Water, Water, Everywhere

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SWBAT use several comprehension strategies in order to better understand the text.

Big Idea

Today's lesson has a great science connection. Not only are we working on reading comprehension but students will also learn about the water cycle and understand why clean water is essential to living things.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

We are actually going to be working with two different texts today.  The first text, "A Clean Drink of Water" from Readworks, is quite complex, and I know will offer a challenge to my students.  This text offers a great science connection with the water cycle.  The second text, called "Water Conservation," is rather simple, and we won't have to really highlight any vocabulary.  The main reason I chose it that it has a lot of social studies connections, which will teach my students that clean water is essential to all living creatures and help support the CCSS shift towards building their content knowledge.

The process of this lesson is exactly the same as yesterday's lesson (the process is listed below in the last paragraph of this section).  I experiment a lot in my classroom, and I wanted to give myself the chance to get familiar and comfortable with this whole process.  I also wanted to use this same process so I could really see if I was doing a good job in getting the students to have a deep understanding of the content through this process.  Today we are working with the text as well as the text.

We are addressing a great many standards today just as we did yesterday.  We are going to be answering questions about the text, and when we get to the text dependent question part of our lesson we will be identifying the main idea of our texts.  This addresses standards RI1.1 and RI1.2.  We are going to be connecting the ideas of the two texts, not only discussing the water cycle but what part we play in the water cycle in order to keep water clean.  This addresses standard RI1.3.  We are diving deep into the text to clarify the meaning of words and also to use text features to help us in our comprehension.  This addresses standards RI1.4  and RI1.5.

For today's lesson you'll need either the Smartboard Helping Our Earth.notebook or Activboard Helping Our Earth.flipchart lesson.  You'll need to go to ReadWorks.org and download the We Need Water text and questions.  You'll also need to go to ReadWorks and get the "A Clean Drink of Water text and questions."  You'll need to make enough copies of the texts and question sets for each student in your class.  Students will need highlighters and pencils.  If you choose to do team competitions for the question answering part you may also want team captains to get a white board and dry erase marker. 

Just remember that because I did this lesson at the end of the year, I used my entire reading block to teach this lesson. You can break this lesson up into 3 days if you need.  It would look like:

  • Day 1 - Reading and Getting the "Gist" - Strategic Highlighting and Marking Of the Text To Improve Comprehension
  • Day 2 - Students Answer Text Dependent Questions - Go Back Into the Text to Find Evidence
  • Day 3 - Written Work or Project- Responding to the Text

Accessing the Text and Getting the "Gist"

10 minutes

Just like yesterday's lesson, I am going to have students read the texts first just so they can get the gist of the story.  Because of the varying abilities of students in my room, my students are going to access the text in different ways.  I strategically  group my students so that my students who struggle can access the complex, grade level text and be supported at the same time.  Some ideas that I use to make this happen include:

  • Higher readers can whisper read the text.
  • Readers who may struggle can partner reader.
  • Struggling readers can also be pulled back to a small group, and you can choral read the text together.
  • A stronger reader can peer tutor a lower reader.  The higher reader can read the text and the lower reader can whisper read along with their peer tutor.

For today, I assigned 3 of my highest readers to read the texts to 3 of my students who struggle with complex texts.  Those students who needed support would follow along with their fingers and whisper read the text along with their peer tutor.  The rest of my students were able to whisper read both texts to themselves so they could get the gist of both stories. You can see my students accessing the text here: Reading and Getting the Gist - Day Two Clean Water.

Discussing and Highlighting Vocabulary to Improve Comprehension

45 minutes

I had my students read both texts.  The second text was really rather simple, so I said, "Let's set the story 'A Clean Drink of Water' aside for right now.  Let's concentrate on the story called 'We Need Water.'"  I had previewed this text ahead of time, looking for vocabulary and text features that I knew would trip my students up and hinder their comprehension.  If you look at this example of student work, Example of Water Cycle Marking of Text.docx, you can see what we had highlighted in our text.  We spent a great deal of time looking at the graphic on the first page and discussing the whole water cycle and the vocabulary in that graphic.

You'll also notice that I had them highlight words that weren't necessarily in bold print.  Some of my students I knew didn't know the word "journey."  I had tables work together to discuss the content.  I said, "Who can tell me if they can find the word that means to take a trip."  Tables talked, and then I called on volunteers to come up and point at the word they thought it was on the Smartboard lesson.  We had a group discussion and then I confirmed whether that was the correct word or not. 

And just like yesterday's lesson, I also had students take their pencil and mark the route from the word in bold faced print to the footnote.  I know for myself, I blew past those kinds of text features when I was a kid, and I want to make sure my students are more active readers than I was at that age.  You can see this stage of the lesson by watching this video: Discussing Vocab to Improve Comprehension - Day Two Clean Water.mp4.

Answering Questions and Justifying Our Answers

25 minutes

Since it was the end of the year, I tried to make this part of the lesson as engaging as possible.  We used the question set that came with the story.  If I had more time, I could have taken the questions that came with the story and made them more rigorous, but, because this was the end of the school year, these questions had to suffice.  I still had students go back and look for evidence to prove that the choice that they made was correct.  We would read the question together, tables would talk about what the correct answer was, and team captains would write down their choice on a white board.  Then we would have a class discussion where students had to justify why they thought their choice was correct.  Last, I would confirm what the correct answer was. We answered questions for both of our stories at this time.

We kept score and at the end of the question part of the lesson I awarded prizes to whichever table(s) got the most points (it was the end of the year after all).  My students had challenges being mentally engaged in the last few days of school, and I wanted to reward them for going back into the text to look for evidence.  You can see this portion of the lesson here: Finding Evidence to Answer Questions - Day Two Clean Water.mp4.

Our Independent Work

20 minutes

I feel that it's important to differentiate work products in my classroom.  This simple chart, Common Words in Writing Responses.pdf, was an amazing resource for me and I hope it will be for you when you plan future lessons for your students.  You can see how I used this chart to differentiate the work Differentated Ways With Water.pdf for all the students in my class.  This way students who need more support can still complete a project in response to a text, and those students who need a challenge can still be working on the same concept, just at a higher level. 

I explained what each group needed to do for their project and passed out the student work.  I gave students about 20 minutes or so to complete their projects.

Our Closure

5 minutes

Again, I wanted my closure to be short and sweet so I asked my students about what they had learned today.  I asked, "What did we do in order to understand what the water cycle was? Why did we highlight today?  How can you protect water?  Why is it important to protect water?"  We had a quick class conversation and summed up our learning for the day.