Last winterI taught my K-1 class to draw conclusions during reading. This was the second day we had discussed this reading skill. I used the Read Works web site to plan my lesson. www.readworks.org I like this site because it gives me a place to start when teaching basic reading skills and comprehension strategies. It has a large library of passages for readers of all levels in both fiction and nonfiction, all of which are aligned with Common Core State Standards. I use their lessons to think about how I want to deliver the content. I usually end up changing a few things based on the time I have to teach the lesson or the level of knowledge my class needs.
The lesson that inspired me today was this one, Kindergarten: Drawing Conclusions Lesson 3 http://www.readworks.org/lessons/gradek/drawing-conclusions/lesson-3
I began by reminding the class about the previous days lesson when I introduced them to the skill of drawing conclusions. I mimed some emotions and activities for them to guess to get them warmed up. First, I acted very sleepy, then I acted like I was very sick. Then I pretended to run really fast. They picked up on these actions easily. We had done quite a few charades-like exercises the day before.
In my class we use “talking partners” during whole class lessons. I use name cards in a pocket chart to assign partners. They sit next to one another elbow to elbow, knee to knee. (EEKK) In some discussions I assign students as partner one and partner two. For this lesson I did not feel the need to do that. My class has learned to take turns talking and has been good about establishing their discussion order on their own.
I pulled the first passage called Ssssssilent Hunter up on my computer and projected in using my Promethean Board.
The passage describes the appearance and actions of an animal but never states the exact animal. The students are to use the clues in the passage to determine the type of animal being described. They should arrive at the conclusion that the animal is a snake.
My instructions to the class were to listen to me read the passage trying very hard not to shout out the conclusions they were drawing as I read but to keep them ready to share with their talking partners. As soon and I had finished a dramatic reading of the passage I told them to draw conclusions with their partners. They figured out the animal was a snake very quickly. I called the group back to attention and asked them to show me the evidence in the passage that helped them draw the conclusion about the animal. I used the desktop annotate tool on my Promethean Interactive WhiteBoard to highlight the evidence in the passage as the students dictated it to me. I reread the passage two more times until they had directed me to highlight all of the evidence that proved the animal was a snake.
During the next phase of the lesson I sent the students to the tables with a half sheet of plain white paper. I instructed them to listen while I read them a different passage and told them to quietly sketch the animal they thought was being described. This passage was called In The Night It describes a cat who gets into trouble with a dog.
I was surprised when half the class did not start drawing cats. Some of them began to draw owls, bats and snakes. I had each person share their drawings with their table mates. Even after discussing their conclusions those that hadn’t chosen to draw a cat were convinced their drawings were accurate.
I brought them to the carpet, had them talk to their talking partners about their conclusions then reread the passage and had them talk some more. During the second and third reading of the passage I saw students start nodding and smiling. Those who had guessed they animal was an owl, bat or snake began to see the clues they missed.
I called on specific people, those who had not guessed the animal was a cat at first, to tell me which evidence they heard me read the second time that changed their minds to thinking the animal was a cat. I used the desktop annotate tool to highlight the evidence. By the end of the lesson the students learned the importance of reading closely and paying attention to all the clues in a text before drawing their conclusions. Many of them said things like, “I didn’t hear you say it had paws the first time you read it” and “If I had heard you say it lived in a house I would have known it wasn’t an owl.”
I was pleased with this lesson because other than reading the passage and giving some instructions about where to sit, when to talk to their partners and what to draw, I didn’t do the lions share of the talking. The students gathered the information they needed to learn the skill by talking to one another. In my mind, this lesson exemplified the rigor and depth of the Common Core State Standards through inquiry learning and collaboration. As the week continued students happily reported to me when they had drawn conclusions in other texts. They even cited evidence! If you drew the conclusion that I am proud of my class–you are right!