The Golden Lion Tamarin Comes Home: PCR's - I know the answer, but where do I start?

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SWBAT write a PCR (prose constructed response) that describes the relationship between two or more ideas or concepts.

Big Idea

Writing down our thoughts can be intimidating, let's make it easier!

Cue Set

10 minutes

During the cue set today, scholars continue to practice the skill of describing the relationship between multiple people, ideas or concepts.  Today, I show them a picture of my two-year-old nephew, my sister and brother-in-law, and a picture of my parents with myself, my husband and my sister and brother-in-law.  I like to share personal pictures with my scholars because they love learning more about my personal life and it builds a strong sense of community.  Here is a screenshot of cue set photos.  

I ask scholars to take 4 minutes and write a paragraph that describes the possible relationships between the people pictured.  I expect scholars to write things like, "The people in the middle are the baby's parents.  All of the people are family."  It is not important if they get the exact relationship (i.e. Jen is my sister).  What is important is that they are making strong guesses about the POTENTIAL relationships that the people share based on evidence from the photographs.  Since today's focus is on WRITING, I want scholars to warm-up with a paragraph. 

I include a sample opening and closing sentence so that all scholars have to do is copy the opening, create their own body and copy the closing.  

*OPENING: The people are related to each other because........

*CLOSING: That's how the people pictured are related to one another.

This a great scaffold for my ELL scholars.  This also represents a Common Core key shift.  Fifth grade scholars are now expected to include a clear opening and closing in ALL of their writing.  

Here are scholars at work during cue set.  Scholars then have 1 minute to share at tables.  Then, I pull 3 friends from my cup (to keep scholars on their toes) and I accept two volunteers.  This helps scholars to be held accountable for the work and allows students who are really eager the opportunity to share.  

Teaching Strategy

20 minutes

During this section, I explicitly teach them HOW to begin to answer a "describe the relationship between" type-question, in writing.  First, I start by explaining that:

*When I describe the relationships between two or more concepts, ideas or people, I....

1. State the relationship (Answer)

2. Support, using evidence from the text, how I know the people, ideas or concepts are connected (Support)

3. Explain how the evidence PROVES the relationship (Link)

4. Re-state what the relationship is   (Re-state)

Next, I have scholars copy sentence starters into their notebook so that they are never at a loss for how to begin their writing.  I found this is super helpful for scholars who are intimidated by a blank page.  Also, it helps to ensure full development of concepts and ideas within the writing.  Here are scholars taking notes.  For scholars with scribe accommodation, or to save time, you can print out the sentence starters and have students glue them to their notebooks.  Here is a notebook of scholar with scribe accommodation.  Click here for a printable version of Notes for PCR responses with RI3.  

1. [Concept 1] and [Concept 2] relate to one another because... (Answer)

2. This is the relationship they share because in the text, it says... (Support)

3. These quotes prove that.......because..... (Link)

4. That's how [concept 1] and [concept 2] relate to one another.    (Re-state)

I find that the more explicit I am during this part of the lesson, the more successful my scholars are with their writing.  


Guided Practice

30 minutes

During the guided practice today, scholars again work in post-it note groups to create strong PCR responses.  I use post-it note groups to get scholars to interact with new and different friends.  Also, it gives them a chance to get up and move around a bit.  Scholars work together to create 1 PCR response to the following question: 

Describe the relationship between golden lion tamarin's and humans. 

Scholars are responsible for handing in their individual PCR too so even if they are not writing on the chart paper, they still are responsible for their own work.  

As scholars work in small groups, I pull a cohort of ELL scholars and other scholars who need more support with their individual responses (this group is determined from the closure yesterday).  Here is a picture of a Guided Practice group.  

I remind scholars to use the sentence starters if they get stuck.  

Here are two examples of interviews that I had with students today. 


Scholars have 20 minutes to create their PCRs in their groups.  Here is a second guided practice groupThen, at the end of that time, scholars have a gallery walk.  They walk around the room and leave roses (positives) and thorns (areas to improve) for each group.  I remind them that as they walk around the room they READ, THINK, then WRITE.  I model how to leave a strong feedback.  I remind them that saying things like, "nice work!" is not particularly strong feedback.  It must be specific and related to what makes a PCR strong.  


Independent Practice

30 minutes

During this time scholars rotate through 2 stations.  I start the time by reviewing our checklist items for the week and explicitly state what should be completed by the end of the day.  This holds scholars accountable to their work thereby making  them more productive.  Then, the ELL teacher and I share the materials that our groups will need to be successful (i.e. a pencil and your book baggies).  Then, I give scholars 20 seconds to get to the place in the room where they will be for the first rotation.  The first scholars who are there with all materials they need receive additions on their paychecks or positive PAWS.

During the rotations for this lesson, my small group objective today is to determine relationships between two or more concepts, ideas or people in books that are on each group's highest instructional level.  Scholars read a portion of the same book (different for each group depending on reading level, but the same text is read in each group).  Then, we discuss how two or more ideas, concepts or people are related.  We practice using the T-chart to organize our thinking.  We also use our foldables.  The focus today is the reading skill, not the recording.  

After the first rotation, I do a rhythmic clap to get everyone's attention.  Scholars place hands on head and eyes on me so I know they are listening.  Then they point to where they go next.  I give them 20 seconds to get there.  Again, scholars who are at the next station in under 20 seconds with everything they need receive a positive PAW or a paycheck addition.  We practice rotations at the beginning of the year so scholars know if they are back at my table, they walk on the right side of the room, if they are with the ELL teacher, they walk on the left side of the room and if they are at their desks, they walk in the middle of the room.  This way we avoid any collisions.    

At the end of our rotation time I give scholars 20 seconds to get back to their desks and take out materials needed for the closing part of our lesson.  Timing transitions helps to make us more productive and communicates the importance of our learning time.