Setting Purpose: Understanding the Power of Printed Words to Convey a Message | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G1:S1:C1:L2

Setting Purpose: Understanding the Power of Printed Words to Convey a Message

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can review rhythm and rhyme in "Open a Book, Unlock a Door." RF.K.2a, RF.K.2b, RF.K.2c, RF.K.2e)
    • I can count the syllables in a spoken word.
    • I can segment (break apart) and pronounce separate syllables in a spoken word.
    • I can blend separate syllables to form a spoken word.
    • I can blend onset and rime in a word.
    • I can segment onset and rime in a word.
    • I can add a specified phoneme (sound (example: /m/)) at the beginning of a spoken rime (example: "-at") that I hear and then say the word.
    • When given a spoken(consonant, vowel, consonant) word (example: "man"), I can change the final phoneme (sound) to another (examples: "n" to "p") and then say the new word.
  • Work Time A: I can determine the author's message in the poem "Open a Book, Unlock a Door."
  • Work Time B: Using evidence from the letter, I can add to my understanding of the author and her purpose

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during Opening A.
    • Determine whether they can identify the number of syllables in spoken words.
    • Determine whether they can segment and blend onset and rime, and individual phonemes in single syllable words.



1. Opening (5-7 minutes)

A. Phonological Awareness: "Open a Book, Unlock a Door"

2. Work Time (10 minutes)

A. Understanding the Message in Print: "Open a Book, Unlock a Door"

B. Read-aloud: Mystery Letter #2

3. Closing and Assessment (3 minutes)

A. Reflecting on Learning: How Is Opening a Book Like Opening a Door?

4. Differentiated Small Group Instruction and Rotations (40 minutes)

In Advance

  • Prepare:
    • Mystery Letter #2 (can be put in envelope addressed to the class to enhance the mystery)
    • Keyword Picture Cards for the short vowels (from Kindergarten)
    • Articulatory Gestures chart for short vowel sounds
    • Materials for Independent Work Rotations (paper, pencils, crayons, or other coloring materials; blank paper; books for independent reading)
  • Write the poem "Open a Book, Unlock a Door" on chart paper or project it electronically onto a whiteboard.
  • Collect a picture of each of the following: "book," "door," "knight," "castle," "frog," "log."
  • Pre-determine which Activity Bank suggestion to use for Word Work during independent work time and prepare necessary Materials.


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T)

  • recite (L)
  • adventure, castle, evening, explore, knight, mystery (T)


  • Mystery Letter #2 (one for teacher use)
  • Poem: "Open a Book, Unlock a Door" on large chart paper or projected on a whiteboard or screen (from Lesson 1)
  • Work Time Pictures: "book," "door," "knight," "castle," "frog," "log"
  • Articulatory Gestures chart (from Lesson 1)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Phonological Awareness: “Open a Book, Unlock a Door”

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of “The More We Get Together”):

“Sit down and come together, together, together, sit down and come together, together right now. Let’s re-cite our poem and lis-ten to the sounds in the words. Sit down and come together, together right now.”

  • Teacher says: “Yesterday we got this wonderful poem and we found it had rhyming words. Today we’re going to play with some of the other sounds in words.”
  • Begin the Phonological Awareness instructional practice:

1. Teacher recites the poem aloud with expression, drawing students’ attention to the rhythm and beats by tapping the pointer and middle finger of the right hand together against the same fingers of the left hand.

2. Teacher says: “There’s that rhythm and beat again! Let’s see if we can feel it in our bodies and mouths.”

3. Teacher and students recite the poem aloud slowly, tapping the rhythm and beats on their fingers.

4. Teacher recites the first two lines with tapping while students listen: “I want an adventure, new lands to explore. So I open a book to unlock a door.”

5. Teacher asks:

“How many beats are in the word ‘adventure’?” (three)

6. Teacher invites students to say the word “adventure” aloud, holding up a finger every time they hear a beat.

7. Repeat steps 5–6 with the words “want” and “explore.”

8. Teacher asks:

“What do we call the beats in a word?” (syllables)

9. Teacher says: “That’s right. Some words have one syllable, like the word ‘want,’ and some words have more than one. The word ‘explore’ has two: ‘ex’-‘plore,’ and the word ‘adventure’ has three: ‘ad’-‘ven’-‘ture.’”

10. Repeat steps 5–6 with the remaining lines in the poem.

11. Teacher says: “Now let’s play a game. I’ll say each syllable in a word, and you say the word they make.”

12. Teacher says: “o”-“pen.”

13. Students say: “open.”

14. Repeat steps 12–13 with two or three more multisyllabic words from the poem.

15. Teacher says: “Now that we’ve listened for each syllable in words that have more than one syllable, let’s go a little smaller. Let’s play a game with words that have just one syllable.”

16. Teacher asks:

“Who can give me a word from the poem that has one syllable?”

17. Teacher says: “Let’s break that word into its beginning sound and ending chunk.”

18. Teacher models with the word. Example: “door, /d/-/or/.”

19. Teacher invites students to do this with one or two more words from the poem.

20. Teacher reverses the process, saying: “Now I’ll say a one-syllable word and you break it into its beginning sound and ending chunk.”

21. Teacher models. Example: “/d/-/or/, door.”

22. Teacher invites students to do this with one or two more words from the poem.

23. Teacher says: “Now that we’ve listened for the beginning and ending chunk in words with just one syllable, let’s go even smaller! Let’s listen for each individual sound in a word!”

24. Teacher models with the word “door” and asks:

“What is the first sound in the word ‘door’?” (/d/)

“What is the middle sound?” (/ō/)

“What is the final sound?” (/r/)

“Who can break the word ‘door’ into each individual sound?” (/d//o//r/).

25. Teacher repeats step 25 with one or two more words from the poem.

  • Consider tapping each beat (syllable) in the transition song with your fingers. Tapping the pointer and middle finger of the right hand together against the same fingers in the left hand works well. Sing the song again, a little more slowly, inviting students to do the same and emphasizing each beat with the finger tapping. Feeling each "beat" in this way supports syllabication. This will be done again while reciting the poem.
  • For students who have difficulty managing the timing and coordination involved in tapping the beats in spoken words: Reciting the words slowly may help.
  • Consider asking students to remind the group what makes two words rhyming words (they end with the same sound). Asking students to articulate their understanding supports their ability to analyze words.
  • In the process in steps 5-7, a specific word from the poem is spoken aloud and students are asked to determine the number of syllables it has. Consider reversing the process in step 10 with one of the later lines in the poem by not providing the spoken word first. Instead, ask students to identify "a word with one syllable," "two syllables," etc., as they recite the line.
  • Consider inviting the entire group or individual students to respond in step 13.
  • Use the Articulatory Gestures chart as needed to support students' ability to differentiate the sounds of vowels.
  • Consider extending the manipulation of individual phonemes to include having students substitute sounds in spoken words (example: "change the /d/ in 'door' to /m/ and say the new word ('more')").

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Understanding the Message in Print: "Open a Book, Unlock a Door"

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of "The More We Get Together"):

"Now it's time to be detectives, detectives, detectives, now it's time to be detectives, and look for some clues."

  • Begin the Understanding the Message in Print instructional practice:

1. Teacher displays the poem "Open a Book, Unlock a Door" on chart paper, or by projecting it electronically, and says: "I'm still wondering about what Laura said in her letter. What could she have meant when she said that words changed her life when she was in first grade? In her letter, she said that she was inspired to write this poem for us. I think that this poem may be a clue."

2. Teacher points to the title and asks:

"Usually the title of a book or a poem gives you an idea what it is about. What does this title tell us?" (Answers will vary.)

3. Teacher says: "Let's read this poem together. Be sure to follow along with your eyes as I read it aloud."

4. Teacher uses index finger or a pointer to move under the words from left to right as he or she and the students read the poem aloud.

5. Teacher displays Work Time Pictures of the following words: "book," "door," "knight," "castle," "frog," "log."

6. Teacher asks students to identify the subject of the pictures and their connection to the poem.

7. Teacher invites individual students to hold the pictures while the class reads the poem again. When they hear their word, they hold up their picture.

8. Teacher asks the following suggested comprehension questions:

"What is the poem about?" (Opening a book is like unlocking a door: When you read a book, it is like you are going to another place.) "How do you know?" (text-based responses)

"How can opening a book be like unlocking a door?" (When you open a door and walk through it, you go to a new place; when you open a book and read it, it's like going to a new place or becoming a different person.)

"What does it mean to explore?" (go out and see/find new things)

"What does she mean when she says, 'Today I'm a knight, tomorrow a frog'?" (She may read about a knight one day and feel like she is a knight, and the next day read about a frog and feel like she is one.)

"Who do you think 'I' is in the poem?" (the author) "What makes you think that?" (Students may make the connection back to where the writer said she wrote a poem for the class.)

"Why do you think she wrote this poem for us? What makes you think that?" (answers will vary)

B. Read-aloud: Mystery Letter #2

1. Teacher displays Mystery Letter #2 with much curiosity and drama (example: "Oh, I forgot! This appeared on my desk this morning!").

2. Teacher asks:

"What could this be? Shall we open it and find out?"

3. Teacher reads the letter aloud to the students.

4. Teacher asks:

"How does this letter connect to what she wrote to us in her poem?" (The poem talks about books being like doors to other places--she said that's what it felt like to her when her teacher read books in first grade.)

"What did she tell us in this letter about how words changed her life in first grade?" (The words in books made her feel like she was in a whole new world/place/time.)

"What else have we learned about the author/writer of this letter?" (text-based responses (really loves cocoa, books and words are important to her, etc.))

  • This letter provides an opportunity to build vocabulary with the use of words such as "evening" and "horizon" and descriptive language such as "the sun sinks slowly" and "casting their yellow light into the darkening sky." Consider rereading the first paragraph of the letter to draw attention to and determine the meaning of this language. For example:

"What does the word evening mean?" (just before nighttime)

"What from the letter helped us understand what that word means?" (The writer said the sun was just sinking, the streetlights were just coming on.)

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reflecting on Learning: How Is Opening a Book like Opening a Door?

  • Teacher says: "I'm fascinated by the idea of opening a book being like opening a door."
  • Teacher asks:

"Where would you like a book to take you?"

  • Teacher invites individual students to share their ideas.
  • Consider modeling this by sharing where you would like a book to take you.

Independent Work Rotations

Suggested Plan: This first cycle provides time for students to practice what it means to work independently. A brief introduction is made to Materials and expectations for work habits, and social interactions are established.

Note: Three suggestions for independent activities are given. Consider using any or all of these. For example, you may want to have all students working on the same activity, or you may want to have two or three activities happening simultaneously for a set time and then rotate students through.

Independent Reading:

  • Students spend time looking at their own individual book(s).

Word Work:

  • Activity Bank suggestions:
    • An Activity Bank activity from the Phonological Manipulation (PM) category

Responding to Text:

  • Students draw a picture representing where they would like a book to take them and label the picture.
  • Consider using construction paper to make a "door" that opens to reveal the picture showing where the book has taken the student.
  • The pictures can be displayed in the classroom alongside a copy of Mystery Letter #2.

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