Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time. This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.
It is important to find those moments in each unit when students can practice for standardized tests. Regardless of how we feel about them, students take them and we need to give the practice so they grow accustomed to taking them. Today's lesson was designed with that in mind.
Students continue to use their iPads and laptops for this unit and today they read an article and answer questions based on the article. The article is titled Helium Not So Super After All. The students download the article directly from my web-site. Students read the article independently and answer questions based on the article on their own. The questions they answer are directly attached to the article as well. Since standardized tests are moving in the direction of technology, I try and keep that in mind as I design these types of activities. These questions focus on using the text as a way to answer questions about the writing of the piece. They look for main ideas, supporting details, word choice and also analyze the graphic and caption. I anticipate students struggling with the questions asking them to choose the best sentence. They are used to having one correct answer and this question does not give them a correct answer. This question asks them to move beyond that and defend their claim, which is a skill they are slowly learning.
These questions have students think about the writing of a science-based article. They move beyond content and start working with the objectives listed in the Common Core for informative text writing. These objectives relate to organization, word choice, details, and supporting a claim. Part of the directions have students highlight where they found their answers. I discuss this in this video about the helium article. This is done so students can learn and focus on using textual evidence. Students practice referring back to the text to support their answers.