Summary and Context:
Today, I am rereading the text of of Tomas and the Library Lady. Rereading is a very powerful strategy. It allows for deeper comprehension as students get to revisit the characters, setting, and plot details. With this second read, I am asking my students not just to understand what happened, but also to understand why. I will ask them to analyze the author's purpose for writing this text. The text dependent questions I ask will get them dig deeper into the text in this way.
After they read, I will call the students to the rug, where we will engage in a Socratic Seminar to continue discussing the author's purpose.
Then, my students will have a chance to respond in writing in their journals to synthesize their ideas about the text.
I will share with them the student friendly objective: I can use evidence from the text to know why the author wrote the story.
I will ask them to tell what they understand in this objective and what they do not. I keep putting the word evidence in the objective because I want my students to know what that means. My district will transition into the CCSS fully next year, and I am the only one doing the CCSS in language arts this year. That means this second grade class is hearing and learning the language of the CCSS for the first time. That is why I am constantly repeating certain words.
Next, we review what what we have read. I tell them that, even though we have read this story once, in rereading it we will be able to understand the plot and the author's purpose much better.
These are the text dependent questions for the second read. I remind them that they will need to refer back to the text to provide evidence to the answers they are giving.
To help them pay attention to the text, I start some questions with, "In the sentence ..." This stem helps my students direct their attention explicitly back to the text.
As I ask questions, I will modify as needed. I tend to create more questions than I need. The focus for this discussion is about making the students aware of the author's purpose for writing this story and ultimately to reveal the author's bias. If some questions help get at that purpose better than others, then I will focus on those ones.
I also keep repeating, "how does the author want us to feel or think about ________?" because I want them to understand that every author has their particular purpose in telling about the characters and places they write about. This is part of the intention in creating a space for this type of conversation to happen.
I gather the students back on the carpet for Socratic Seminar. I review the rules for participation by asking the students to share the rules. Then I remind them of the discussion starters listed on the Handing-Off Chart. This chart supports their entry into the discussion.
Before engaging my students in the discussion, I review quickly who is telling the story to make clear make the third person voice that being used and to quickly review the Handing Off process.
The focus of the discussion is the question: What is the author trying to tell us so far in the story?
I have attached a document that goes more in depth about how I implement Socratic Seminar in my classroom in case you are curious to read more.
Now we move into journal response time, in which students get a chance to tell me how they are synthesizing the ideas that they are forming about the text based on our reading and on the discussion. The CCSS ask students to explain their thinking. It ask them to write across the disciplines. That is why I engage my students in this type of writing.
Today, they are writing to explain:
(In hindsight, I believe asking, "What does the author want us to know about Tomas and his family?" would be a better question for both during Socratic Seminar and their writing time.)
As they write, I am walking around, making sure they are on task. As they finish, I read their work and give them feedback about whether they are providing evidence from the text to support their findings.
I am looking for them to use complete sentences and to refer back to the text in these sentences with evidence.
Here are samples of their writing:
As most students work independently, I pull a group of students who need support at this time of the year. I differentiate their responses by producing a collective response. For some students, it takes the whole year to meet the tasks, and this group practice is a necessary scaffold to get them there.
Before writing their response, it is necessary to answer a question and reread: I Have a Question about what I am Reading.