The lessons housed within this unit all provide practice on specific skills or strategies. Some lessons were written to see what students remember and/or can do at the beginning of the year. Others were used to re-teach groups of students who hadn’t quite mastered the chosen skill when it was first introduced. Still others were designed to give students meaningful practice while I conducted required testing.
All lessons used texts that were familiar or easily decodable so that students’ energies were spent on skill practice rather than trying to just make sense of the text itself. Many lessons include reproducibles that were made with graphics from Kevin and Amanda’s Fonts, Teaching in a Small Town, and Melonheadz Illustrating.
In years past, we taught one skill at a time: read a passage and determine the main idea, read a book and compare and contrast characters in it. Well, those days are gone. With the Common Core assessments, students are asked to answer “layered” questions that cover multiple standards. And because our assessments are changing, our instruction and students’ experiences with texts must also change.
This is day two of a three-day lesson using passages from a Scholastic News Magazine on robots. The first article and accompanying part of the packet has been completed. Today’s lesson focuses on the shorter article and packet.
My plan for today looks very similar to day one’s plan. We are basically completing the same activity. However, I gave up control today and moved from whole group instruction to partner work.
Rather than reading the article whole group again, I had students read the article with their writing partner (whom they sit beside). This article was much shorter and less complicated than the first so students were able to handle it in their partnerships. As they read, I circulated the room making sure students could read and understand the passage.
After reading each paragraph, I directed students to complete the corresponding parts of their packet. This way, they worked on determining the main idea of a paragraph directly after reading it and while it was fresh in their minds. This seemed to work best when we did the same activity on Day One in whole group. They continued this process - read a paragraph, write the main idea - until they read the entire article. When they finished the page, they worked together to determine the main idea of the whole article. Once again, I had several students who were able to do this without much struggle, while others had a difficult time putting all ideas together into on complete main idea. I tended to linger a little longer at these tables helping them process information verbally.
Once all groups were finished, I asked them to share their main idea statements. I was pleasantly pleased that most groups were able to write complete sentences that gave a clear picture of what the article was mainly about. I asked students to put materials in their binders so that they would be ready for tomorrow’s work of comparing the main points in articles one and two.