Monday, December 1, 2008

More of my assignments

Plan for Scaffolding Instruction
Strategy Focus: Activating Background Knowledge and Making Connections
Grade 2

Book #1: Teacher Modeling (I do, you watch…and listen)
Title: KITTEN’S FIRST FULL MOON
Author: Kevin Henkes

Brief Description of Text
Kitten mistakes full moon and its reflection for bowls of milk everywhere, and it gets her into quite a bit of mess. No matter what she does, she can’t seem to catch the full moon and lap up the milk that she wants so badly. Finally, she sees the reflection of the full moon in the pond and mistakes it for a bigger bowl of milk. She dives in, expecting milk, and ends up sopping wet, cold, hungry, and quite miserable. When she does make it home, there is an actual bowl of milk waiting for her on the porch. She realizes how lucky she is to have such a loving home.

Teaching Context
I would begin by explaining that characters in books share many of the traits that characters (people) have in real life. I would ask if anyone had a kitten or cat at home and if they could share their experiences. Gathering information like this would allow me to quickly assess what the students already know and where to guide them with my modeling. I would briefly discuss my experiences with kittens and explain that kittens, like people, use what they know to help them form an opinion of what they don’t know. I would explain that the kitten in the story does this, and read the story before giving away too much of what happened. The first reading would be just a reading to enjoy the story. Then I would read the story again. Throughout the second reading, I would stop to give an example of a time when I thought something was different than what it actually was. I would give several examples. For example, I used to think that fairies existed behind cars that would help push them along. I would think aloud and explain how my thinking over the years was corrected when I learned about gasoline and how cars actually move. I would continue with these examples as I read the story. I would give an example about people in the desert thinking they come to water but what they actually saw was a mirage and talk about the consequences of their actions. With each page on the second reading, I would encourage children to share their thinking about a time when they mistook an object for another object and what the consequences of their mistake was and how it turned out. With each example that I model, I would explain that I just made a connection to my own life. With each example from a student, I would explain that he or she just used what he knew (activated background knowledge) to make a connection about to the book.

Rationale for Choosing the Text
Everyone makes mistakes based on what they know; the kitten is the perfect example of this. It’s perfect for modeling making connections because I can think aloud the many misinterpretations I have made over the years and encourage students to also think of a time when they have thought something was different from what it actually is. This simple text structure also allows me to focus on the content and meaning of the story rather than teaching the story itself and frees a lot of my time to teaching the strategy of activating background knowledge and making connections. I also want to incorporate more author studies into my teaching, and wanted to focus this entire plan on books by Kevin Henkes. If I see that students are applying the strategy, I can also talk about differences and similarities in the books by the same author.

Book #2: Teacher Modeling (I do, you watch….and listen)
Title: Wemberly Worried
Author: Kevin Henkes

Brief Description of Text
Wemberly worries about everything! From the cracks in the wall to the slide on the playground to her friends at her birthday party, there is not a thing that she doesn’t worry about. One could argue that the girl will probably end up with an ulcer at the age of 40 if this continues. Finally, the first day of school comes and she’s beyond worried about that. She worries that someone will make fun of her for carrying a doll more than anything else. Finally, the first day of school arrives, and she sees that school is not so bad, and even makes a friend that also carries a doll as a comfort item. She realizes that school is not so bad and the worrying is needless. She is definitely coming back to school the next day.

Teaching Context
With the last book, I modeled orally, and invited oral responses. This time, I will continue to model, but write down what I am modeling and the connection I am making in three-column graphic organizer the second time I read it. The first time I read it aloud I’d simply ask with each page if anyone has a similar worry. I’d still think aloud my worries and state that I am making a connection with the main character. The second time I read it, I would explain that I am going to organize my thinking in a chart. The chart will have three columns labeled “Wemberly’s Worries,” “Our Worries,” and “Other Worries.” As I come up with my own worries, I will model coding them T-S (and explain that I made a text to self connection), and write them down. For example, Wemberly worries that the slide is too high, and I will give an example and write it down that I remember being worried when crossing the Hennepin Ave. Bridge that it is also to high and I don’t like heights. Another example would be Wemberly rubs her bunny’s ears when she is worried, and I also have a bad habit of biting my nails when I worry. I would continue to write these down on the chart and invite other connections as well. Other worries would be worries from other people not in the class. For example, I might say, “I bet out principal worries about the school a lot and if everyone is getting along and learning what they need to learn and everyone is safe.” I’d write this down and code it a text to world connection. I’d also try to find other books that have characters that worry in them. For example, “I bet Ramona Quimby worried a lot about her first day of kindergarten in our read aloud book this month.” I would write that book down and code a T-T and explain what it means. I realize too that modeling is just that, and not sharing, but part of my modeling I want to see how well students do and if I have to model some more. I realize that I might have to give more examples and I will be prepared to do that if I hear examples from students that don’t really qualify to be connections.

Rationale for Choosing the Text
As someone that struggles from some pretty severe anxiety myself, I can definitely relate and found this as a perfect opportunity to model some text-to-self connections with Wemberly. The text is simple, and easy to understand, leaving the strategy of making connections and activating background knowledge rather than teaching the story the focus of this mini-lesson. I also wanted to keep with my Kevin Henkes author study theme and this was a good Henkes book applicable to modeling the strategy of making connections. I figure all students have some worries that will surface as I read, which leads into a great transition to the next part of the making connections unit, the shared responsibility and demonstration part.

Book #3: Shared Demonstration (I do, You Help)

Title: Owen
Author: Kevin Henkes

Brief Description of Text
Owen brings his blanket wherever he goes. He’s like Linus from Peanuts. (See, I made a Text-to-Text connection without even thinking about it!) Owen’s parents, with pressure from the nosey neighbor Mrs. Tweezers, decide that they want to wean Owen off the blanket using every strategy possible, but to no avail. Owen just protests. Owen cries. Finally, they come up with a solution that all (even Mrs. Tweezers) can live with, and all is right with the world again.

Teaching Context
I would begin by reminding students that we are still working on making connections with a text we are reading, and remind them of the importance of making connections. They make reading more interesting, we are more likely to understand what we are reading when we can put ourselves in the position of the characters, and we are more engaged in what we are reading. I would explain that the character in this story has a problem, and suggest that I’ve had similar problems and many students can probably relate to Owen’s problem. I would then introduce the task. “Your job,” I would say, “is to think of a time when you felt like Owen did when they wanted to take his blanket away.” I would pass out large post-it notes and have the students take out their pencils. When reading, I would still continue to model and think aloud at times when it is appropriate to do so. I would invite students to share and write down their thinking, asking questions such as, “What choice would you have made if you were Owen?” or “How else might you have solved that problem?” Other questions students could think about are “Are there items that you feel similarly about in your own life?” I’d pause for moments after a few pages at a time and invite students to write down thinking. After reading the story, I’d invite students one by one to share what they wrote and we’d discuss the connection made. We’d put all the post-it notes on a diagram similar to the one in the last lesson, with three columns labeled “Owen’s Problem,” “Our Problems,” and “Our Connections.” I’d think aloud as to why I was putting each note in each column. Closing the lesson, I’d remind students that each of them made excellent connections to the reading and that it is important to make such connections and think about what they know every time they read a piece of text.

Rationale for Choosing Text
Again, Kevin Henkes books have so much content in them that children can connect with naturally, and I wanted something that would do just that. Every child has an item or two that they have a hard time parting with, and I wanted a book that would bring this out for my first shared lesson. Plus, this is the first book in this set with a male main character and I always make a conscious effort not to read aloud too many books with a male or female main character when I do read alouds with children. I’ve never done this series of lessons with children, but I will look forward to putting my creations to use soon.

Book #4: Shared Demonstration (I do, You Help)

Title: Chrysanthemum
Author: Kevin Henkes

Brief Description of Text
Chrysanthemum loves her name, until she goes to school that is. Everyone teases her because it’s too long, and it’s a flower. She feels awful. Everyone in her class is named after their grandmother or has a “normal” name. Then she meets her music teacher that is also named after a flower and her class is jealous of her. Chrysanthemum learns to appreciate her name and love it again, just like she did before she started school. Her music teacher has a baby girl and names it Chrysanthemum after her favorite student.

Teaching Context
I would again review that we are learning to make connections and activate background knowledge while we read. I would have students think of a time when they felt left out and what made them feel that way. They would think-pair-share it with their neighbor. We would begin reading, and I would continue to model at appropriate times when I connected with the character and why. I would also ask students to share their connections and questions such as “Who had a connection with a name?” or “When you shared with your neighbor, how many of you shared a time when you felt your name was not important or silly?” For students who don’t have connections, I would ask questions such as, “How would you feel if you were in Chrysanthemum’s place?” at given points in the story. I would again use the think-pair-share or turn and talk when appropriate. I would continue to model, using phrases like, “I remember when my first grade teacher said something to me to make feel good,” and “I felt just like Chrysanthemum when I started a new school.”

Rationale for Choosing Text
Again, everyone has a time in their life when they felt out of place and not comfortable with something about them. I thought that in keeping with my Kevin Henkes author study theme, this was definitely a text where there were plenty of opportunities for students to make connections with the characters and share those connections with their classmates would arise. As a side note, Kevin Henkes also lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and there is a place in this book where there is a pull down map of Wisconsin, so kids could make a connection to the Midwest, since we live in Minnesota.

Book #5: Guided Practice (You do, I help)

Title: OH!
Author: Kevin Henkes

Brief Description of Text
Snow falls and brings the squirrel, the rabbit, the cat, the dog, and the children out during what seems to be the first snow. Everything is white and everyone wants to play. Finally, the sun is shining and a snowman is built. Night falls and playtime is over for everyone. Everyone rushes home and promises of fun tomorrow abound. Oh! Refers to the exclamation of joy everyone seems to have on the first snow of the season.

Teaching Context
Small group guided reading, where everyone has a copy of the book or there are at least one copy per two students, I intent to introduce the book as a book by the same author as the one we’ve previously been reading and remind students we are looking for connections with text and we will do that by thinking about what we know about snow. The students will read this text by themselves in pairs once. On the second reading, students will discuss the following prompt: “This story reminds me of…”. Students will share with their partner and then with their whole group, one at a time. I will correct thinking and model more if appropriate. Students will then write in their journals according to the prompt, “The snow reminds me of…” If students need more of a cue to visualize their last snow experience, I will ask questions such as “What do you do when you play in the snow?” Or “how do you react when you see snow fall for the first time in the winter?” I will remind students that when they answer this, they are making a connection with their reading. I will collect journals and monitor progress and adjust with the next lesson the way I see fit.

Rationale for Choosing Text
I wanted something simple enough for second graders to read by themselves on the first guided practice session of this unit. The text is simple in OH! And in keeping with my theme of Kevin Henkes and local work, I figured that snow (being that I’m teaching in Minnesota) is something that every student has a connection with and can share that connection with and can apply their own background knowledge to sharing their connection with the rest of their small group.

Book #6: Guided Practice (You do, I help)

Title: Lilly’s Big Day
Author: Kevin Henkes

Brief Description of Text
Lilly longs to be a flower girl in her teacher’s wedding, but there is one problem: her teacher’s niece is already promised to be the flower girl. Lilly practices and practices and gets her hopes up until she is disappointed. When she attends the wedding her teacher promises to let her be the flower girl’s helper. Good thing too, the flower girl gets scared and forgets what to do on the big day. Lilly to the rescue! She ends up carrying flower girl Ginger up the aisle shows her what to do and gets to stand right next to her teacher on his big day. Everyone lives happily ever after and Lilly gets to dance at the reception and make friends with the girl she initially thought was going to be her competition and worst enemy.

Teaching Context
I hope to do this in small groups and I’m hoping that not much reminding will have to be done about connections. The task: Students will be given the book (assuming I have one for each student) three large post it notes and be instructed to write down three times at which they made a connection to Lilly or another character in the story. Students will do this independently, with some prompting if needed. I will begin by asking if students have ever had a big day of their own. They will turn and talk to their neighbor to share their experiences. I don’t anticipate having to do a whole lot of modeling, but can certainly do so if needed and appropriate for the situation. I’m a little worried about the level of this text and if it can be read independently, but I can always circulate and help with hard words and comprehension. Students will share what they have written and we will display our connections and background knowledge on a chart for the whole class and other classes to see. I will continue to refer to this unit as I teach other strategies throughout the school year.

Rationale for Choosing Text
Again, everyone has had a time in their life where they have really looked forward to something and were disappointed by how it turned out. We look at these as learning opportunities in childhood as well as adulthood. I think that this is an excellent book to test how much students have learned about how to make connections to a particular text, plus, I love how relatable Lilly is as a main character. As I said, I wish I could find a simpler text for guided practice, but the skill focus will be the making of the connections, not the actual reading, so if all else fails I can also read this aloud and have the connections made in writing or orally. Also, I wanted to conclude my Kevin Henkes author study with this gem of a story. I’m glad I got to explore this author that I haven’t really had much experience with this far. This is definitely something I will use with students throughout my career.

Reflection
This activity definitely made it clearer to me how to break down each strategy and choose text for my teaching. I still struggle with how to isolate a strategy, but I feel like this assignment was good practice with that. I would welcome feedback on this and suggestions about what to do or not to do all at once. I also feel that best laid plans also go astray, and would be eager to try these strategies out with students to see what they say. I can only imagine the connections that students make to these books, and I feel that the first book I choose for the modeling portion should also be used for the guided practice because it’s simpler text and students in second grade can read this on their own easier than they could read Lilly’s Big Day. Before this assignment, I had a very abstract view about how to teach reading, and this made it slightly more concrete. Like anything, I feel that I will need much more practice with this but that is what life and teaching is all about, I suppose. This was also my first experience with grouping books by author, and I really like this style. It makes it much easier to focus on the strategy at hand, I believe, when you aren’t comparing one book to another.
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