Language Arts Teacher Resources

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Writing a paragraph from details found directly in a text is the central focus of this thorough and explicit lesson plan. Using the stories Nasreen's Secret School and Rain School, third graders are lead step-by-step through the basics of paragraph writing. A well-constructed model paragraph and graphic organizer are included for this eighth lesson in a larger unit designed to introduce learners to routines, strategies, and norms at the beginning of the year.
As the final instructional activity 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. 
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.
Do schools need written constitutions? Fourth graders dive into this constructive conversation by answering, sharing, and discussing five relevant prompts. The written conversations protocol, a highly effective discussion management strategy, is included in additional materials. This plan is the second in a larger comprehensive unit.  The School Survey Data referenced is available in the previous instructional activity. A link to the unit overview is available in additional materials as well.
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 lesson 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. 
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.
Lesson 7 focuses on building academic vocabulary and writing an explanatory letter with supported textual evidence. For the first five minutes of the lesson, the educator reminds the class of how to read and refer to the accordion graphic organizer they previously created (see lesson 6 for chart & instructions). Third graders will analyze their reading strengths, the two areas that they need to work on, and how they will build up their reading power all recorded on their charts. Next, learners will use a graphic organizer to write a paragraph letter to a person of importance explaining how they can become a powerful reader. They will develop and support their writing with facts, details, and thoughts, and will also connect their reading goals to characters from previously read books such as Thank You, Mr. Falker and The Boy Who Loved Words. More worksheets and exercises extend this lesson, which is designed to help students become proficient and independent readers and writers. A very organized and comprehensive lesson that truly addresses both the language and writing Common Core standards identified. Note: This may take longer than the one hour indicated.
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.
Fourth graders practice their close reading skills with a short text on conflict resolution. Working in pairs, learners read and reread the article Smart Speak by Marilyn Cram Donahue as they identify the main idea and use context clues to understand challenging vocabulary. The class uses the text to begin making a list of rules to improve their school community, as they work toward the long term goal of writing a school constitution. Consider having students create skits to act out the conflict resolution strategies from the article as an extension activity. This is a great resource for teaching how to read closely, and can very easily be adapted to any piece of writing.
Working with the organized class constitution created in the previous lesson, fourth graders learn how certain words and phrases can be used to improve the flow of a piece of writing. By reading aloud their writing, learners notice how the different sections seem very separate and disconnected from one another. Using the provided list of linking words and phrases, pupils revise their writing to smooth out the transition between each section. This lesson teaches an important writing skill and nicely concludes work on the class 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.
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.
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.
Aid your pupils in understanding the terms explicit and inferred while teaching them about colonial farmers. The third instructional activity in the module, this plan builds off the previous instructional activity 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 instructional activity with a sharing session and an exit ticket
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.
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.
Help your learners work with difficult or archaic words. A continuation of lesson two of this module, the plan here focuses on deciphering the Inventory of John Allen, in particular the unfamiliar words that make up much of the list. Add to the vocabulary list and brainstorm ways to figure out unknown words as a class before working on the text directly. Learners use highlighters to mark unfamiliar words and examine images and a glossary to infer the meaning of the words. Wrap-up by rereading the text and adding to personal and class records of what class members know and infer. For homework, pupils create a personal inventory. 
The third instructional activity in a unit study of the Iroquois focuses on developing reading skills. Pupils brainstorm the actions of close readers and record these behaviors on an anchor chart entitled, “Close Readers Do These Things.” Guided by the list, the class begins a close reading of Section 1 of the Great Law of Peace (The Iroquois Constitution). As a unifying activity, learners also add to their anchor chart, “Things to Tell Tim,” started in instructional activity two. Although part of a complete unit, the close reading approach could be used with any informational text.
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 focuses on writing about previous work from this interdisciplinary unit, it can be adapted to variety of other topics as well. 
Continue work on the two-piece poem that compares two characters from Esperanza Rising. Give class members a few minutes to finish their drafts. After they have a complete product, model how to critique and edit the poems with one group. Pupils will learn and use the praise-question-suggest protocol to provide specific feedback, and then revise. Refer to lesson 13 of this series for setup and instructions for the two-voice poem. The lesson also scales back on some of the scaffolding. Less time is spent discussing the text than in previous lessons; however, the reduction in scaffolding feels natural and will be a nice break for learners.