Today I plan to engage my students in a discussion about fall leaves using freshly fallen leaves from the Northern area of our state. I want my students to use their senses when learning about the leaves. I am a visual and textural learner so I like to offer these learning strategies to my students. The leaves from up north smell so different than the leaves around our neighborhood. The colors are more varied and bright. The leaves around us do turn yellow sometimes. I love to feel how smooth and supple the leaves feel. We will end the lesson by writing what we think about the leaves.
I gather the students on the carpet and tell them that I noticed some of the trees in the neighborhood had green leaves and others had yellow leaves. What is happening? Turn to your partner and see if your partner knows why the leaves change colors. After one minute I call them back to look at me. I call on a few students to see if they or their partner knew why the leaves changed colors. The students give me answers but they have no idea why the leaves turn colors.
I show them a video of the life cycle of a tree:
I like to show videos and pictures and sometimes the real object, like today to help build background knowledge. It is important for my ELL students to have information and vocabulary front loaded so they understand what the lesson is about.
I read the book Colorful Leaves by Maria Fleming.
"Wasn't that video about the leaves fun? I am going to read to you a book called; Colorful Leaves. This book shows trees in the summer time with green leaves and it shows pictures of what happens when it turns cold."
We look at the leaves of different sizes turn colors as the weather gets colder. Then we see the tree bare in the winter time. Leaf buds appear as the weather gets warmer and turn quickly into a full tree of leaves.
" Fall is my favorite time of year. I love it when the weather gets cooler and the leaves change color. I am not sure you know why the leaves turn colors. Can you turn to your partner and tell them why the leaves turn red, orange or yellow? Think about the book. I want to hear you talking to your partner."
I have my students partner with carpet neighbors. Purple row partners with blue row, green row partners with orange row. I walk around and listen to conversation making sure they are all on topic. If they are not, I prompt them to discuss why leaves turn different colors.
"Great, I heard some of you telling your partners that leaves turn colors when it gets cold outside. Great remembering. I brought some leaves I collected when I went up into the mountains over the weekend. I am going to open the bag and I want you to smell them. They smell so wonderful. I will also let you touch how soft and smooth they are."
Each student gets the opportunity to smell the bag of leaves and feel the leaves.
"I would like to brainstorm what you think about the leaves. We will use a circle map. I will use name sticks and choose friends who are sitting down criss cross applesauce, looking at the teacher. From looking at the leaves we can name some adjectives that describe them."
I draw a circle map. And begin calling on students to give me adjectives that describe the leaves.
"Great job, you thought of a lot of adjectives. Now let me show you the sentence frames we are going to use for our opinion paper. The first sentence frame is; I am ______ . You will be letting everyone know who you are. The second sentence frame is; I _________ the leaf. You have to give your opinion. Do you like the leaf or do you not like the leaf. The last sentence frame is; It is _______ . This is where you support your opinion by telling everyone why you like the leaf. I will write the sentence frames on the chart paper."
I am _________.
I ________ the leaf.
It is _______ .
It is so important that I use sentence frames to help me students use proper sentence structure. Sentence frames also reinforces high frequency words and teaches them new vocabulary words. After using sentence frames for a while, my students can write them all by themselves.
"What goes on the first sentence frame? Yes, I will write my name. What goes on the second sentence frame? The words; like or do not like. I will write; like. That is my opinion. What goes on the last sentence frame? An adjective. You can choose from the circle map for the word you want to use. I will write the adjective, big. There is my opinion paper. But it is not finished yet. I am going to do a leaf rubbing on the part of the paper that we usually draw a picture. I am going to put the leaf under the paper and hold the paper really, really still. Then I am going to take a crayon and using the side rub all over the leaf. Wow!! Look how cool that is. When you have done your rubbing we will staple your real leave to your paper and hang it on the bulletin board in the hall."
"As I dismiss you from your squares, walk carefully by me and choose a leaf. This will be the leaf you write about. Orange row, please stand up and come get your leaf. Would my class paper passer please give each seat a piece of story paper?"
I dismiss all my students and walk around the room helping students with their sentences and rubbings. When they are done they sit quietly on the carpet reading library books.
When everyone was finished writing, rubbing and stapling, we cleaned up the books and sat on the carpet ready to read our papers. I invite a row at a time to come up front to read their papers. My ELL students feel more confident and secure reading their papers in front of the class when they are surrounded by their peers. Each student is excited to read their paper. We cheer and applaud after each oral presetation. When all the reading is finished, we line up and go into the hall to hang our writing on the Fall Bulletin Board