Scholars begin the focus on our opinion standard (RI 8) by practicing the skill of analyzing an author's main points with a video. Here is a picture of scholars watching the Cue Set video. As scholars watch two advertisements, they answer the questions below:
1. What is the main point of the advertisement?
2. What evidence or reasons does the producer give to support his or her main point?
The reason we practice with a video first is so that scholars can practice this abstract skill with something a bit more concrete (an advertisement). The idea is that watching & analyzing an advertisement is easier than analyzing a complex text. This will give scholars confidence and experience with this new skill.
As we watch the video, students take notes on the answers to the questions above. Here is a sample of student notes during this time.
During the Teaching Strategy I model how to read an opinion article and deconstruct the author's main points. I read Should Everyone get a Trophy? an article in a weekly edition of the Scholastic News to which my school subscribes (this is like a small magazine). Here is a picture of me modeling.
I read the article and record the author's main points: Main point #1 - All kids should get trophies. Main point #2 - All kids should not get trophies. Then, I model how to record the way in which the author supported each point (i.e. what are the reasons the author gives that support all kids should get trophies? Should not?). As I record, scholars scholars take notes so that they have a strong sample response before they go into Guided Practice. Finally, I ask scholars what they think - should all kids get trophies?
I start with an easy topic and an easier article because deciphering author's main points and how they support those points can be tricky. Starting with an easy-straightforward text is a great way to build confidence and to help scholars practice this skill without being overwhelmed by comprehension. Of course, in the next lesson we practice the skill with a primary source document from the American Revolution. You can't just stay in the simple text arena, but you can start there so that you can build up to more complex texts.
During Guided Practice, scholars break up into heterogenous partnerships. As they break up into partnerships, they read the second article - Should Kids be on Facebook? Then, scholars answer the questions below by recording them on their graphic organizers:
1. What points does the author make?
2. How does the author support these points?
During the Guided Practice, I pair lower scholars with medium low scholars and high scholars with medium high scholars. The reason for this is to ensure that no one becomes frustrated with their partner, and also so that my ELL co-teacher and I can strategically support certain groups.
Scholars love partner reading time because it helps them to hear a model of fluent reading other than the teacher. Also, they get to move around the room and find a comfy place to read. This increases oxygen to their brains and it gives them a change of scenery.
During this time scholars rotate through 3 stations. I give scholars 20 seconds to get to the place in the room where they will be for the first rotation. The first scholars who are there with all materials they need receive additions on their paychecks or positive PAWS. Before we begin rotations, we review the Weekly checklist, that way scholars know exactly what they should be working on during their independent rotation time.
During the rotations for this lesson, my small group objective today is to identify the main points an author makes using books that are on each group's highest instructional level. My focus is this objective because it is a pre-requisite objective to RI8 (the focus standard of this week). Scholars read a portion of the same book or article (different for each group depending on reading level, but the same text is read in each group). We practice recording our thinking on dry erase boards to use a different mode of recording and to keep things a little fresh. My ELL co-teacher pulls small groups that focus on RI8 - explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support points in a text, including which reasons and evidence support which points- since this is the focus standard of the week.
The pink group will continue student-led text talk groups. Their focus question will depend upon the text they selected and the part that they read. They are always expected to use quotes to support their answer.
After the first rotation, I do a rhythmic clap to get everyone's attention. Scholars place hands on head and eyes on me so I know they are listening. Then they point to where they go next. I give them 20 seconds to get there. Again, scholars who are at the next station in under 20 seconds with everything they need receive a positive PAW or a paycheck addition. We practice rotations at the beginning of the year so scholars know if they are back at my table, they walk on the right side of the room, if they are with the ELL teacher, they walk on the left side of the room and if they are at their desks, they walk in the middle of the room. This way we avoid any collisions.
At the end of our rotation time I give scholars 20 seconds to get back to their desks and take out materials needed for the closing part of our lesson. Timing transitions helps to make us more productive and communicates the importance of our learning time.