Thursday, May 17, 2012

Flagging Our Thoughts, Problem/Solution Text Structure, Figurative Language, & Crayfish!

One of the books I used recently for a literature discussion group was Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine. You can see I placed a 'common focus post-it' on the inside back cover so students would constantly 'have it in their face' as to what they were to be thinking deeply about and flagging. This student also flagged symbolism she noted while reading. When I previewed the book with this group, I told them to see if they could figure out the symbolism behind the birds, humming, the crate, and the leaves that appear throughout the text.

Students also know that after they've finished reading the assigned text, they are to write a response that addressed the 'common focus flag' and any other thoughts they flagged. Here you can see this student responded in her first paragraph to the important historical figures she connected to while reading the book. Her second paragraph captures in writing the symbolism she noted in the text. 

 My literacy coach, Candice Johnson, came two days last week to do back-to-back mini-lessons on problem/solution text structure. She modeled using a text about frogs. (Note: Books about animals are excellent mentor texts to use for problem/solution because they will almost always have a problem and solution section near the end of the text or article.) She recorded the problems frogs face and solutions discussed in the text for helping to save and protect frogs.

For guided practice, she handed out a double-side sheet. On one side of the sheet, Mrs. Johnson had copied a page out of a book about lions that told about the problems lions face. On the back side was a section about the solutions to lions' problems. 
Students recorded lions' problems and solutions on their own chart that had been glued into their Thoughtful Logs prior to the lesson.

Students shared out what they had learned, and Mrs. Johnson added their thinking to her animal problems and solutions anchor chart.

Here's a close-up of the chart we created that day:

For independent practice, students got their own animal reader and recorded problems and solutions for their animal.
The next day, Mrs. Johnson helped us identify problem and solution signal words. These are words that frequently signal the kind of information we are reading about to deepen our understanding. Using a photocopied version of the frog pages she modeled with the day before for identifying actual problems and solutions, Mrs. Johnson highlighted problem and solution signal words and recorded them on a T-chart.
 Students recorded these signal words in their Thoughtful Logs.
Then they broke up into small groups to find problem and solution signal words in their own texts about one specific animal. This group looked through the book about wolves.
 This group recorded problem and solution signal words found in a book about sea turtles.

We gathered together as a class for students to share out the additional problem and solution words they had found while reading their books.

 Here's the final list of the problem and solution signal words our class found. Kids now know that many words can signal that you are reading about a problem or a solution. It may not be specifically stated in the text!

In reading we've also continued discussing figurative language. One lesson focused specifically on personification. We used the book Sierra by Diane Seibert as our mentor text. In her book, she personifies a mountain by giving it human traits like the ability to breathe, feel, and and whisper.

Another form of figurative language is onomatopoeia. We used Rattletrap Car by Phillis Root as our mentor text. We recorded examples of onomatopoeia from the text. During independent reading, students looked for examples in their own texts. We added students' discoveries to our chart! 
We also 'read' Sector 7 by David Wiesner. It is a wordless picture book. Students recorded onomatopoeia words to go along with the action on each page. By the time we were done, they had a word bank of onomatopoeia words! To apply their new learning, I told students to write one paragraph using four onomatopoeia words about a character going to either a cave or a haunted house. Here are two writing samples!

*Scritch, scratch. Crrrk, crrrk, crrrk.* What's that NOISE? Onomatopoeia words? YES! But really, did you know we have crayfish?! Students are observing and learning about these creepy, crawly creatures in science!