Setting the Purpose of the Skills Block | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G1:S1:C1:L5

Setting the Purpose of the Skills Block

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can reflect on (think about) myself as a reader and writer.
  • Opening B: Using evidence from the letter, I can add to my understanding of the author and her purpose.
  • Work Time A: I can practice what I've learned. (RF.K.2a, RF.K.2b, RF.K.2c, RF.K.2e, RF.K.3a, RF.K.3b, RF.1.2a, L.K.2c, L.K.2d)
    • I can listen to a list of words and identify which one does not rhyme.
    • I can listen to a list of three rhyming words and create a new rhyming word with a different sound.
    •  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 CVC word.
    • I can segment onset and rime in a CVC 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 CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) word (example: "man"), I can change the final phoneme (sound) to another (example: "n" to "p"), and then say the new word.
    • I can look at a letter in a word and say its sound.
    • I can identify the most common single graphemes (letters) for short vowels.
    • I can identify long and short vowel sounds in (single-syllable) words that I hear.
    • I can name the five vowel letters and explain that these are the long vowel sounds.
    • I can write a letter or letters for most consonant and short vowel sounds I hear.
    • I can use what I know about letters and their sounds to spell simple words.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during Work Time A.
    • Determine whether they can match letters to sounds and sounds to letters.
    • Also determine whether they can count the number of syllables in a spoken word, and segment and blend onset and rime and individual phonemes in words.



1. Opening (5-7 minutes)

A. Thinking About Myself as a Reader and Writer: Step on Up

B. Read-aloud: Mystery Letter #5

2. Work Time (10 minutes)

A. Cycle Review: Review Cards

3. Closing and Assessment (3 minutes)

A. Reflecting on Learning: Purpose of Skills Block

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

In Advance

  • Prepare:
    • A system for randomly choosing leaders for the Step on Up activity in Opening A (example: jar with students' names on individual sticks or pieces of paper)
    • "Open a Book, Unlock a Door" illustrations from Lesson 3 (if collected after that lesson)
    • Materials for Independent Work Rotations (paper, pencils, crayons, or other coloring materials; blank paper; books for independent reading; and glue sticks (to glue poems and song lyrics into Fluency Notebooks))
  • Cut apart the Review Cards (in supporting Materials).
  • Gather lyrics to any songs or words to other poems that students may be familiar with (for Fluency Notebooks).
  • Staple together blank pages into a booklet to be used as Fluency Notebooks (approximately 10-15 pages per booklet).


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

  • blend, decode, segment, syllable (L)
  • mild (T)


  • Mystery Letter #5 (one for teacher use)
  • Review Cards (in supporting Materials)
  • Whiteboards (one per student) or blank paper in transparent sleeve and clipboards or other hard surface
  • Whiteboard markers (one per student)
  • Whiteboard erasers (or tissues, socks, etc.; one per student)
  • Fluency Notebooks (optional; for independent work)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Thinking About Myself as a Reader and Writer: Step on Up

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

"Sit down and make a circle, a circle, a circle. Sit down and make a circle, a circle, let's go. We're going to play a game to learn about each other. Sit down and make a circle, a circle, let's go."

  • Teacher says: "We've been thinking a lot about reading and writing. Right now we're going to play a game that will help us get to know ourselves and each other as readers and writers."

1. Teacher explains the game:

      • The game is called "Step on Up."
      • A student "leader" comes to the middle of the circle and says either, "Step on up if you enjoy books about _____" or "Step on up if you like to write about _____."
      • All students to whom this applies step into the middle of the circle.
      • Students look around to see who shares that enjoyment.
      • Another "leader" is chosen, students move back to the circle, and the process begins again.

2. Teacher invites students to give suggestions for types of books or writing that the leader can name.

3. Teacher leads the first round.

4. Teacher continues the game for two or three more rounds.

  • Consider keeping a list of all the different topics for books to read or topics to write about that come up in this activity. Display and use this list as a resource when students find themselves looking for reading and/or writing ideas.

B. Read-aloud: Mystery Letter #5

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

"Now it's time to read a letter, a letter, a letter, now it's time to read a letter and see what it says."

  • Begin the Mystery Letter instructional practice:

1. Teacher displays Mystery Letter #5 with much curiosity and drama.

2. Teacher reads the letter aloud to the students.

3. Teacher asks:

"What else have we learned about the author/writer of this letter?" (text-based responses)

  • This letter provides an opportunity to build vocabulary and descriptive language. Consider rereading the first paragraph of the letter to draw attention to and determine the meaning of the language. For example:

"What does 'mild' mean?" (not too rough or cold)

"What from the letter helped you know what 'mild' means?" (said she didn't need her shawl)

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Cycle Review: Review Cards

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

"Now it's time to play a game to help us practice what we know. Now it's time to play a new game, listen carefully to how it goes."

  • Begin the Review Cards instructional practice:

1. Teacher shows students the stack of Review Cards (face down).

2. Teacher explains that each card has a prompt that will help students practice what they know.

3. Teacher explains that students will be using whiteboards, whiteboard markers, and erasers for some of the prompts.

4. Teacher sets expectations for the use of Materials.

5. Teacher distributes whiteboards, whiteboard markers, and whiteboard erasers.

6. Teacher draws the first card and reads it aloud to students.

7. Students respond on their whiteboards (if applicable).

8. Teacher invites a student volunteer to share while other students check their work.

9. Teacher continues with as many prompts as time allows.

  • Consider modeling with a Review Card and the whiteboard before distributing Materials.
  • The cards labeled "RF.1.2" do not need the students to record anything on their whiteboards unless otherwise indicated. After prompts such as, "What is the first sound you hear in the word 'run'?" consider inviting them to write the letter that makes that sound on their whiteboards.
  • Consider changing the sounds, letters, or words in the prompts on the cards according to the needs of your students.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reflecting on Learning: Purpose of Skills Block

  • Teacher refers to the knowledge and skills that have just been practiced and asks:

"Why have we been working on these things?"

  • Teacher invites individual students to share their ideas.
  • Teacher asks:

"How might words change your life?"

  • Teacher invites individual students to share their ideas.
  • Consider recording students' responses on a chart to revisit as they acquire more decoding and encoding knowledge and skills.

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).


  • Students construct a Fluency Notebook. This can be as simple as a packet of blank pages stapled together. As poems and song lyrics are collected throughout the year, students glue them onto a page in their notebooks. Begin with a copy of the poem "Open a Book, Unlock a Door."


  • Students write according to their interests. Suggestions include: Write a story, a letter, a poem, a list of words, etc.

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