Up and Over

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SWBAT participate in an unencumbered read of Swimmy by Leo Lionni. SWBAT participate in a collaborative group task where they must use teamwork to accomplish a task.

Big Idea

Together we are better!

Prepare the Learner

10 minutes

Swimmy- Set the stage for learning/activate prior knowledge


I ask students: Who can tell me what they remember about teamwork?  What is teamwork?  Where do we see teamwork?  What does teamwork sounds like?  I have students turn and talk to a partner about what they remember about teamwork.  As students are talking I monitor and assist where necessary.  I like to do this because it gets kids thinking and talking in a nonthreatening environment.  If they can practice verbalizing their thoughts with one person, many kids are less intimidated to speak in front of the whole group.  I ask: What would like to share something they talked about?

I show the students the big book Teamwork and we look at the table of contents.  I ask: What does the table of contents show us? (what is in the book)  We find and read ‘Swimmy.’  I point to the page number and ask: What page is Swimmy on? (26) I remind students that this is the page number that the story begins on.  I ask for a volunteer to find that page, 26, in the big book.  I do this to reinforce the idea that we can find what we need in a book by looking at the page number. 


I ask for a volunteer to come up and point to the title.  I read it aloud as I run my finger under it.  I ask students to read the title.  I cue them by saying: I touch, you read.  Ready?   This is a common cue that I use all year long.  The kids know that they are to read what I am touching.  I do this to reinforce tracking, spaces between words and pacing. 


We also talk about the importance of the title and author.  I stress that the title is important because it names the book and the author is important because he/she wrote the words that tell us the story.  I prompt making a connection: You will all be authors this year because you are going to write just like Leo Lionni does!


I point to and read the name of the author.  I ask: What is the job of the author? (write the words)  I let students know that Leo Lionni also illustrated the story.   I show the students the picture and vocabulary word school.  We talk about what we see in the picture and I encourage students: As we browse the pictures in the book, I want you to look for a school of fish.  I also talk about how it is a multi-meaning word.  I prompt: Is this the picture you expected to see for this word?   What did you expect to see?  What do we USUALLY think of and see when we hear the word 'school?'  This discussion is especially important for my second language learners as they build their vocabulary and understanding.

I remind students that good readers often browse a story before they read it.  I say: Boys and girls, it is a good habit to browse the text before you read it.  It can help you get an idea of what you are going to read about!

I remind students that authors sometimes write  a story to teach a lesson.  In this story, Lionni is teaching several lessons while he’s entertaining the reader.  I say: As we read, listen and look for examples of teamwork. 

Interact with text/concept

45 minutes

Swimmy- Unencumbered 1st Read


The first read of Swimmy is unencumbered, meaning we read it all the way through, ideally, without stopping.  I do this so kids get the gist of the story.  However, with my second language learners I often read with expression and move my body to help the kids understand the meaning of unknown words.  For example, with ‘fierce,’  I lower my voice and lower my voice to almost a snarl.  With ‘darting’ I quickly move from the left to the right. 

Before I begin reading, I review the focus questions: How is Swimmy different?  How do the fish work together as a team?

As I read, I run my finger under each word in each line from left to right to reinforce the concept that we read from left to right and from top to bottom.  

Extend Understanding

30 minutes

 We play “Up and Over” in teams of five. 

After we play, we discuss what they did as a team to move the ball without dropping it.

I ask:  What common goal were you working toward within your teams?  (move the ball to the last person in line)What strategies helped you to move the ball? (talking, paying attention) What did you say? (move your hands closer, I can’t reach, I have it,  etc.)  What did you do? (stood closer together)


Here is a video of one group!


We connect to the reading: How is what you did like what you saw the fish do in our story?  How did they use teamwork?  Was it the same or different as your teamwork strategies?  We always circle back to the literature for learning and understanding.  These connections also help the kids see that reading is also purposeful!