Transferring Skills: Evaluating the Central Idea in a Student-Selected Text

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SWBAT determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of a text by identifying the main idea and providing an objective summary.

Big Idea

Take students transfer skills from common, classroom texts to an independent text?

Access current knowledge to increase anticipation and comprehension

10 minutes

Today students are going to transfer the non-fiction reading skills that we've practiced over the past few days to an independent cold read.  By cold read, I mean a text they haven't read before and they are reading independently.  Each student will be reading a self-selected article from a recent news magazine.  I am fortunate that my district subscribes to a classroom set of Upfront Magazine for my students. I also do this same activity with The Washington Post, which will let you subscribe for free for classroom use.  However, with a classroom set of IPads or Chrome books or other E-readers, students could find articles from any news source you feel is appropriate. 

In addition to building non-fiction reading skills, this lesson also exposes students to current events.  To prepare students, I want to identify the students' knowledge of current events.  I will set the timer to three minutes and students will write everything they can about current events (W.9-10.10).  They can write about global, local, or national events.  At the end of two minutes, I will ask students to write what they know on the white board at the front of the room.  This strategy is from Chris Tovani who has suggested that accessing prior knowledge helps construct comprehension.  We will spend a few minutes discussing the current events on the board before we jump into reading.

My students love this reading/warm up strategy.  I typically ask them to write something that they have some knowledge about.  It helps them feel even more connected to whatever topic we're covering that day.  In this video I  offer an explanation of this strategy.

Independent Student Work Time

35 minutes

I distribute the current Upfront magazine and I ask students to peruse the cover.  We have a brief conversation about what the cover of the magazine tells us.  I do this because identifying and analyzing text features is a state tested skill and is a good way to build comprehension.  Because many students, and adults, don't read a paper copy of a newspaper anymore, it's important for me to build these skills so that they are able to build comprehension from the title or cover of a piece all the way through to the end.  

I instruct students to spend a couple minutes looking through the magazine and deciding which article they are going to read and respond to.  I explain that the article has to be a minimum of one page long.  I explain this because the magazine is full short pieces, political cartoons, etc., and for our purposes they need an entire article.  Once students have selected their article, I distribute the Nonfiction assignment sheet and explain to students that they have 20-25 minutes to read the article and complete the assignment.  This document, nonfiction assignment sheet--student work, demonstrates a completed assignment.  Head over to the reflection to hear what I thought needed to be improved on this student's assignment. 

While students are working, I will walk around and make sure they are on task. Throughout the assignment, students must give an objective summary (RI.9-10.2), identify the main idea of the text (RI.9-10.2), identify vocabulary they didn't understand and explain how they gathered the meaning of that vocabulary (L.9-10.4) and identify text evidence in which the reader agreed/disagreed (RI.9-10.1), and finally, write a personal response to the text (W.9-10.10). 

This lesson gives me a day to really assess how students are doing with summarizing, identifying main ideas, and identifying text evidence to support analysis.  I want to make sure that I'm not leaving certain skills in the dust, but rather, they are continually building on each other.  I think the worse thing I can do is let students think that reading skills are used independently.  


5 minutes

During the last few minutes of class, I will collect assignments and remind students to continue reading their individual reading books outside of class.  It is a expectation in my classroom that students are reading outside of class.  I have an extensive classroom library and I work to help students find a book they will enjoy.  One of the procedures we cover early in the year, explains to students that when they are finished with an assignment, they are to always have an individual reading book and to read it.  In fact, my building has embraced the idea of literacy across the curriculum and reading is an expectation throughout the school.