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:
Bring students to a common learning point:
Introduce the lesson:
Commonly students may focus only on the characters or events in the story and identify the plot, instead of the theme. They have difficulty discerning the big idea lesson, but the Common Core Standards encourage students to not only recount a story, but identify the central message or lesson. (RL.2.2) While these students might comprehend the text, retelling the events does not show higher order thinking. Teaching students to distinguish between the plot of the story and the big idea connections will help them to more accurately express their understanding of story themes and lead to success Standards in the upper grades which require not only understanding but the ability to reference text as evidence.
The Common Core State Standards stress the skill of determining theme early on. Practicing this is 2nd grade with full support will allow them to see examples of how teachers 'think out loud' to determine a theme. This book has a great theme, but is a bit above 2nd grade reading level. I chose to read it out loud so students could get the practice they need with this great text.
Looking forward to the CC standards, by 5th Grade, students should be able to explain how the themes in classic stories, such as Charlotte's Web (friendship) or Pipi Longstocking (fun) are emphasized. They read the text and cite examples from the text to explain the theme.
Explain the task:
Explain the project:
Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.
For special education students, the lesson should be straightforward because they don't have to read and the teacher models most of the ideas. When determining the theme and justifying their reasoning, I used a white board at their desk to brainstorm with them. This is a video of how I prompted a student.
For students with great academic abilities, I would encourage good text evidence and higher level reasoning. Don't just take 3-4 word justifications (such as the elephant looks different) but challenge them to use higher level vocabulary, such as 'individual, 'unique', etc.