The science text is full of colorful illustrations and captions that complement the text. I use an unrelated topic to teach the skill. This gives students more opportunities to apply the skill and learn from the topic they are currently reading. I directed students to a page in the science book with an illustration and captions about the parts of a cactus. I modeled reading the text, looking at the illustration, and reading the captions. I noted how the illustration helped me understand the text and how the captions gave more information than the text alone.
Next, I used questions from teacher’s edition to model using the illustration and text to answer them. Examples: What structures do many desert plants have for storing water? Placed a transparency over the page in the book and circled the structures in the illustration and underlined the answers in the captions with a dry erase marker. I modeled this with a few more illustrations in the text. As I worked, I asked students to help me find the answers. They underlined them in their own text using the transparency and dry erase markers.
<<vid about transparency & markers>>
Students work in pairs during independent practice. I grouped students with similar reading abilities. Grouping high and low readers can be frustrating to the high reader who often has to wait a long amount of time for the low reader read the text. Students with similar reading abilities are more patient and willing to help each other. If I have non-readers, they are grouped with a middle level pair, who will read aloud to them so that they can get the same information. I occasionally pulled these students into a small group to read aloud with me and complete the reading guide. With both strategies, low and non-readers are hearing the information read and learning from the text.
I used the reading guide I created to remind students to look at the illustrations and captions to learn more information about plants. I had students apply this skill in context of overall reading versus giving them a series of illustrations and captions and have them answer questions about them. This is because that is what real readers do. They read and look at illustrations and captions as they read. I want the reading to be as authentic as possible. Within the context of the guide, I specifically asked questions that could only be found by reading the captions. I also placed a banner in the guide as a reminder. (See pages 3–6)
To assess, I checked for correct answers to questions relating to the skill of using information gained from illustrations and captions. Scoring 80% or above was considered mastery.
I wanted students to articulate what they had learned today. Each student was given an index card and answered the following prompt: What was learned today – list examples. I read them to see whether or not they stood today's content. I created a follow-up lesson based on student responses.