I chose this book because it was on the Common Core State Standards 'Exemplar List' of recommended titles. The text is in the higher end of the 2nd grade, but it has really nice illustrations and is a chapter book. In the story, the cat undergoes significant character changes so it was easy to use for this lesson.
I taught a lesson previous to this lesson called "Characters Change - Let's Look at a Picture", in which I introduced/reviewed story elements and we discussed how characters changed in pictures. In this lesson, I go beyond the familiar to a new character and story. The students have to use the story elements to determine how this unique cat changes over the course the story in response to events and actions.
Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics. The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary. My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.
Engage the students and introduce the lesson
In the introduction above, I mentioned the 'literature story elements'. These elements occur in every piece of literature and I want my students to be able to identify these in this story as well. When they can describe the structure of the story, including describing how the beginning introduces the action and the end concludes the action (RL.2.5), they are analyzing the structure of the text and evaluating how the different parts relate to the whole story. They are using 'close reading' skills to comprehend an a complex example of literature.
Review the concepts quickly
Introduce the chart & model
Thinking out loud is an essential way of modeling the close reading that the Common Core standards encourage. There is also a shift in the use of vocabulary in context to help students develop a rich content knowledge.
Explain the task
Read and evaluate
Students are examining how characters in a story respond to challenges and events. As they they describe these challenges, they analyze how and why the characters develop and interact (RL.2.3). When students delve deeper into the text to looks at these story development, they are active participants where the teacher facilitates the process of learning.
Explain the task
Monitor as students work
Students who are able verify their answers with examples from the text are using skills encouraged by the Core Standards' shift toward using text evidence.
Ideas for Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson can be scaffolded up and down, depending on the level of your students.
My special education students were able to participate in the whole group discussion, but the independent reading was not something they could do. I had to read the story to my students anyway because I didn't have enough copies of the book. The students just needed some prompting with ideas, which could be addressed by writing clues on their slates on the desks.
For students with stronger academic skills, they could really be challenged with this lesson! There is opportunity for higher level vocabulary ('independent' or 'ferocious'), more inferences that really explain their ideas. By challenging these students to go deeper and make more inferences with higher level vocabulary, you are truly individualizing.