Content and Lesson Overview
This week, I build content knowledge on farms to enhance my urban students' understanding of the setting in Charlotte's Web, which is a read aloud unit we have been working on as a companion to our regular ELA time (see my curriculum for that unit's lessons). Today, I use two sources to meet this goal: a video and an informational text, California Gardens. I continue to integrate social studies in this lesson, which helps establish connections across the curriculum for my students. This piece on gardens is found in one of their anthologies, but you can use any informational text that you can get or make copies of for your whole class.
Part of my teaching includes teaching rituals and routines. Therefore, I begin by brainstorming about flowers and proceed to ask questions about flowers, which is how we start many lessons that have to do with building content knowledge through reading informational texts.
Afterwards, I proceed to show the video on flowers with text dependent questions. Next, I have students read independently and then write about they have learned.
Last, students get to share what they learned about flowers.
On the rug, I share the student friendly objective, "I can ask and answer questions about a text about flowers." I ask students, "What do you know about flowers?" I write their responses on a CircleMap. Then, I ask them, "What questions do you have about flowers?" I make a list of Questions on a chart paper. Once we are done with the questions, I ask them to evaluate the type of questions they have asked by posing, "Are there any questions we can combine?" It forces students to read the questions with the purpose of finding questions that repeat themselves. If there are any questions that do repeat, I ask, "How we can combine them?"
Now students take a few minutes to write two questions in their journal. Students choose the questions from the list we created.
These questions will be answered during a different part of the day. It is my way of keeping the academic discourse flowing throughout the day about the topic the students are learning. Also, my students get to practice writing question sentences. It is another skill second graders need to master. Here are some of the questions they chose to write in their journals:
Now students will spend time watching a short video on flowers. As they watch they will take notes using a list of text dependent questions that I have created: Farm to Market Flowers. These questions will help them pay attention to and internalize the details of the content of the video. Before we start the video, I ask them to read the questions. Reading them ahead of time helps them to become focused and attentive in taking notes that answer the questions.
The video is about 3 minutes long but this task takes about 15-20 minutes because I pause to give the students time to write their responses. Here are some note-taking samples:
After we finish watching the video, I ask my students to share their key words. This is an informal way for me to assess if they are making relevant connections to the content they are watching.
Farm to Market: Flowers
Next, I have the students read the two informational text pages:
In reading about "California Gardens," I am integrating social studies. This text can be replaced with an informational text that pertains to your state social studies curriculum. As students read this informational text, they are again answering text dependent questions on the template California Gardens independently.
What students do not finish during the allotted time, they will take it for homework. Here are some samples of their note-taking:
As most students work at their tables, I work with a small group of students on the carpet because they need extra support at this point of the year. Two of these students need support with decoding, and the others need me close by to maintain focus. In addition, these students need guidance in how to locate the answers on the page. I help them by informing that the questions have key words that can be found on the page. These words are their clues.
In answering text dependent questions, students often need to reread because the questions ask for specific information. Some students due to their lack of stamina may find it challenging and boring. That is why continued practice such as this is very important for my students.
To help students build the connection between reading and writing, I give my students time to reflect in writing what they have learned about flowers and gardens in California.
Students are writing a paragraph that includes time order words and at least 5-6 sentences. This is a structure I have taught students to use in their writing previously, so many of them are able to do this independently after being taught the necessary content background. For today, I am looking for them to integrate the vocabulary and details that they have learned about flowers and gardens in their writing.
As they write, I offer assistance to those who needed it and I am making mental notes about those students who are accomplishing the task, so that they can share their paragraph to the group. Here are some samples of their work:
This is the third lesson in which the students are learning about a particular crop that is raised on a farm. Today, the students wrote about what they learned about flowers. I see them getting very good at learning time order words, first, next, then, after, and finally. This is good news because the way I used to teach using time order works took them too long because of the lack of time to practice based on the guidelines of the curriculum we had to follow. Because the CCSS asks students to write every day and through out the day, my students are getting so much more practice and learning this skill much faster.
I like the academic vocabulary that is appearing in their writing and the manner in which they are integrating it.
I noticed that when my students write, they are going back and rereading their notes. This is improving their writing a lot. I have been surprised as to how much I have needed to remind students that they can use their notes to write. For some this still seems like a foreign concept and somehow think they need to write from memory.
I can see the conceptual understanding of different topics expand through the integration of informational text at this grade level. For example, flowers are not just pretty things anymore. In fact, now my students know, that we wear flowers. This was certainly an interesting discovery for my students.
I am happy to see my students gaining a broader knowledge of flowers. While they know that flowers and vegetables need much water to grow, they now know flowers are raised on farms and there are many uses for flowers. My students are growing in understanding the concept of raising. They have seen that not only are fruit and vegetables raised on farms, but now they know nuts are raised on farms, flowers are raised on farms, as well as animals.
Repetition of the same concept with different topics are exactly what my students who are English Language Learners need and that is why they are producing very good drafts.
Now students get to share their work with the group. Those in the audience are listening to give feedback to the speakers. The feedback includes giving two stars and a wish.
It is important to keep the wish to one student and one specific way in which the piece can improve, otherwise it can become an unpleasant experience and the learning may get lost in the critiques.
Here are the speakers for today: