Language Arts Teacher Resources
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Organizing the Sections of Our Constitution
Young writers use the Iroquois Constitution as a model to help them organize their own class constitution in the seventh lesson of this unit. Using this historic text helps students better understand the structure of this type of writing, how each section has a main idea with supporting rules/laws. Young scholars then apply their learning as they work in small groups to categorize their own class constitution written in previous lessons. A great resource that assists the class in creating a meaningful piece of collaborative writing.
Paragraph Writing, Part II
Come up with a list of requirements for this expository essay on Esperanza's character in Esperanza Rising as a class and use the list to guide class writing. Here, learners will complete the first paragraph, discuss their notes for the second paragraph, and then compose the second paragraph. Instead of think-pair-share, have your class members ink-pair-share as they write! They will write a few sentences, and then share will their small groups for feedback. The writing they do will be used during a final assessment for the unit.
Critiquing and Polishing Our Explanatory Paragraphs
With their constitution paragraph drafts in hand, fourth graders work in pairs to critique and revise each other's writing. This process can be very challenging for young writers, but a praise-question-suggest protocol is outlined in the lesson that emphasizes giving kind, specific, and helpful feedback. This procedure is modeled as the class creates a list of revision questions and uses them to critique a sample piece of writing, before finally pairing up and sharing their work. Be sure to assign partners carefully, as children can be very sensitive to receiving feedback from their peers. Overall, a good lesson that effectively addresses a difficult step in the writing process.
A Persuasive Writing Project That Aligns to Common Core Standards
Create a writing project that focuses on the Common Core ELA Standard for writing an argumentative essay.
Close Reading of Nasreen's Secret School: How Do People Access Books in Afghanistan?
Third graders continue to practice the close reading skills of capturing the gist and reading again for important details in the sixth activity in a larger unit. This is a great beginning-of-the-year unit for establishing visible thinking routines and norms in the classroom. Using the realistic and emotionally moving story Nasreen's Secret School, learners independently practice the technique of using sticky notes to record vocabulary words and collect important details about the main message of the text. Learners then transition to a whole-class circle activity with their notes, and create a classroom anchor reading chart to highlight patterns in the details. An assessment chart is provided for teachers to complete a mid-unit assessment of speaking and listening skills.
End of Unit 1 Assessment: Close Reading and Powerful Note-Taking on My Own
As the final lesson in a larger beginning-of-the-year unit to establish routines and teach close reading skills, this plan is designed as an assessment piece. Using the story, The Librarian of Basra, learners independently complete three activities previously practiced: finding the gist and identifying unknown vocabulary, reading again for important details, and powerful notetaking for answering text-dependent questions. Although the plan is scheduled for one hour, it may be helpful to extend work time and break the activities into a two day cycle.
Building Background Knowledge About Physical Environment: What Makes it Hard for Some People to Get Books?
How far would your pupils go to be able to have access to books? Revisit Heather Henson and David Small's That Book Woman and challenge class members to take on the role of Cal or the Book Woman. By putting themselves in someone else's place, learners will discover different perspectives and understand better the envrionmental difficulties that Cal and the Book Woman face. After role-playing, transition into a brief informational text about physical envrionments. An engaging beginning to this Common Core desgined unit.
Examining Models: Criteria for Success for Our Explanatory Paragraphs
Following up their writing of a school constitution, fourth graders prepare to write a paragraph explaining the document to their peers. After looking at two writing samples, the teacher assists learners in developing their own criteria for creating strong explanatory paragraphs. Young scholars then choose one of two graphic organizers to help them in planning out the structure of their writing. Though the lesson plan focuses on writing about previous work from this interdisciplinary unit, it can be adapted to variety of other topics as well.
Taking Notes Using a Graphic Organizer: Inferring About the Importance of Religion in Colonial America
Improve class understanding of colonial times by reading an informational text and filling out the accompanying graphic organizer. Class members work with a partner to read, take notes, make inferences, and synthesize information.The activity does not provide a copy of If You Lived in Colonial Times, so you will need to find the text. Since the series of lessons only uses parts of the text, you could probably buy one book and make a class set for your learners.
Close Reading of Waiting for the Biblioburro: Finding the Main Message and Taking Notes
Expose your class to Waiting for the Biblioburro, narrative nonfiction that will act as the bridge between ficiton and informational texts to come. Class members do a close reading of the text, looking at excerpts instead of the whole text to make it more manageable. Pupils explain and discuss the main message of the story. The text is not included; however, handouts, suggestions for excerpts, and detailed procedures are outlined in the plan.
Close Reading of Bullfrog at Magnolia Circle: Predators and Prey
Reading is fantastic, especially when it's reading about bullfrogs. Kids get cozy with predator/prey relationships as they hone their information-reading skills. They start out as they read a portion of the text aloud, then they think-pair-share, and finally they finish up be re-reading the selected passage and completing a worksheet. The one really nice thing about this lesson is that it provides considerations for students that may need additional support.
Creating Our Parts of the Constitution
After rereading parts of the Iroquois Constitution from previous lessons as well as articles on conflict resolution and bullying, fourth graders work in pairs to write sections of their school constitution. Using the provided writing frame, learners identify a problem they observe in school, create a rule to address the issue, and explain how the situation will be improved. This lesson meaningfully engages students in using their writing to make a positive impact on their school.
Developing Reading Fluency: Criteria for Reading Aloud
Third graders develop their reading superpowers in a lesson on fluency. After first listening to an audio recording or teacher read aloud, the class works together identifying criteria for fluent reading, focusing on phrasing, rate, punctuation, and expression. Children then participate in a whole-class choral reading of a familiar text before pairing up for further practice with fluent reading. Though the lesson is part of a third grade unit and cites specific texts, it can easily be adapted to other ages and pieces of literature. An excellent resource for developing this fundamental skill in young readers.
Writing to Explain: Gathering Details and Organizing Paragraphs
The first in a series of writing lessons included in a unit study of the Iroquois focuses on gathering information needed to craft a paragraph. Writers use the included four-square graphic organizer to record a topic sentence, details they plan to use, and a conclusion for their paragraph. Although designed specifically for this unit, the approach for crafting an informative/explanatory response can be used with any text. Also included in the packet are detailed directions for the plan, accommodations, and links to additional materials.
Developing Reading Fluency: Selecting a Text and Practicing Reading Aloud
Young readers continue to strengthen their fluency skills with a text of their choosing. The teacher first engages the class with an audio recording or read-aloud of a short poem, modeling for children how to read fluently. Next it's game time, as the class plays charades or taboo in order to reinforce the fluency vocabulary phrasing, rate, punctuation, and expression. Students then choose a text and read it independently, making notes to assist them when reading the text aloud. Finally, learners pair up and practice their fluent reading, providing each other with constructive feedback. Adaptable to a wide range of ages, this is a great resource for developing the reading skills of your class.
Developing Reading Fluency: Beginning the End of Unit 2 Assessment
Third graders continue to develop their reading fluency in preparation for their assessment in the tenth lesson of this unit. Young readers are provided with a short passage on Helen Keller, which they use while working in pairs reading and providing feedback on each other's fluency. During this practice time, the teacher selects kids to read the passage aloud in order to make audio recordings for their fluency assessment. A great opportunity is provided for documenting your class's growth as readers. If using this resource with upper graders, be sure to supplement a passage more appropriate to their reading level.
New! Grade 4: Module 2A: Unit 1: Lesson 2 Inferring from a Primary Source: Close Read of Colonial Times Inventory
Teach your class about colonial America through an examination of primary documents. First though, start vocabulary notebooks for content-specific and academic vocabulary. Pupils can keep this record during the entire module. Once this is set up, learners move on to act as historians and read the primary source Inventory of John Allen, making inferences and using evidence from the text as support. The file includes all of the materials except for the pages class members are supposed to read for homework.
Learning About Farms in Colonial America: Explicit vs. Inferred Information
Aid your pupils in understanding the terms explicit and inferred while teaching them about colonial farmers. The third lesson in the module, this plan builds off the previous lesson and focuses heavily on inference. Learners analyze a photograph and read an article about colonial farmers, filling out a graphic organizer, and collaborating with others as they work. Close the lesson with a sharing session and an exit ticket
End of Unit 1 Assessment: Inferring and Synthesizing (From Two Texts) About Life in Colonial America
Close your colonial America unit with a performance-based assessment. Class members will show their proficiency in several skills including using details to back up inferences, determining the meaning of words in context, and synthesizing information from two texts on the same topic. Wrap up with a reflection. The end to a strong unit, this assessment is designed for the Common Core and should build effectively off of instruction from the past eight lessons.
New! Grade 4: Module 2A: Unit 1: Lesson 5 Mid-Unit 1 Assessment: Inferring with Pictures and Text
Mark the mid-point in the module with the authentic assessment described and provided here. The focus of the assessment, and the unit as a whole, is inferring using pictures and text. Pupils are given an image, a graphic organizer, and an article, and must use explicit details to support their inferences. After class members complete the assessment, have them reflect on their progress so far. The plan suggests providing extra reading for learners who finish early. That material is not included.