Living an Elementary ELA Lesson

During Thursday’s afternoon ELA session, teachers took on the role of the student and started with a reading of the non-fiction article “Characteristics of a Multinational Company” in order to come up with the gist of the article. This activity led into another where the session participants could then read and find the gist of another text around which the lesson is based, “The Red Cross.” The participants then used a graphic organizer (3-column Note Catcher) to complete the tasks associated with the Taking Notes Task card protocol. Through close reading of the article, everyone was able to identify key vocabulary terms and find text-based evidence to justify their definitions, just as their students would do. The graphic organizer is a tool that helps students to define a new term/concept based on the information gleaned from the two texts. In this case, the two articles were used to identify what a multinational aid organization is.

Through a Chalk Talk, the participants discussed their own notes based on the articles they read. Then, through the Think Pair Share protocol, ideas were exchanged about the best way to respond when a community is struck by a natural disaster. Participants shared their ideas with the rest of the group in order to explain key ideas from the texts they read. After “removing their student hats,” the teachers discussed the benefits of the protocols and how they are an effective way to address the Speaking and Listening standards. One major benefit was that the protocols helped to grow their thinking through the sharing of mutual ideas and they can offer help to students who need their thinking redirected.

Session participants read the lesson that was the source of the day’s activities and looked for evidence of collaboration, protocols, and conversations. This lesson is a good example of incorporating the Speaking and Listening standards into a Common Core-aligned curriculum. A question was asked about the appropriateness of the protocols for various lessons. Each protocol in the list provided on EngageNY is prefaced with a purpose so that a teacher can decide which protocol to use depending on the goals of the lesson. The session concluded with teachers reflecting on what kinds of classroom management practices need to be in place in order to foster a collaborative environment.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent looking at how protocols can improve literacy skills and be effective in a collaborative classroom environment. Four Corners and Fishbowl were put into practice in this session. The teachers again played the role of the student for the Four Corners activity. Here, the teacher/students had to choose (from 4 options) the most important thing the Red Cross does when communities are struck by natural disaster. Conversations were text-based and gave the teachers an opportunity to see this protocol in action through the eyes of their students. They then participated in the Fishbowl protocol where volunteers discussed the purposes of the Red Cross based on the notes they had taken throughout the “lesson.” The emphasis here is on relevant notes, relevant information, and relevant evidence. Observers of the Fishbowl conversation had to look for evidence of relevance in the conversations along with other qualities including how the participants in the discussion behaved throughout the exercise. Everyone spent the remainder of the session developing a rubric for Speaking and Listening standards.

The activities and texts in these sessions came from Grade 5, Module 4, Unit 3, Lesson 3.

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