Summary and Context
My English Language Learners need to practice the skill of describing, and to build their content knowledge of the world. My students also need to develop their reading stamina and tackle more challenging texts. That is why today, I will have them choose a second habitat to research using reference materials. They will create a descriptive poster about that habitat.
First, I will be model the process. Then, students will work independently to analyze the reading and create a habitat poster. Finally, students will share their posters with their peers.
After sharing the objective, I ask my students, "What have we been learning about these days?" To give them some think-time, I count to seven before asking a few students to share out loud. This is a simple technique, but even a brief review helps students focus their attention.
Showing my students how to conduct research, organize the information, and create their poster is vital for their success with this project. Today, I will challenge my students with advanced research material, so I keep the organization of the poster simple, with a three-column template.
Because thirds may be hard for some students to draw, I demonstrate how to fold the paper into three equal areas. (I will provide folded paper for students who need extra support). Then, I guide students through the categories on the template.
I let students know that they will highlighting important information for their poster in their research materials. The categories will guide students on what information to look for.
I have made several copies of each of the following habitat handouts, from this website: marine, desert, grassland, rainforest, and freshwater wetlands I've included an example of the rainforest habitat. As you can see, both the information and the language are challenging for this grade level.
I ask students which habitat they want to research. I request that they choose a different habitat from the one they researched for their paragraph.
Some of the classroom management techniques I use include Table Points and Student Choice. I use my class's Table Points to determine which students get to choose their habitat topic first. I start with the students at the table with the most points. If there are students at that table who have not been behaving, then I move to other students at other tables.
I make sure that I show great enthusiasm about each habitat, so students do not feel like they are losing out if they don't get their first choice.
The first step in creating posters is reading and researching. I have taught my students to highlight only the information that is required for their poster. I don't want them highlighting everything, so I walk around as they get started with their reading to monitor their behavior and to redirect them as needed.
Once I determine that they are on task, I sit at the round table. Once they have completed their research and highlighted all the information they think they will use, they come to me so I can check their work and give them their materials.
As I give them their poster boards, pre-folding them if needed, I remind students to use the template to reference their categories.
My students are very enthusiastic readers, and love to share with me what they are learning. So as I sit at the round table, I encourage students to share. They explain the animals that live in wetland habitats, and how they clean our water (videos). It is important to share students' enthusiasm as they share their discoveries. It helps to keep their interest in their work high.
Now students work independently to create their posters. I walk around and remind them that they need to organize the material on their poster. I remind them that the objective is to capture the distinctive features of each habitat on their poster.
I make myself available for anything they need. Some will need help organizing their information; others will need help with spelling words; others will need encouragement to stay on task.
I have told them that if they finish listing details in each category, they can begin coloring.
I have included several examples of student posters in the Resources.
Now, a few of my students will share their learning with the class. In sharing, they get to practice academic language and their speaking and listening skills. I also get to build community with them by gathering everyone on the carpet. They also build self-esteem, which is quite important for their learning.
After the speakers share, they receive feedback. This is the system I use:
I have included two videos of student sharing in the Resources.