The Splendor of Sunflowers

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SWBAT ask and answer questions about key details in an informational and a literary text.

Big Idea

Sunflowers offer much beauty and life. Their seeds can be eaten. Have you tried them?


12 minutes

Summary and Context

Today, we continue with first read of the second part of The Tiny Seed by Eric Carl. Most of my students will ready independently and answer text dependent questions about key details about the story. These questions ask them to go back into the text to find the answers. These questions ask them to look at what the text says explicitly.

I continue to build the content knowledge about plants/flowers. They will be viewing a video on the life cycle of a sunflower. As they watch, I will guide them in answering questions. They will use notes to answer the questions. I have taught my students how to take notes in previous lessons. Notes are short and can include words, phrases, and/or pictures.

To help them integrate the knowledge of the sunflowers, they will be writing what they learned about them. While this may sound like an easy task, my students need much practice with formulating sentences, writing about nonfiction topics, and being confident in synthesizing their learning through writing.

Once they are done with the writing, some students will share their learning with their peers. They will receive feedback from them too. 

Lesson Opening:

I start with the students on the rug and share the student friendly objective: "I can ask and answer questions to learn about sunflowers."

Today, I tap their prior knowledge by asking them, "What do you know about sunflowers?" After giving them wait time, I ask them to turn to their rug partner and ask each other the question. Today, I assign who asks first. Then, some of them share out loud. I transcribe their responses on a circle map.

Then, I ask them what questions they have about sunflowers? It is important to have my students practice how to formulate questions. After listing the questions, I take the time to help them evaluate the questions by asking them to reread the questions and I ask, "Are there any questions that repeat? Are there any that we can combine?" By doing this, I am helping them pay attention to the type of sentences they ask and to the quality of questions they ask so that they do not repeat themselves and ask thoughtful questions. It aids their listening skills too.

Video: Sunflower Life Cycle

20 minutes

The Tiny Seed is about a traveling seed that grows into a majestic sunflower for many to appreciate. To build content knowledge to support deep comprehension of the text, the students will watch a video and answer questions on The Sunflower Cycle. I am providing my students with another source to gather information on sunflowers. I have taught my students how to take notes and they know that note-taking includes pictures, as well as words and short phrases. This is one way that I make this into an interactive experience. Additionally, I stop and discuss the text features of the video. I believe it's important to show students videos also have text features.

Before my students watch the video, I have them read the questions. This reinforces their reading skills and focuses them on finding the right evidence in the video.

Here are examples of their note taking:

Here is the video itself:

Sunflower Life Cycle

Independent Reading: The Tiny Seed by Eric Carl

20 minutes

Now my students read independently and answer text dependent questions about the second part of The Tiny Seed, pages 186-198. Because this is still the first read, the text dependent questions ask about what the text states explicitly. To help them be on task and not interrupt my work with a small group, I have noted the page number after each question. If students are not done within the allotted time, then they take it for homework.

The students I work with on the carpet need support with finding the evidence about what the book says. I give them guidance as to how to answer the questions. I am showing them how to use key words in the question to answer it. Struggling readers need help with figuring out what are the key words in their question so that they can look for those words in the reading

Independent Writing

20 minutes

Another shift with CCSS that this lesson targets is integrating writing throughout the day. My students will use time today to write to integrate their knowledge about sunflowers, and I give them a choice to motivate them/invest them. I ask them to either write a paragraph with transition words or draw a diagram to demonstrate their knowledge of sunflowers. Writing can be a difficult task, but by having my students write every day, this helps improve their writing, their self-esteem and integrating nonfiction information in their writing becomes easier.

As my students write, they reread their notes. In doing so, they are making decisions about what they want to include about the topic. While everyone has the same information, their decision about what to include and the format for their writing empowers them as readers and writers.

Here are the samples with diagrams:

Here are examples of students who wrote sentences with transition words in a paragraph:

Sharing Whole Group

7 minutes

Now that my students have spent time writing, it is time for them to share their writing. During the writing time, I walked around not just to offer support, but I also took note of who was meeting the task, so that those students could share their writing. I make it a point to ask them instead of telling them to share. Most of them say yes. Once in a while a few will say no. If there is a student who keeps saying no, then, I work to encourage them to share over time.

One way I accomplish this, is to offer specific praise on what they are doing well in their writing.

When my students share they also get feedback from their peers. The way in which the audience evaluates them is by giving them two stars and a wish.

  • Two stars: Two students give specific feedback about they liked in their writing.
  • A Wish: Another student shares specifically how the writer can improve the writing.

This keeps the experience positive and constructive.

Here are the students who shared: