Home is Best

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Objective

Students will be able to compose an opinion piece in which they tell a reader the topic and state a preference.

Big Idea

Writing about why they think Earth is the best planet to live on, helps students express an opinion.

Introduction

10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet, go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell the students, “When I say go you will need to stand up and find a space on the rug area where you will not bump into other students. We are going to be free dancing and doing some arm actions so you will need to keep control of your body. You are in charge of what your body does so tell it the right thing to do. Go.”

Once everyone has found a suitable spot on the rug area I play the song Earth sung by Betsy Q.

When the song is over I have the students take a seat back on the rug.

I usually have at least one student who mentions the fact that the song says the Earth “…is a great big circle in the sky…” but Earth is actually a sphere. We discuss this fact together as a whole group.

“I am glad you brought up the fact that Earth is a sphere because we are going to watch and listen to a multimedia book on our SMARTBoard about the Earth.”

 

I use the Betsy Q song to help get the students thinking about the Earth as our home planet. The song provides two basic facts and then some reasons why we should take care of the Earth. Those reasons provide a basis for students to think about why Earth is a great planet to live on. This small piece of background information will help students formulate their opinion later on when they are writing.  

Activity

45 minutes

On the SMARTBoard I have already loaded the PebbleGo website. This website has many resources on numerous topics but it is a paid subscription site. Our school subscribes to the site so we have access to many research opportunities for our students. The site can be used either to introduce students to a topic or used to support instruction. Today I am using it to support instruction by opening the site to the Earth and Space section. Then I click on the Earth Science section and finally the Earth’s Features section.

 

If you do not have the luxury of having this resource available at your school site you can use the book The Earth, by Thomas K. Adamson.

 

I use the fair sticks to select students to come up and take part in clicking on the speaker to hear the narrator and also to click on the vocabulary words to hear the definition. 

 

When we have finished reading the shared interactive experience I ask the students, “Now who can tell me with certainty one fact they know about Earth?”

I select enough students to respond to this question to cover most of the facts we have heard from the interactive reading experience.

“Those were all great facts. Now I would like you to take a seat around the edge of the rug.”

While the students are taking a seat around the edge of the rug I open up a writing paper screen on the SMARTBoard with the writing prompt on it.

“Today at one of the integrated work stations you will get to express your opinion about why you like living on Earth.”

“You will get a paper like this one (I point to the screen).”

I like living on Earth because...

“On it you will need to do what first?”

I allow the students to chant the response, “Write your name!”

“That’s right. Next you will complete the prompt, “I like living on Earth because…””

“You will express your opinion by stating why you like living on Earth. Now if I am writing what are some things I need to keep in mind?”

I just point to students to respond and when I have had enough responses I will repeat back what they all said to me.

“You are all right; I need spaces between my words, I need punctuation, I need a picture clue, my letters need to be well formed, and my sentence needs to make sense. How will I make sure my sentence makes sense to the reader?”

I select one of my more advanced writers to respond as I want the correct answer to be given as a model for everyone else.

“That’s right Ava; I read the sentence to myself and if it makes sense to me it will probably make sense to someone else.”

“What feature does my paper have to help me write my letters correctly?”

I select a student to come up to the SMARTBoard and point out the different colored lines.

“Michael please point to each line and tell us what they represent.”

The student will point to each line and tell the audience what it is.

“Well done Michael; the green line is the grass line, the red line is the plane line and the blue line is the sky line. If I have a tall letter like t can someone come and model how it looks?”

I select a student to come and model the letter t on the board. I purposely select a student who I know will form the letter correctly as I want the students to see a well formed model. I follow the same procedure with a short letter (probably m or n) and a letter which hangs below the grass line (probably like y or g).

“Thanks for those great examples.”

 “Now what if I need help to write some of the words I need for my sentence? What resources are available to me?”

Once again I just point to students until all of the resources have been covered.

“Those are all good resources; I can tap out the word, I can use the sight word wall, I can use the planet name word bank, I can use books in book area, I can use a friend or a grown-up. It sounds like you are ready to go and be awesome writers.”

“I will place the checklist at the work station so you can go over it to make sure you have remembered all the things good writers do.” 

“Does anyone have any questions?”

 

Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some Earth writing fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”

 

Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.

Students working on the writing prompt

 

WHY OPINIONS?

It is important for students to be able to formulate opinions as this is a skill they will need to use in later life. We use opinions to make many different choices – like the foods we eat, the clothes we wear, and the person we elect to become a public official.

While it is important to formulate an opinion, it is even more important to be able to rationalize why you hold that opinion. Later on students will become aware of the difference between popular opinion and having your own opinion.  If they are going to choose to go against popular opinion they need the skills to be able to explain their opinion clearly for the opposing point of view and rationalize their stand with facts or physical evidence.  

Closure

10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

Student reading her sentence 

Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to read their opinion to the rest of the class.

“Boys and girls, your exit ticket today to get your snack is to read your opinion to the rest of the class. Can anyone tell me something I should remember when I am reading to the rest of the class?”

“Great idea Jonathan; I should read with a clear voice.”

“Who can tell me what is something I should do as an audience?”

“Well done Rhys; I should have my eyes on the speaker and be listening to what they say.”

“Now that we know what we should be doing, I am going to use the fair sticks to choose who is going to read first. Here we go.”

I use the fair sticks to select the order of the students. 

Once a student has read their opinion to the rest of the class they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. 

Assessment

I use the Best Reason to Live on Earth Opinion Checklist to go over the student’s work and once it is complete I will place the student’s work in his/her collection portfolio.

Middle student sample

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the objectives of the lesson. I am looking to see if the student is able to accurately follow the directions for the assignment which means they will meet the overall objective for the lesson. Did the student write their name on their work? Did the student use proper grammar? Does the student’s sentence make sense? Did they draw an illustration which supports their sentence and could be used as a picture clue?

The checklist can be used to guide my instruction as I have evidence of the student’s capabilities and will use that information to scaffold instruction accordingly. The checklist is also a nice way to keep families informed on their student’s progress in the classroom. 

Extensions

Students make a painted Earth by having a circular sheet of white construction paper. They fold the paper circle in half and open it up whole again. Now the student dabs blobs of blue paint, white paint and green paint over one half of the paper. Next the student closes the paper along the fold they created previously and gently rubs it with an open hand. When they open the circle out whole again the colors have all mixed and swirled together to make an image a lot like looking at Earth from space. They glue Earth facts on the back and then we hang the Earths from the ceiling.

Student work on display 1                              Student work on display 2

 

We use the Earth is, looks, and has cards to sort Earth statements such; round, water, air, etc. We discuss the selections as we make them. For example a student may put round under looks, but another student might want to put it under is. Both selections make sense and it makes for a lively discussion at the table. 

Students working on sorting descriptive details about the Earth

Students recording their details results

Sorting Earth details