Who Left Their Fossils Deep in the Earth?

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SWABT to ask and answer questions to understand key details in an informational text.

Big Idea

Fossils tell the story of those "terrible lizards" we call dinosaurs.


7 minutes

Context and Overview

We have been immersed in the study of rocks and fossils, and it is impossible not to study dinosaurs--especially at this age when second graders are incredibly intrigued by dinosaurs. It is important to note that we are learning about dinosaurs in the context of understanding the evolution of the Earth through the study of fossils and that dinosaur fossils are a type of fossils found in rock.

To build their content knowledge I am using two sources. One is a video, the other is a story called Dinosaur Fossils by Alvin Granowsky. Because it's part of their anthology, everyone has a copy of the text (which is one way that anthologies come in handy). For your class, another book on dinosaur fossils can replace this title or even a page informational sheet will do. Just make sure everyone has a copy to encourage them to look for text evidence.

After the students watch the video and take notes, I will gather them on the rug and have them share what they learned.

Then students will have an opportunity to write about their learning.

On the rug

After sharing the objective with the students, I will spend time brainstorming about dinosaurs with the students. Speaking and listening are integrated in my classroom. So to prompt their thinking, I pose the question, "What are dinosaurs?" I give them some think time. Then, I ask them to turn to their partner and pair share with each other. After, I take the responses of those who volunteer to share. I transcribe their response on a chart: Brainstorming About Dinosaurs. In this way, I am validating their knowledge and making it public.

Video: All About Dinosaurs

15 minutes

Students will watch a video and take notes about dinosaurs. In this task, I am integrating listening, speaking, reading, and writing. I have taught my students how to take notes previously, and, for today, I have developed a template with text dependent questions: All About Dinosaur Fossils.docx. My students know to write words, phrases and/or add pictures, but they are not writing sentences. They will use this information in their writing. Here is a student hard at work: ReadyToTakeNotes. And here are some examples of their notes:

Before answering each question, I have my students read the question chorally. I pause the video and give my students time to answer the question. If a student asks how to spell a word, I ask the class, "how de we spell ____?" In way, I am keeping the students engaged and holding them accountable. If the word they wish to spell is too hard, then I write it on the board, but again by asking the students to spell it with me, syllable by syllable.

While the video is short, this task takes about 20 minutes.

Here is the video:

Sharing What Was Learned from the Video

10 minutes

Listening and speaking are integral in the learning process. In working with English Language Learners, I work on building their academic language. Students need opportunities to practice, this is one way I deepen their knowledge about dinosaurs. I feel I keep the sharing routine fresh by giving them choice and the opportunity to share what they want to about dinosaurs.

I am looking for the speakers to use complete sentences. This is vital in helping them internalize the forms and functions of the English language. I am looking for the other students to listen attentively:

Reading Groups: Dinosaur Fossils

20 minutes

In order to master the level of rigor that CCSS expects students to perform at, I need to make sure that students have the opportunity to engage in independent practice of the task I ask them to perform in my lessons. For this lesson, I have one group of students working completely independently as they read and record information about dinosaurs using post-its: FindingInformationAboutDinosaursUsingPostIts. For a second, smaller group, I will work with them doing the same, except I will give them more direct support. This may be necessary for some students in your class, too. Eventually, these students will get to the completely independent level. For some, it just takes more practice and support: MySmallGroup.

I asked the students to first read the selection which would take the independent group about 10 minutes. In those 10 minutes, I would read with my small group as much as we could. The selection is rich in content, so the students will still be exposed to much in this time.

Then, I asked to go back and write 4-5 interesting facts they discovered about dinosaurs. In this way I am giving them choice to write down what appeals to them. They will use this information to later write about what they learned about dinosaurs: SmallGroupTakingNotes.

In my small group, I give them support by sitting close to them. In this way if they have a question about how to read a word I can immediately support it. A couple of students in this group, get distracted very easily, so I need to be close to them to redirect their attention. They are good readers. Two other students need me to read parts of the page to them. Also, these will need guidance as to what may be an interesting fact they discovered about dinosaurs.

I am curious to hear about their discoveries: WhatDoesExtinctMean.

Independent Writing: What do fossils tell us about dinosaurs?

15 minutes

Now, students will reread their notes and the post-its. Then, they will write about what they learned about dinosaurs. I provided the content, now they will decide what they want to include in their writing. In this type of writing, I am looking for them to use the academic language of the topic. I am looking for them to use complete sentences and time order words Here are some examples of their work:

As they write, I walk around, and give support. I may help a student spell a word. My students have word books in which they list the words they are asking about. In this way, they are not asking me to write the same word over and over again. Other need redirection, encouragement and a couple of students will sit with me on the round table so that I can guide them with the formation of sentences.