Monday, October 26, 2009

Jay M. S. October 27, 2009 Visit

Teacher: Susan S.
Content: Language Arts
Grade: 5th

Focus: Ideas from an integrated unit

Literature Source: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatblls, weather unit in science and movie

Activity: This lesson is the culmination of an integrated unit combining fiction and nonfiction.  Susan began by comparing the movie and the book.  Susan shared her thinking about why she chose this assignment - to find two verbs that were alike as a name for a town, Chew and Swallow, and follow the theme of the town's name.  Next the teacher modeled how to come up with a pair of related action words and asked for examples from the students.  Students gave good examples, i.e. open and close, see and do, hit and run, sing and dance, etc. Susan then moved to explain to students how to use the title and create a problem for the story.  Lists of related verbs were displayed for students to choose from.  Graphic organizers for mapping a plan were passed out to students.  Susan moved around the room providing support where needed.

In about 20 minutes, I began to move around the room observing the students' work.  Susan had passed out a blank page with Brainstorm on the top and directions for writing down all related ideas followed by a simple example. What I saw was impressive.  The variety spoke volumes.  Some students drew pictures, some made lists, others drew charts with columns and labels, while others had partial sentences.  By the time 30 minutes had elapsed, everyone was writing - including Susan.

Purposeful Language:
  • my thinking was
  • here is the connection I made
  • what was the title?  why?
  • what do you think?
  • can you think of any? 
Aha!  When engaging students with information in a variety of ways, they make connections that are rich - text to text (weather unit, book) - text to world (movie) - and text to self (their "take" on all of this) and can easily be accessed for writing.  What better way to integrate all of this information in a meaningful way?


Anonymous said...

Your lesson sounds like the kids really latched on to what you were asking them to do. Don't you find that when you show the students where your ideas came from and how you made your own connections, they seem to go with it with more enthusiasm?
I was impressed with the ideas of all the ways they brainstormed. Did you give them all the different ways to brainstorm or were these some that they had used before. I can see how the different brainstorming techniques would be good for different types of learners. Sounded like the kids enjoyed the activity.

Anonymous said...

I like that you were writing with the students as well. How did that feel? Did it help you to empathize with the students' experience?


Anonymous said...

I can picture the towns that would arise from some of the ideas that the students generated. It seems to work well with students when we not only ask them to write, but also write along with them.

Colleen said...

Do you always get such rich variety of pre-writing in this group? I like how the kids feel free to express and brainstorm in whatever way works for them. I have been encouraging this in my classroom as well, but have not explored as much with the drawing although, I do see so many kids that "create" better through art. A good reminder for me to offer that as an option in prewriting. Nice connection of writing, reading and unit of study!