Context and Overview
We are moving on to reading the next chapter of Charlotte's Web, "The Crickets." I am taking the time to build my students' content knowledge about insects so that they can access the text in a deeper way. The beauty of nature is an important theme in the story, and E.B. White uses Insects in poignant ways. I take the opportunity to teach my students about the variety of insects that exist.
To start, I am asking my students what they know about insects. Then, I will have them browse books on insects as they decide on one insect to research. They will sit and brainstorm questions they want to ask about their insects. My students will then have an opportunity to share their questions.
Next, we will read the chapter, "The Crickets," with a few text dependent questions to encourage students to pay attention to text evidence. Afterwards, my students will get a chance to respond in their journals.
From the rug, I begin by sharing the objective. Then, we brainstorm what they know about insects. I have them pair-share first and then have a few share their responses. I transcribe their responses on a chart: Circle Map About Insects. While it may seem redundant to keep using this technique, there is great value in this repeated use. I get to hear what the students know about a particular topic. They get to share and practice academic language. Its repetition helps my students feel confident about the routines that happen in my class.
I like to make activities as interactive as possible for my students. I also like to provide choice for my students, and that is why I am giving them the time to browse books on insects. My language arts period starts right after recess, so I took the time to set different insect books on their tables. I got additional books from the public library, but, luckily, we also have a good selection of insect books in our school library.
As students walk around and choose, I walk around, too. I pay attention to what they are doing and I make sure they are on task. I ask them questions about they may possible choose and sometimes, I stop them and ask them to tell me a little bit of what they have perused.
I feel that this helps them make up their mind if they are having a hard time deciding. I want them to know I am an active participant as well and care about they are discovering.
I gather the students back on the rug and I explain what they will be doing next. I have made copies of a template with the 5 W's. In each category, they will be asking a question or two about their insect.
How will they come up with these questions? Well, they will use their books. As they read their text, they need to pay attention to what they are reading and see if the content they are reading prompts them to ask a certain question. For example, this student is formulating questions about monarchs.
And, if they are having a difficult time, they can borrow one of the questions found in their books. Given their excitement about choosing one particular insect, I am sure they have some questions in mind.
I reference the chart, Thin & Thick QuestionsChart, to remind them of the quality of questions they need to be asking and writing (you can see my reflection for more on thin/thick questions). I hand them the template as I dismiss them row by row.
As they work, I walk around and give support to some who need help formulating questions. Some students will need me to remind them to use the question mark at the end.
I am curious as to what questions they will be asking. Here are some examples:
Because this activity is taught later in the year, when my students have had many opportunities to ask questions, I am thinking they will not meet with too many difficulties in formulating questions about their insects.
Now, I gather the students back on the carpet. They bring their questions with them. I ask them to turn to their carpet partner. I assign who is Partner A and who is Partner B. Partner B gets to read his or her questions first.
My students need much practice with academic language and with listening and speaking skills. They need practice with sharing with a purpose. This is one way I help them master these skills.
Pair sharing offers those students who do not always feel confident about sharing in a whole group a safe space to share. I make sure I am listening in, so that their sharing stays focus on the topic at hand.
Now that students got an opportunity to share with each other, a couple get to share with the whole class. When my students share in a whole group, they get feedback from their peers. This feedback is specific about the details in their work.
The feedback is always specific and about the work, and, in this way, it maintains this space a safe and respectful experience.
These are the speakers for the lesson:
"The Crickets," chapter is a short chapter and that is why I have decided to have most of my students read it independently, as I work with a small group of students, who need assistance at this time of the year.
I have developed text dependent questions for my students to answer: Chapter XV- The Crickets. Everyone will be answering the same questions. Those questions that are not finished can be taken home for homework.
Also, they need help with guidance of where to find the answer. At this point, they still can get overwhelmed with a chapter book. They still need to build more confidence of how to navigate this chapter book. And, that is why working in a small group allows them to build. They consider, Why Does Summer Ending Make Avery & Fern Sad?
The other students can work with others and help one another, but each one has to give their own response on their sheet. Here they are some of their examples:
I gather the students back on the rug and briefly ask them about what they read in this chapter and what this chapter was mainly about. I am looking for them to share that the crickets are announcing the end of summer and how this makes the characters feel.
I feel it is a good idea to bring closure to a lesson and review whether the objective was met or not met. This is their recap.