Monday, November 10, 2014

Fall Workshops: Bookworms 3-5

Our bookworms workshop for grades 3-5 focuses on three of the reading strategies that our older elementary students struggle with the most: differentiating between main ideas and details, analyzing cause and effect relationships, and citing evidence to support text-dependent comprehension questions. Here's a sneak peek at some of the activities we will be doing in this workshop.

Main Idea and Details 
A student must be able to identify the main idea of a story before they can fully understand a story in its entirety. This is easier said than done with some of the longer pieces of text that students read in class. We will start our session on main idea and details by examining a few short paragraphs. Students will read them, and decipher between the main idea (what the story is mostly about) and the details (which sentences add more information about the main idea). Students will then be given an envelope containing detailed sentences. They will have a chance to practice putting the sentences together to write a main idea sentence that addresses ALL of the details. As a group, we will look closely at a longer piece of text, and color-code the sentences to reveal the main ideas and details of each paragraph. Students will take home two more passages to practice with on their own, which will be reviewed during our second session.  

Source: All The Dots
Cause and Effect
A large majority of the comprehension questions that our students are asked can be answered using the cause and effect relationships between events in a story. The choices that characters make in a story have consequences, that those consequences often have chains of events that follow. In non-fiction text, many historical events and scientific processes are explained as a series of cause and effect events. In this workshop, we use Thinking Maps to identify the causes and effects of events in our texts.

Source: The Applicious Teacher
Text-Dependent Questions
One of the major shifts in the Common Core State Standards is asking text-dependent comprehension questions. Let me explain what that means in English. Remember when you were in first grade, and your teacher read the story a class about a kid that got a new puppy? Remember how eeeeeeveryone wanted to tell their stories about when THEY got a puppy? That's called making a text-to-self connection. The story might have been followed up by a writing task that either asked you to write about a time that you got a pet, an animal that you'd like to have as a pet, or how you would have reacted if you got home and there was a puppy waiting for you on the front doorstep. You could easily receive full credit for a written response that had absolutely nothing to do with the story. Is it important for children to make these kinds of connections? Absolutely! Does telling about your own pet have anything to do with your understanding of the story? Although it's loosely connected, no. A text-dependent question might ask how Billy felt about getting the puppy, and ask you to cite evidence to support your answer. That's fancy classroom talk for "point to the place in the story where you found that information." Many of our upper elementary students are struggling to do this because they've never been asked to do it before. At best, they worked on it last year, and they certainly need more practice with it this year.

In this workshop, we will spend two weeks learning to understand the question, coming up with an answer, looking back in the text to support or refute that answer, and then explaining how that text helps us prove our answer.

Source: Luckey Frog's Lilypad
Source: Brooke Brown
Source: Create Teach Share
Source: I'm Lovin' Lit
Practicing these three skills will help your students meet and exceed their mid year reading benchmarks. We hope that if this workshop doesn't meet your needs, that you'll share it with a friend that might have students in need of this kind of practice.

Happy reading!

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