What Grows On Farms?

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SWBAT ask and answer questions about key details in an informational text.

Big Idea

Students will learn where the crops they see and use on a daily basis comes from. We are building background knowledge that will help them gain a deeper understanding of the setting in Charlotte's Web (our companion unit), too!


10 minutes

Lesson Context and Overview

The goal of the CCSS is to prepare students to have success in college and their careers. One way that I am preparing students for this is by building their content knowledge. Students need strong content knowledge about different topics in order to engage deeply in texts that they read and critical thinking that they must do. The background we build in this lesson/unit will also serve to complement our Charlotte's web unit, which you can find in my curriculum as well.

Today, we are tackling the topic of farms in different ways. We will start by watching a short video on farms and vegetables. Then, the students will be reading a section of the informational text called, "California Grows." The reason I am having the students read this particular text is so that we are integrating their social studies curriculum. Our social studies curriculum teaches students about our state (California), but you can use any informational text that has to do with the agriculture of your state to get kids engaged and excited.

Students will have the opportunity to write about they learn and share it with their peers.

Lesson Opening 

On the rug, I start by sharing the student friendly objective, "I can ask and answer questions about farms." I will transcribe their answers on a circle map. Students will have an opportunity to share with each other before they share with the whole class. Right afterwards, I ask them what questions they have about farms. I will record about 10 questions. Once they are written, I ask the students to look at their questions and to evaluate them. The way I ask them to evaluate the questions is by asking, "Are there any questions that can be combined?" I ask them this because I want them to pay attention to the type of questions they are asking and to make sure they are not repeating questions. I am asking them to be thoughtful about the types of questions they ask.

Writing Questions in Their Journals

7 minutes

Now that students have had an opportunity to evaluate their questions, they will get a chance to write 2 or 3 questions in their journals. I have them do this because I want them to become aware of the questions they want to know more about. Also, during English Language Development (E.L.D) time, I am having them answer one of the questions to help build their academic vocabulary. This is another way I am building content knowledge.

Here are samples of the questions that were added in their journals:

Video Farm to Market: Vegetables

20 minutes

Next, I have the students watch a video on how vegetables grow and how they get from the farm to the markets.

I have created text dependent questions about the video from Farm to Market, and, before we begin watching, I read the questions with them to get them ready to learn. I scaffold the question-answering process by pausing the video as needed to allow students to hone in on the key details and give them time to record their thoughts.

Prior to this lesson, I taught my students how to take notes, but I do review the note taking process before starting the video. I remind that note taking is about writing words and/or phrases but not complete sentences. Also, we are looking for the key details in answering the questions. Because I reinforce reading during this process, I have my students read the question again before answering it.

While the video is about 2 minutes long, it takes us 15-20 minutes to get through it because that is how long it takes to answer the questions with the pausing in between.

Here are examples of their note-taking:

Here is the video:

Reading California Grows

20 minutes

The next source of information that the students will be gathering information from is a piece from their anthology called, California Grows!. There are two pages the students will read, and here is the second page. I have created another set of text dependent questions on california grows for my students to answer independently. These text dependent questions ask the students to go back into the text to locate the information needed to answer the question. Therefore, students must read closely. With these questions I am building background knowledge on what crops grow on the land, the products that are most valuable to California, and I am asking the students to pay attention to the text features to glean meaning as well.

As most of the students work at their tables, I will work with a small group of students on the rug. Some students who am I working with need me to be close to them so that they can be focused. A couple of them need reading support. What students do not finish during the allotted time, they will take for homework. From where I sit, I can monitor the students at the table who are reading independently to answer the questions.

Independent Writing

15 minutes

Now students will review the information they gathered and will write about they learned. They can either write about the video or about their article in their anthology, "California Grows." If they choose to, they can combine the information from both sources.

As they write, I walk around and monitor their work, providing assistance when needed.

Students are expected to write a paragraph, to use transition words, and use evidence from the source(s) they are writing about. My students learned to write informational paragraphs in a previous writing unit, but this is a great time to practice the the skill again and synthesize their content knowledge as they write about it.

Here are some of their examples:

Whole Group Sharing

7 minutes

Students now get the opportunity to share their writing with their peers. I am very intentional about whom I pick to share. As students wrote in the previous section, I made mental notes about who was meeting the task in a way that would further the whole group's learning. During that writing time, I asked them if they are willing to share. Most say yes. In asking, I am giving them the opportunity to take ownership of this particular experience.

Sharing with others helps validate their learning experience. Sharing with others also helps to build their voice, thus their confidence, and helps to build their listening skills. All this matters as they move along in life.

Here are the speakers for today:

After the speakers share, they receive feedback. This is the system I use that makes it safe and fun:

  • Two Stars: Two different students share what they specifically like about the content of the writing.
  • A Wish: Another student shares specifically how they think the writing can be improved.