Writing to Show Understanding: Creating a Magnificent Thing | EL Education CurriculumTEST2

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ELA G1:M1:U3

Writing to Show Understanding: Creating a Magnificent Thing

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In Unit 3, students bring to life classroom tools and habits of character as they work collaboratively to solve a classroom design challenge and answer the unit guiding question: "How do we create a magnificent thing?" In small groups, students plan, create, and revise a "magnificent" thing that fulfills a classroom need. Grounded in the learning and read-alouds of Units 1 and 2, students consider the guiding notion that people use tools and habits of character to create magnificent things. Students’understanding of the definition and use of tools from Tools by Ann Morris supports their choices and selection of classroom tools to do the job. In order to sketch a plan for their work, they revisit the girl in The Most Magnificent Thing to identify the process and the habits of character she used to make her creation.

While students engage in the hands-on work of creating a magnificent thing to satisfy a classroom need, they also pause to reflect and show what they know through informational writing. In the Unit 3 assessment, students independently demonstrate their writing skills by answering an on-demand writing prompt that asks them to describe a habit of character they used to create their magnificent thing for classroom use. (W.1.2). Before this assessment, writing instruction is scaffolded through teacher modeling and chunking of the performance task’s informational writing piece. Finally, students share their magnificent things and written pieces with their classmates and other classroom visitors during an end of module celebration.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

How do we create a magnificent thing?

  • People use tools and habits of character to create magnificent things.

The Four T's

  • Topic: Creating a Magnificent Thing
  • Task: Writing to Show Understanding: Describing a Habit of Character
  • Targets (standards explicitly taught and assessed): W.1.2, SL.1.1a, SL.1.1b, SL.1.1c
  • Text: No new texts in this unit. Students revisit The Most Magnificent Thing

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 first 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.)

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 by developing the mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life. Throughout Unit 3, students practice initiative, collaboration, perseverance, and responsibility as they work in small groups and engage in the hands-on creation of a magnificent thing for classroom use.

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

  • RI.1.1: Ask and answer questions about 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?"

  • RI.1.7: Use the illustrations and details in a text to describe its key ideas.
    • When conferencing with students, have them explain how the illustration or details in the text relate to the key ideas in the text.
    • Ask:

      “How do these illustrations help you understand the text?”

Supporting English Language Learners

The Meeting Students' Needs column in each lesson contains support for both ELLs and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and some supports can serve a wide range of student needs. However, 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 specifically identified as "For ELLs" in the Meeting Students’ Needs column. 

  • Prioritizing lessons for classrooms with many ELLs: Consider prioritizing and expanding instruction in Lessons 1–5 to further support work with habits of character. Consider offering additional concrete examples, role plays, and writing models about habits of character in preparation for the assessment. If necessary, place less focus and condense instruction on writing descriptions of magnificent things in Lessons 8–11. Consider working to complete portions of the performance task as shared writing experiences and providing slightly less time for independent writing.
  • Language Dives: This unit offers only 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 2 Conversation Cues: 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 2 Conversation Cues are introduced in Lesson 1. 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 informational texts taking place across different cultures and countries. Students may take some time to adjust to the student-centered nature of these lessons. Some students may be culturally accustomed to more frequent direction and instruction from adults. Consider providing more hands-on instruction during group work at the beginning of the unit and gradually releasing. 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, seriouslyconsider 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.
  • Informative writing: Students will write an informative paragraph about the tools they used to create their magnificent things. This task may prove particularly challenging for ELLs because they must use metalinguistic skills in order to grasp paragraph organization. Students may need additional modeling and think-alouds throughout the process of taking notes and then writing a paragraph based on their notes. Consider providing sentence frames to reduce the volume of writing.
  • Creating a magnificent thing: Students will work together to create a magnificent thing while using the habits of character they have learned in prior units. As the work time is relatively unstructured, students may need some additional prompting to fully participate and to actively demonstrate habits of character. Model or fish bowl successful group work. Consider providing students with dialogue that demonstrates each habit of character. Remind students about the meaning of each habit of character by revisiting the relevant moments in The Most Magnificent Thing.
  • Celebration: Celebrate the courage, enthusiasm, diversity, and bilingual skills that ELLs bring to the classroom.

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: Legal-size envelope for Mission Letter #5
  • Lesson 2: Begin collecting materials like tape, string, shoeboxes, cardboard, and paper towel tubes for students’ magnificent things for classroom use; Magnificent Thing notebook
  • Lesson 3: Continue to collect materials like tape, string, shoeboxes, cardboard, and paper towel tubes for students’ magnificent things for classroom use
  • Lesson 4: Materials like tape, string, shoeboxes, cardboard, and paper towel tubes for students’magnificent things for classroom use; Word Wall word: responsibility
  • Lesson 5: Magnificent Thing: Teacher Model (classwork display sign materials such as construction paper, tape, string, etc.)
  • Lesson 6: Word Wall word: revise
  • Lesson 7: Materials like tape, string, shoeboxes, cardboard, and paper towel tubes for students’magnificent things for classroom use
  • Lesson 8: Prepare Magnificent Thing Writing booklets for each student by copying the pages and stapling them together
  • Lesson 12: Colored paper (four different colored sheets per group): green for the focus statement; yellow for one detail sentence about a tool; blue for another detail sentence about a tool; green for the concluding statement.
  • Lesson 13: Legal-sized envelope for the Letter to Headquarters

Technology and Multimedia

  • Google Drawings - Students draw online: Students can draw their responses online rather than on paper to share on classroom blogs or websites with families.
  • Seesaw - Create student learning portfolios to share with other students, families: Video/audio record students at work, and take photographs of work products to share with families and other students.
  • A Twiddlebug Tool Adventure - Game: Students choose tools to solve the problem.
  • The Most Magnificent Thing: Science Reading - Additional engineering projects: Students build other ‘magnificent’ things by following instructions (whole group, small group, independently).
    • Note: This site requires free sign-up and adult supervision and guidance is recommended.

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:

  • If you have a number of English Language Learners speaking the same native language, invite family members to come into the classroom to talk with ELLs (in their native language) about the tools students are researching. 
  • Invite community members or families in to explain how they use habits of character at their jobs or in their homes to get work done.
  • Invite family members or school members in during the days students are working to create their magnificent things.
  • Encourage family members to send in interesting materials to use for building the magnificent things.

Experts:

  • Invite people from the various fields addressed in the missions (chef, cleaners, college students studying math or science, etc.) to share their experiences with tools of the trade.
  • Invite people from inside the school building to interview and see what tools they use: janitors, nurses, school chef, etc.
  • Invite family members to share the various tools they use at home or in the field.
  • Invite Ashley Spires (author of The Most Magnificent Thing) to talk to the class.
  • Interview teachers and staff in the school about how they use habits of character to make a learning community.
  • Visit a museum that display and explains a "magnificent thing" someone famous has built.

Fieldwork:

  • Visit a construction site and observe all the tools being used.
  • Visit a local hardware store to gather information about how tools are organized.
  • Check to see if a local home improvement store offers building workshops for schools.
  • Invite students to visit other classrooms to inventory the space for ideas for a magnificent thing.
  • Try using the magnificent things in other places in the building.

Service:

  • Create pamphlets or pins containing information about or encouraging the use of habits of character.
  • Video record the process of making a magnificent thing with students talking about the process and post it on the Internet.
  • Make an extra set of magnificent things and give them to other classrooms in the building. 

Extensions:

  • Seek out and label tools in the classroom.
  • Research unique tools or tools used for different jobs.
  • Interview family members about the tools they most frequently use and why.
  • Read a text from the Recommended Texts and Other Resources list about tools; study this tool in depth and share the learning with the class.
  • Create posters for each habit of character and write in characters’ names that exemplify those habits of character while reading informational or literature texts.
  • Create a classroom signal for each habit of character to use when a teammate is showing a habit of character.
  • Save 5 minutes at the end of the day for students to shout out examples of habits of character they noticed being used that day.
  • Write thank-you letters to people in the building who have created something magnificent. Include knowledge of tools and habits of character they may have used.
  • Create a list of school tasks or projects that would require students to use each habit of character.
  • Read a text from the Recommended Texts and Other Resources list about an invention. Share the information with the class. 

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