Reading lesson and reflection
- Teaching Point: Students will demonstrate a use of the comprehension strategy making connections through text coding.
Mini Lesson: (15 minutes)
- Hook: Ask students who like to talk about themselves or what’s going on in their lives right now. Most will raise hands. Explain that when we read a story and are able to connect it to our own lives we are better able to understand the text, recall the text, and ultimately enjoy the text. Refer to the Seven Strategies for Effective Readers, posted in the class.
- Model the strategy of making connections with a read-aloud. Use an excerpt from the book The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake. As I read, stop and think aloud about the text-to-self connections. I also point out any text-to-world connections and text-to-text connections I have while I’m reading.
- Re-read the excerpt while the text is projected on a screen using a document camera. Demonstrate jotting down these connections as I read with the projected text. Students can see my exact process as I model text coding. Code each connection as either: T-S (text-to-self), T-W (text-to-world), or T-T (text-to-text). Next to text codes, stick a post-it and jot down a sentence or two about my connection.
- Active Engagement: Ask students to turn and talk to a partner for 2 minutes and ask each other if there are any different connections they made while I was reading. Ask students to show how they would code their connection. Share out.
Work time: (20 minutes)
- Hand out copies of the short story Seventh Grade by Gary Soto. Have students practice making their connections coding the text and using post-its. They should use the codes taught in the mini-lesson to label their connections.
Closing: (10 minutes)
- Have pairs of students share their responses, and then discuss as a class.
- Collect the students’ class work and assess to get a sense of their proficiency with the strategy.
- Ask students to use the text codes to make connection to their independent reading books. Codes should be made on post-its and will be used tomorrow.
Materials Needed to Modify the Lesson:
- Document camera: Visual.
- Copies of Seventh Grade by Gary Soto, one for each student.
For the purposes of this lesson I chose to model for students my process of making connections. I modeled this process by reading a text out loud and stopping frequently to note my connections. I then projected the text using a document camera to show my process for labeling or coding my connections.
The text that I modeled with was an excerpt from The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake. I chose this excerpt because it is told from the point of view of an urban teen, and uses teenage language that most students in my class use themselves. Lines like “She aint nobody worth knowing,” grab my students’ attention because this is the way they talk. My students tend to respond positively to texts like this because they can easily relate to it and at times are surprised/excited to see examples of texts that do not follow standard written English.
I also used the short story Seventh Grade by Gary Soto, as it is an extremely relevant story for my seventh grade class. The story is about a seventh grade Hispanic boy on his first day of school.
I feel these are culturally relevant resources as they contain an authentic portrayal of experiences of urban middle school students. The characters are African American and Hispanic, which is the same background as almost half of my students. The settings, situations and themes of both texts are familiar and relatable to all of my students, and I received a very positive response from most students in the class. Many students asked if they could read the rest of Seventh Grade and were disappointed by the fact that it is a short story and there is no more to read.
This was not an overly differentiated lesson, but I feel that there was a great deal of modeling and scaffolding for my students through my mini lesson. I also used a variety of materials in order to appeal to the various learning styles that make up my classroom. For example, I read my model text aloud first to reach my audio learners as well as to guide my students to practice another reading strategy, visualization. I found my students quite engaged during the read aloud. Afterwards I re-read the passage with the text projected with a document camera. While modeling the task I used highlighters and post-its to code the text which appealed to both visual and tactile learners.
Although all students were working with the same text, the story Seventh Grade is written on a V level which is on or above the reading level of all my students. I chose this text specifically to be not only culturally relevant but also respectful to the various reading levels represented in my class. This lesson will be used to extend and practice the Seven Strategies of Effective Readers which is part of my departmental goals for my students (to be proficient in the practice of these strategies).
Overall this lesson went very well, and my students really enjoyed the story. The post-its were very well received by my students and I noticed many of them making very profound connections to the text. They also enjoyed the use of highlighters and as many of my students are visual learners I am going to try to use highlighters whenever possible in future lessons. If I was going to do this lesson again I might want to find a collection of short stories that are more leveled for the class. I think a lesson like this would work better if each student was reading a text on or close to their specific level, but that is not always possible.