Context and Overview
Today, we continue to move forward with the next chapter of Charlotte's Web, "An Explosion." Before reading the chapter, I am asking them to make predictions. I will give them time after the reading, to confirm the predictions.
In reading the chapter, I will ask text dependent questions about the characters and the plot. To answer these questions my students need to go back into the text. A shift with the CCSS is about valuing evidence. This is one way I help my students practice the skill.
After that, I will engage my students in looking for evidence that supports a trait about the character they chose yesterday. They will get to share their findings.
I will model how I want them to write a paragraph about their character with Fern's character. Students then will write their own paragraph.
On the rug, I will share the objective with them, and then we will review character traits. Review is critical with my students. It helps them to connect old knowledge with new knowledge and helps them to be focused about what we are going to be working on.
At their seats, I ask students to make predictions about what they think the explosion will be about. Making predictions is a fun hook for my students. I don't think it is a good idea to use it all the time, but this chapter merits it. When they make predictions, I provide a chart to help them write their prediction. I ask them to keep their prediction to one sentence.
I walk around as they write their predictions. It keeps them focused. Also, I do take the time to ask a few to share with the class.
I believe this helps them to be accountable. And, the other students get to hear the different predictions that are being made. Here are more examples of their predictions:
Now it is time to read the chapter. Because I had the students make predictions, they are all very excited about reading the chapter to find out what explodes. I will ask text dependent questions that ask explicitly what the text states. This a long chapter and I do not want the students to get consumed by answering questions, so I am intentional about how many questions I ask.
The questions I ask have to do with the development of the plot and the characters:
1. What is Charlotte's plan to save Wilbur?
2. What are Fern and Avery up to?
3. What does Avery do with the frog? (I ask this question because I want them to understand why Avery tries to catch Charlotte later on.)
5. What saves Charlotte from being part of Avery's collection?
6. Why are the animals complaining?
7. How is Templeton important in this chapter?
It delights very much when my students notice features about the text that capture their interest. It livens up the discussion.
Now that we have finished reading the chapter, I give my students a few minutes to confirm their predictions. I ask them to write one sentence about what happened underneath their prediction sentence.
Since we have sitting for a while and engaged in rigorous thinking, we need a break. A brain break is a two minute period in which I get the students out of their chairs for some deep breathing and arm and leg movement.
It helps as a transition time too.
I gather students at their tables and explain how they are going to choose a trait for their character. They will need to reread in order to find evidence for this trait. I have given them a template for them to gather their evidence: Character Trait.
As they work on gathering evidence of their trait, I will walk and give them support. Some will need support/direction as to where they can find evidence. I will guide them to specific pages but they will need to read and find the evidence on their own.
Others will need support to stay on task because they may become distracted and walking around usually solves this issue. I like to hear from students about they are their work. I am happy I have students who are very willing to share about the trait they have chosen. Their oral contributions help the other students who may be struggling.
Here are some examples of their work:
Now I use Fern's character to model writing about one of her traits. I am using the chart to show how I am using the evidence I gathered to write my paragraph. The trait I am highlighting about Fern is that she is very caring.
I use the chart to let them that I am going to concentrate on her actions because it is those actions that let us know how much she cares.
In writing the first sentence, I let them know that I want them to write an elaborated sentence, so I use evidence about how she looks: Fern is an eight-year old girl who lives on a farm and is very caring towards the animals.
Then, I proceed to give examples of how caring she is as I write the rest of the paragraph.
Lastly, I model how to write the closing sentence as well. I let them know to close a paragraph the last sentence can restate what was said at the beginning.
I walk around and make sure all my students have started their task, and that they starting appropriately. Some of them will need me to repeat how I want the first sentence to be written. I will ask them to say the sentence out loud and then proceed to write it. In listening to their sentence, I can give them tips on how to make it more elaborate if needed.
In writing the first sentence, they will need to think back about the physical characteristic of their animal. I am curious as to how they will do with this task.
Others will need help to manage the template and their writing paper. I will help them with that. Others will need to be reminded to indent.
Here are examples of their work:
Giving my students the opportunity to share with their peers is vital in helping them practice the academic language they are learning, as well as practice their listening and speaking skills. In sharing, my students build their self-esteem.
I have a simple but a powerful method by which the speakers get feedback. I have taught my students how to share by sharing two stars and a wish:
I find that in having the students be specific with the feedback, it helps the speaker not take the feedback personal.