The Woolly Mammoth, a Close Reading Lesson

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Construct an argument that may explain why the woolly mammoth became extinct by reading an article to demonstrate understanding of the concept, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers and stating at least two supporting details.

Big Idea

Constructing an argument should be based on evidence.


1 minutes

Warm up

5 minutes

As part of our unit on elephants, I decided to also cover the extinct relative of the elephant, the wooly mammoth. I used an  article from,  as my anchor for the close reading as well as a short video from the BBC that explains the wooly mammoth's adaptations to spark my students' interest and curiosity. 


Guided practice

20 minutes

When initiating a close reading of an article, I always  pre-teach, or front load, at least 3 academic vocabulary words that the students should have in order to understand the article and any other possible background information they may need. For this reason I created the PowerPoint, Woolly Mammoth, that prepares my students, and sets the expectations for when they read the article. The students use a modified Frayer Vocabulary Model to help them better understand the new academic vocabulary and to refer to, if needed, when reading the article.



15 minutes

By having my students first read the article to themselves, and then choose at least two points that they want to discuss with a partner allows for authentic discussion of the article without my assistance for the initial read. It is extremely beneficial that the articles on are leveled by lexile which also enabled me to differentiate in these small groups of two.

Class Discussion/Wrap Up

10 minutes

Reading the article at least three times, twice independently, then with a partner and finally, engaging in an open discussion whole group, was extremely helpful for my students. Giving my students the opportunity to both read with a purpose, and defend their thinking, is extremely important. In order to meet the challenges of  The Common Core Standards as well as the Next Generation Standards students must be able to express their ideas clearly and with supporting evidence. It is not only about writing with clearly expressed ideas, but also about speaking and sharing those concepts. I know that because my students shared with a partner first, and then with the whole group, they were better prepared to clearly voice their opinions backed by evidence from the text.