lots of stuff" and he was just going to sit back and enjoy for the rest of it. Of course, I meandered over to observe his notes, and he was right. I chalked that up to using his time wisely, and even caught him adding a few.
After the conclusion of the Skeleton DVD, the students immediately begin to organize their notes. They then take out another sheet of notebook paper, and begin to write (Beginning the essay using her notes). It's a good idea to cross or check off the notes that have been used while writing this kind of an essay (Writing his essay using notes).
They are given the opportunity to share their notes or their essays with the class (Presenting her essay). If they choose to share notes, I ask the kids to make a tally next to the same note on their own list if they've written the same information. It's interesting to see just what information jumped out at different kids as important. As the kids were working, I also passed around a dental x-ray. I was pleased that one of the kids found part of a cactus skeleton at recess, brought it in, and included it with her essay, Skeleton Notes and Essay (with cactus bone)