Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.
In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.
Once everyone is on the rug I ask the students “Raise your hand if you can tell me something about firefighters?”
I use the Fair Sticks to help me select three random students to respond to the question.
“Yes Robert firefighters do put out fires. How do they do that?”
“You are right John I have seen firefighters at car crashes too. Why are they there if there is not a fire?”
I only take two or three students at this time because I want to be able to move onto the book and not lose my audience.
“Those were great facts about things firefighters do. Do not worry if I did not get to hear what you know about firefighters now because you will have a chance to tell me at integrated work time.”
I use this line of questioning to activate the students thinking and find out what my students know (prior knowledge). Through this conversation the students will begin to think about what they know about firefighters and this will help them later on in the lesson when they need to write about why they would be a firefighter.
“This story is called A Day at the Fire Station, by Megan Faulkner and the photographs are by Michael Scott. We know Megan Faulkner is the author of the book because she wrote the words but what I think is interesting is that this book has photos instead of drawn illustrations. Why do you think the author chose to use photos?”
I use the fair sticks and I only take two or three responses.
“I agree. I think your idea about the photos making the book more real is a good one Megan.”
“I think the author wanted us to feel like we were right there with the children visiting the fire station.”
“Let’s go ahead and read and see what information we can find out.”
During reading we discuss vocabulary words that we come across. Words like, dormitory, guide, dispatcher, thermal-imaging, etc. Discussing the vocabulary words in context helps students comprehend the text.
We discuss what it means to be “parked in the bay.” This question is particularly relevant to us because most people here in St. Mary’s County associate the word “bay” with the Chesapeake Bay. So I really need to clarify for the students that the fire engines are not parked in our bay. We discuss how words can have two meanings. Bay as in a big roomy area and as a body of water. This comes up again later with the word spring – it can be a noun when naming a season, a noun when naming a spring coil and it can be an action verb.
Once the story is over I ask, “So if you were a firefighter, what would be one thing you would do?”
I use the fair sticks to help me select three random students to respond to the question.
“It is okay if you did not get to tell me about what you would do if you were a firefighter because you are going to write about it at one of the integrated work stations today. I will listen to each person at the work station and I will help you with the words you need or direct you to the resources you need. While you are waiting for me you can either try writing the words yourself or be working on drawing your picture clue for the reader.”
Once I feel the students understand the concept of what is being asked of them I prepare to send them over to the work station tables where they will find pencils, crayons and the writing prompt paper. “At the work station you will find the If I were a firefighter I would... writing prompt. What is the first thing you will do?” Hopefully someone will remember the first thing they need to do is write their name at the top of the paper. “You do not need to write the date because we have the date stamp. Use it to date your work.”
Now I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;
“Table number one go have some firefighter writing fun.
Table number two, you know what to do.
Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and
Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”
Give the students about 15 minutes to get this assignment done. Remind the students they can look at the visual timer to check how much time they have left.
Why write to inform?
Students need to learn how to write to inform so they can share ideas and information with others. They need to be able to clarify their thinking so others can understand the thoughts they are expressing. This becomes important later on during their academic experiences such as when they write papers for college.
When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”
I remind students to put their completed work in the “completed work” bin and those that are not complete go into the “under construction” bin.
Student sample 1 - high performing student but still needs to work on spacing (grammatical errors)
Student sample 2 - lower performing student. Dictated words and then trace over the highlighted words. Still able to verbalize ideas.
Once everyone is seated on their spot I tell the students we are going to watch a short video about being a firefighter.
When the clip is over I tell the students their exit ticket to get their snack will be to tell me one thing a fire fighter does. I point to each child on the rug and they tell me one thing. I simply go along the rows of the students sitting on the rug. I will start in different locations every time so the same students do not get to go first.
This exit ticket process helps to close out the lesson by allowing the students to make a final connection to express their ideas on what firefighters do.
For this assignment I would simply place a copy of the student’s work along with the Firefighter Prompt Checklist in his/her portfolio to illustrate whether the student was able to meet the objective or not.
The checklist helps me to stay focused on the student's work and remember the objectives I set for the assignment. Was the student able to express his/her idea as a clear thought and then transfer the thought to paper? Did the student illustrate his/her work with an appropriate picture which supported the written work.
The checklist helps the student see which skills he/she needs to improve upon. The checklist also allows the parents to see how well their child is doing or areas where extra assistance is needed.
The students will get a homework packet that requires the whole family to work together as a team. The packet will ask the family to role play making a 911 call, make a map of the house and show two ways out, and to count the number of smoke detectors they have.
Have the students use a head shot photo of themselves to make a firefighter. Makes for a great bulletin board.
Students also had a measuring activity using cubes to measure pictures of firefighter equipment.