Reading and Writing Informational Texts: Challenges in Going to School | EL Education CurriculumTEST2

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ELA G2:M1:U2

Reading and Writing Informational Texts: Challenges in Going to School

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In Unit 2, students build on their understanding of school by engaging in a series of active close read-alouds of Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools around the World by Susan Hughes. Through this text, students consider the unit guiding questions: “Why is it hard for children to go to school in some communities?” and “How do communities solve these problems so their children can go to school?” Through these close read-alouds, students develop their informational reading and writing skills as they learn how factors like weather and location can make it difficult for children to go to school, and the kinds of solutions communities create to overcome these challenges.

Students document their learning in their Off to Class notebook, where they learn to take notes on an informational text. They then use these notes to write informative paragraphs that follow a problem and solution structure. The Unit 2 Assessment contains two parts. For Part I, students engage in two less scaffolded close read-alouds of Off to Class. In Part II, students use their notes to write an informative paragraph (RI.2.1, W.2.2). Students further demonstrate their learning by performing Readers Theater scripts about the three schools they have learned about in Off to Class

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • Why is it hard for some children to go to school in their communities?
  • Things like weather and location can make it difficult for children to go to school.
  • How do communities solve these problems so their children can go to school?
  • Communities think of solutions to make sure students have a place to go to school.

The Four T's

  • Topic: Challenges in going to school
  • Task: Reading and writing about schools around the world
  • Targets (standards explicitly taught and assessed): RI.2.1, W.2.2
  • Text: Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools around the World

Assessment

Each unit in the K-2 Language Arts Curriculum has one standards-based assessment built in. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

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Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the integrated literacy block of the school day. This module also intentionally incorporates social studies content that many teachers across the nation are expected to address in second grade. These intentional connections are described below. (Based on your state or district context, teachers may also choose to address additional specific social studies standards during other parts of the school day.) 

C3 Framework for Social Studies:

  • D2.Geo.4.K-2. Explain how weather, climate, and other environmental characteristics affect people’s lives in a place or region.
  • D2.Civ.6.K-2. Describe how communities work to accomplish common tasks, establish responsibilities, and fulfill roles of authority.
  • D2.Civ.9.K-2. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions while responding attentively to others when addressing ideas and making decisions as a group.

Habits of Character/Social-Emotional Learning Focus

Central to EL Education curriculum is a focus on “habits of character” and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this module, students work to become effective learners to develop the mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life.

Throughout Unit 2, students focus on two habits of character: collaboration and perseverance. Students are introduced to the habits of perseverance and collaboration through the text Off to Class and discuss specific examples in which communities use these habits to overcome challenges in going to school. Students then practice the habit of collaboration as they engage in Readers Theater in small groups later in the unit.

The following student learning targets are a focus for this unit. Please refer to Teaching Notes in the lessons:

  • I work to become an effective learner.
  • I persevere.
  • I collaborate.

Unit-at-a-Glance

Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Accountable Independent Reading

The ability to read and comprehend text is the heart of literacy instruction. Comprehension is taught, reinforced, and assessed across all three components of this primary curriculum: Integrated module lessons, Integrated Labs, and the Reading Foundations Skills block (see Module Overview).

For Unit 2, during the independent reading in the Skills block, reinforce the comprehension skills and standards that students are practicing during the Integrated Literacy block:

  • RI.2.1: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
    • Invite the students to read aloud a portion of an informational text and ask comprehension questions.
    • After a student reads aloud the first few pages of an informational text, ask: “What questions do you have? What are you wondering?”
    • Provide a note-catcher for students to use while reading that asks basic questions (e.g., “What was the topic of this section?” and “Where did these events take place?”).

Supporting English Language Learners

Whereas the Meeting Students’ Needs column in each lesson contains support for both ELLs and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), ELLs have unique needs that cannot always be met with UDL support. According to federal guidelines, ELLs must be given access to the curriculum with appropriate supports, such as those that are identified for ELLs in the Meeting Students’ Needs column.

  • Prioritize lessons for classrooms with many ELLs: Consider prioritizing and expanding instruction in Lessons 1–6 to support comprehension of the anchor text, Off to Class, including Language Dives, and informative paragraph writing. Students may benefit from additional time with writing, as the unit introduces principles of paragraph structure that will set the foundation for their informational writing throughout the year. Consider placing less focus on and condensing instruction in Lessons 8–9.
  • Language Dives: All students participate in a Language Dive in Lesson 3. ELLs follow up with an optional, connected Language Dive in Lesson 5. Most lessons also offer optional Mini Language Dives for ELLs. Language Dives are guided conversations about the meaning of a sentence from the central texts, models, or learning targets. The conversation invites students to unpack complex syntax, or “academic phrases,” as a necessary component of building both literacy and habits of mind. Students then apply their understanding of language structure as they work toward the assessments and performance task. All Language Dives follow a Deconstruct-Reconstruct-Practice routine, in which students discuss and play with the meaning and purpose of the sentence and each chunk of the sentence; put the chunks back together into the original order and any possible variations; and practice using the chunks in their own speaking and writing. To maximize language practice and accommodate time, consider dividing or reviewing each Language Dive over multiple lessons. A consistent Language Dive routine is critical in helping all students learn how to decipher complex sentences and write their own. In addition, Language Dive conversations can hasten overall English language development for ELLs. Avoid using the Language Dive Guide to lecture about grammar; the Guide is designed to prompt students as they grapple with the meaning and purpose of the chunks and the sentence. Consider providing students with a Language Dive log inside a folder to track Language Dive sentences and structures and collate Language Dive note-catchers. Assure students that this log will not be graded; however, consider inviting students to use their log and note-catchers to gauge the progress of their speaking and writing skills. For more information on Language Dives, refer to the Supporting English Language Learners Guidance in the Module 1 Appendix.
  • Goal 1 Conversation Cues: Continue to encourage productive and equitable conversation with Conversation Cues, which are questions teachers can ask students to help achieve four goals: (Goal 1) encourage all students to talk and be understood; (Goal 2) listen carefully to one another and seek to understand; (Goal 3) deepen thinking; and (Goal 4) think with others to expand the conversation (adapted from Michaels, Sarah and O’Connor, Cathy. Talk Science Primer. Cambridge, MA: TERC, 2012. Based on Chapin, S., O’Connor, C., and Anderson, N. [2009]. Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Grades K–6. Second Edition. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications). Refer to the Module 1 Appendix for the complete set of cues. Goal 1 Conversation Cues are introduced in Unit 1, Lesson 3. Heightened language processing and development is a primary potential benefit for ELLs.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Investigate the routines, practices, rituals, beliefs, norms, and experiences that are important to ELLs and their families. Integrate this background into the classroom as students explore an informational text taking place across different cultures and countries. The anchor text, Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools around the World, explores different communities with educational access challenges. Research to make sure that students have not experienced trauma related to some of the events featured in the text, such as earthquakes or floods. If necessary, prepare students for these topics and encourage them to share any feelings the text may elicit. Create a safe space for students to express themselves without putting them on the spot if they choose not to. Make sure students understand that although the text explores communities from different countries, the communities profiled in the text do not represent all communities and people within that country or region. Consult with a guidance counselor, school social worker, or ESL teacher for further investigation of diversity and inclusion concerns.
  • Strategic grouping: As students are invited to pair up for various tasks and protocols, seriously consider matching ELLs to a partner who has greater language proficiency. The conversations that happen as a result of such strategic grouping will greatly serve the language development of both partners.
  • Language processing time: Give ELLs sufficient time to think about what they want to say before they share with other students or write.
  • Writing and paragraph organization: Students will receive explicit instruction in how to craft an informative paragraph: focus statement, body sentences, and concluding sentence. Organization may be difficult to grasp for some students who may struggle to comprehend the language itself. Use color-coding and manipulatives, such as sentence strips, to support this skill.
  • Close read-aloud and identifying supporting details: Students will participate in a series of close read-aloud sessions, during which they will hone their comprehension and interpretive skills by determining details in a text that support the understanding of problems and solutions. Use photographs, videos, and visual information as much as possible to support student comprehension. Give students opportunities to act and to move. Check for comprehension frequently and ask probing questions to elicit details from the text. Use Conversation Cues to foster discussion among students.
  • Celebration: Celebrate the courage, enthusiasm, diversity, and bilingual skills that ELLs bring to the classroom.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.


Text Quantity ISBNs
Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools around the World
by Susan Hughes
6 per classroom
ISBN: 9781926818863

Materials

For basic lesson preparation, refer to the materials list and Teaching Notes in each lesson. The following are unusual materials that may take more time or effort to organize or prepare.

  • Lesson 1: Prepare Off to Class notebook, Off to Class notebook (example, for teacher reference), Our Study of School Word Wall card: community.
  • Lesson 2: Prepare Our Study of School Word Wall cards: problem; research; Xixuaú, Brazil; remote.
  • Lesson 3: Prepare Our Study of School Word Wall cards: solution, solar panels.
  • Lesson 4: Prepare Our Study of School Word Wall cards: Port-au Prince, Haiti; damaged; destroyed.
  • Lesson 6: Prepare Our Study of School Word Wall cards: Chalanbeel Region, Bangladesh.
  • Lesson 8: Determine Readers Theater groups and designated areas for each of the three groups to practice.

Technology and Multimedia

  • Google Docs - Complete notebooks: Students complete their notebooks in Google Docs.
  • Speech to Text (many newer devices already have this capability. There also free apps for this purpose, including Dragon Dictation) - To create writing by speaking: Students complete their notebooks by speaking rather than writing or typing.
  • Seesaw - Create student learning portfolios to share with other students, families: Video/audio record student discussions and performances to share with families and other students.
  • Schools around the world – in pictures - Additional research: Students look at pictures of schools and classrooms around the world for additional research whole group, small group or independently.
    • “Schools around the world – in pictures”. The Guardian. Web. Jun 8, 2016.
  • How classrooms look around the world — in 15 amazing photographs - Additional research: Students look at pictures of schools and classrooms around the world for additional research whole group, small group or independently.
    • Strauss, V. “How classrooms look around the world — in 15 amazing photographs.” The Washington Post. Web. Nov 13, 2015

Labs

Labs are 1 hour of instruction per day. They are designed to promote student proficiency and growth.

There are 5 distinct Labs: Explore, Engineer, Create, Imagine, and Research. Each of the Labs unfolds across an entire module and takes place in four stages: Launch, Practice, Extend, and Choice and Challenge.

During their Lab time, students break up into smaller Lab groups and go to separate workstations (tables or other work spaces around the classroom). This structure creates a small collaborative atmosphere in which students will work throughout their Labs experience. It also supports the management of materials (since each workstation has its own materials).

Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions

Community:

  • Invite family members to come speak to the class about their experiences in school.
  • Invite students to write invitations to a kindergartener from a class at your school to the Celebration of Learning.
  • Invite other faculty members and families to the Celebration of Learning.

Experts:

  • Invite staff who have taught outside of the state or country to share their experiences about going to school. Encourage them to bring pictures and share personal stories about their time in school.
  • See if professors from local universities can come speak to the class about how organizations like UNICEF and Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) help communities around the world.
  • Invite the art teacher to come to your room as an art expert and show students how to create strong drawings for their “The Most Important Thing about Schools” books.
  • Invite fourth- or fifth-graders to be editing experts and support students in editing “The Most Important Thing about Schools” books.

Fieldwork:

Contact your librarian and visit the local library to do more research on boat schools, tent schools, and schools on wheels.

Service:

  • Create a class book from the informational paragraphs students produce and sell them to local bookstores. Donate these profits to one of the community organizations from Off to Class.
  • Take a trip to your local library and have students donate their “The Most Important Thing about Schools” books to the library.

Extensions:

  • Read other sections from the text Off to Class. Document the problem community members faced in sending their students to school and how they solved this problem so students could go to school.
  • Learn more about specific organizations affiliated with the schools students learned about, such as the Solar Electric Light Fund, UNICEF, etc. See page 62 of the text Off to Class for more information.
  • Have students do research to learn more about other schools in other parts of the world.
  • Research the countries of origin of students and help all students make connections between their country of origin and the topic or text. Research and share different kinds of schools in the students’ countries and communities of origin. Privately discuss what you found with students before the lesson. During the lesson, tell students: “I searched online and found out that _____ (country), where _____ (name of student) is from, has a very interesting type of school.” Share the information you found on the topic or text and invite the student to share his or her experience with the class. Record patterns in student responses on a Schools around the World anchor chart.
  • Invite students to discuss schools with their family and friends at home, and then share what they learn with the class. Students can bring objects from home to enhance the sharing. Ask students to record patterns on a School Experiences Poster.
  • Invite students to create another “The Most Important Thing about Schools” book using another school from Off to Class.

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