Summary and Context
Routine is essential in helping my students master reading and writing skills. Therefore, today we are doing our usual routine of reading a story (in today's case, The Ugly Vegetables, by Grace Lin) with text dependent questions. The illustrations are wonderful and the storyline a delightful tale of a mom and a daughter planting their vegetable garden. The daughter learns to appreciate the beauty of the Chinese vegetables her mother plants. And, my students become acquainted with vegetables from a different culture. This expands their knowledge of vegetables.
To move my students through the reading, I have created text dependent questions on a template for them to answer. Most of the students will also work independently to answer the text dependent questions. I will pull a small group of students to assist them.
Before embarking on the reading, I will ask students what they know about vegetables and if they have questions about vegetables.
Later in the lesson, students will have the opportunity to write about the setting of the story, in this case they will describe it.
For homework, I am asking students to read the rest of the story and recount it.
On the rug, I share the objective, and I involve my students in a Pair Sharing with the following question: what do you already know about vegetables? They turn to their partner on the carpet and share their knowledge. Once they are done, I transcribe their knowledge on a circle map.
Then, I ask them to think about questions they have about vegetables. I transcribe those on a chart. Once we are done asking the questions, I ask the students to evaluate the type of questions they have asked. I ask them if there are questions we can combine. I do this because I want them to be aware of the type of questions they are asking and to be mindful of not repeating them.
In brainstorming about their knowledge about vegetables, I am curious as to how they have synthesized the information they have learned previously about vegetables. I am looking for them to demonstrate in depth knowledge about vegetables. Revisiting a similar topic in a different context is very beneficial for my students.
This is a story that most of my students can read and will be comfortable working independently on. I want to keep them accountable for their learning and that is one reason I am asking them to answer the questions. I have listed the page number of where they can find the answer so that I am able to work with my group of students without interruptions.
The students I am working with in a small group require help with staying focused, guidance about where the answer may be, and decoding some words.
I sit with them on the round table because I am able to see everyone from there. It is always important to monitor all students.
With the CCSS comes freedom about how long we can spend with a story. For the purpose of practicing text dependent questions, recounting, and growing content knowledge about vegetables to get us ready to read Charlotte's Web, I only did one lesson with this story. It's a beautiful story and at this time of the year, the storyline is not complex enough to warrant more lessons for my students. But feel free to use this story as long as you need to meet the needs of your students.
I did create text dependent questions for the rest of the story in case there is a need for them: First Reading the Ugly Vegetables Second Part.
I pull my students together and ask them what questions came up for them as they read and answered the questions about this plot. I feel it is a good idea to check in. It tells my students that I am keeping them accountable for their work and that it matters to me what they have questions about. Listing questions about the plot and vocabulary gives me the opportunity to see whether they did understood the text.
How did I handle the vocabulary list? Most of my students knew the meaning to most of the words. And as you tell by the list, some of my students did need support with some words. And in doing this lesson again, I would allow for more lessons to address the words. Even though it was a small number of students with questions about certain words, I still made the point to chart the words. In this way, these students feel validated.
Since the author uses Chinese in naming the vegetables, it was good to read the names as best as we could out loud. Yet, these names did not keep my students from understanding the plot because the illustrations match the words very well.
There were some names of flowers my students had questions about. They had not heard of peonies, poppies or petunias before. But it was enough to read the words together and for me to reference the illustrations to show them which flower was which. But, again, not knowing how to read these words, did not keep them from getting the gist of plot. My goal was to give them practice answering text dependent questions not to build content knowledge about flowers.
Now that my students got the chance to ask questions about the story, I pull them together on the carpet to examine some key details deeper. Before proceeding with the discussion, I make sure to review the rules of participation. I have attached the charts: Handing-Off Discussion Starters and Socratic Seminar Rules, as well as the Socratic Seminar Rules to assist in the process of implementing Socratic Seminar as I carry it out in my classroom.
The questions for discussion are:
1. Who are the characters?
2. What is happening in the story?
3. Where did this story take place? And why is this a good setting for the story?
Students will now write to describe the setting. The skill of describing and explaining can be difficult with English Language Learners. My students need much practice with both. That is why I am asking them to do this task. In addition, they are getting practice about providing evidence from the text which is a CCSS requirement. Having them look for evidence, asks them go back and reread, which helps them strengthen their reading skills and their reading stamina.
Here are some examples:
I allocate different amounts of time to different stories. With this story, I am moving quickly. The students will take their anthology home read the rest of the story and recount it for homework. The time I spend on a story depends on the interest of the students, on what we have read previously or what we are going to be reading next. Before this story, I spent quite a bit of time on the story, The Tiny Seed (see my curriculum for more lessons on this story), and that is part of why I am moving this task faster along. For me, it is important to balance fiction with non-fiction and maintain my students' interest high.
But given the needs of the each classroom, this story can be used longer. Here are some examples of their recounting: