Reading and Writing Opinions: Helping Pollinators | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G2:M4:U2

Reading and Writing Opinions: Helping Pollinators

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In Unit 2, students continue their study of pollinators by reading and writing opinion pieces. Specifically, students learn about the challenges facing bats and butterflies. In the first part of the unit, students read two opinion texts, A Place for Bats by Melissa Stewart and “Bats’ Roosts in Danger!” written by EL Education, which describe the dangers facing bats and different actions people can take to address them. Building on the research skills students learned in Module 3, the class records class notes about these dangers. In Lesson 6, students complete Part I of the Unit 2 Assessment by reading an opinion text independently, answering selected response questions, and completing a table to compare two texts (RI.2.1, RI.2.2, RI.2.8, RI.2.9).

In the second part of the unit, students read about the dangers facing butterflies using the texts A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart and “Help Protect Butterflies!” written by EL Education. Students continue to hone their research skills by recording class notes, which they also use as evidence in their written piece. In Lesson 8, students complete Part II of the Unit 2 Assessment by drafting a paragraph (across several days) about why butterflies are important to plants and animals, using reasons collected on the class notes to support their opinion (W.2.1). Throughout the unit, students also consider habits of character that help them contribute to a better world; this character work lays the foundation for their performance task in Unit 3.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • What dangers do pollinators face?
  • There are challenges facing pollinators, and possible solutions to those challenges.
  • Why should people protect pollinators?
  • Human actions affect pollinators.

The Four T's

  • Topic: Reading and Writing Opinions: Helping Pollinators
  • Task: Reading and Writing Opinions
  • Targets (CCSS explicitly taught and assessed): RI.2.1, RI.2.2, RI.2.8, RI.2.9, W.2.1
  • Text:  A Place for Bats, “Bats’ Roosts in Danger!”, A Place for Butterflies, “Help Protect Butterflies!”

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. The module also intentionally incorporates science and 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 or science standards during other parts of the school day.)

NGSS Science Standards:

  • 2-LS2-2: Plants depend on animals for pollination or to move their seeds around.

C3 Framework for Social Studies:

  • D2.Civ.2.K-2: Explain how all people, not just official leaders, play important roles in a community.
  • D2.Civ.10.K-2: Compare their own point of view with others’ perspectives.

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 contribute to a better world. Throughout Unit 2, students practice recognizing their own strengths and how they can learn from the strengths of others.

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: module lessons, Labs, and the Reading Foundations Skills Block (see the 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.2.2: Identify the main topic of a multi-paragraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.
    • After reading a paragraph/several paragraphs of informational text, pause and ask:
      • “What is the main idea? What, in the text, makes you think so?”
  • RI.2.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.
    • While reading an informational text, encourage students to pause when an unknown word is encountered and ask, “What does _____ mean?”
  • RI.2.8: Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text.
    • After reading an informational text, pause and ask:
      • “What is the author’s main point? What reasons support that point?”
  • RI.2.9: Compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.
    • After reading two texts on the same topic, encourage students to discuss:
      • “What points are the same in these two texts? What points are different in these two texts?”
    • Provide sentence frames if needed:
      • “In both texts, the author says/describes _________.”
      • “In the first texts, the author says/describes _________. In the second text, the author says/describes _________.”

Supporting English Language Learners

The Meeting Students’ Needs sections in each lesson contain 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 Meeting Students’ Needs.

  • Prioritizing lessons for classrooms with many ELLs: Consider prioritizing and expanding instruction in Lessons 4, 5, 8–10 to provide additional independent and shared practice writing opinion pieces. This gives students more experience in applying knowledge of opinion writing before their assessment, during which they write opinion pieces of their own. Be sure to complete the Language Dive in Lesson 7. Consider placing less focus and condensing instruction on revisions in Lesson 10.
  • Language Dives: All students participate in a Language Dive in Lesson 7. Many lessons also include optional Mini Language Dives for ELLs. These Language Dives support ELLs and all students in deconstructing, reconstructing, and practicing the meaning and structures of sentences from A Place for Bats and A Place for Butterflies. See the Tools page for additional information on Language Dives.
  • Conversation Cues: Encourage productive and equitable conversation with Goal 1–4 Conversation Cues (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). See the Tools page for additional information on Conversation Cues.
  • 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. Students continue their study of pollinators. In this unit, they learn about ways in which pollinators face dangers to survival and they examine reasons to protect them. Continue to invite students to discuss any pollinators, particularly butterflies or bats, that are significant in their home cultures. Invite students to share the names of different plants and pollinators that they may know in their home languages. Students also begin to develop reasons to support the opinion that pollinators should be protected. Some students may be more familiar or comfortable in settings where adults express opinions, and children are expected to adopt the same opinion. Therefore, these students may not be accustomed to expressing opinions, especially opinions that differ from those of adults. Be respectful of this orientation while at the same time being clear about the classroom culture. Consult with a guidance counselor, school social worker, or ESL teacher for further investigation of diversity and inclusion concerns.
  • Focused read-alouds and reading for information: Students participate in a series of focused read-aloud sessions during which they identify ways in which pollinators are in danger and reasons to protect pollinators. It may be difficult for some students to process the text while keeping in mind the specific information they are listening for. Routinely stop to remind students of the reason they are reading the text, and ask probing questions such as: “Is this a reason that supports the author’s opinion that bats should be protected? Why or why not?” Practice with expressing and supporting opinions by prompting students to share opinions about familiar topics.
  • Writing opinion pieces: Students write opinion pieces about butterflies as their Unit 2 Assessment. For students who need heavier support, consider grouping them together and working with them closely as they read and take notes to prepare for writing. During the shared writing activity, think aloud and ask probing questions to explicitly address the functions of the introduction, focus statement, supporting reasons, and conclusion. Consider providing additional time for shared writing and for students to work independently and grapple with writing opinion pieces before the Unit 2 Assessment.
  • Using adjectives and verbs with similar meanings: Students are introduced to adjectives and verbs with stronger or weaker shades of meaning (examples: fly, glide, soar). They sort vocabulary in order of strength and eventually revise their opinion pieces to use “stronger” or “weaker” adjectives and verbs. This skill is challenging because the relative difference in meaning between some of the adjectives and adverbs can be nuanced. Invite students to act out or sketch the meanings of familiar words to help illustrate this concept. Write vocabulary on paint chips as a visual representation of different “shades” of meaning.
  • 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
A Place for Butterflies
by Melissa Stewart
One per student
ISBN: 978-1-56145-784-7
A Place for Bats
by Melissa Stewart
One per pair
ISBN: 978-1-56145-763-2
Hey, Little Ant
by Phillip and Hannah Hoose
Six per classroom
ISBN: 978-1-883672-54-6

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: Opinions and Reasons sentence strips (one set per group)

Technology and Multimedia

  • YouTube Additional research: Students view Amanda’s video to to learn more about her family’s trip to see the monarchs. 
  • Word-Processing Tool - Type wildflower seed packet writing piece: Students use a word-processing tool to type their wildflower seed packet writing piece. 
  • Google Docs - Students view writing and revising process online: Students view the Celebration of Learning welcome letter in an online format, and help write and revise it. 
  • Butterflies and Moths website - Localizing the performance task: Students find images of local butterflies to use when creating their wildflower seed packet butterfly drawing. 
  • Video Device (e.g. laptop, interactive white board, or smartphone) - Show videobooks during the end-of-module Celebration of Learning: Students invite guests to view “Bunnyyarl the Flies and Wurrunnunnah the Bees” videobooks from Unit 1 using a device with video capabilities.

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 school community members or families to share their experiences with gardening/growing plants that attract pollinators.

Experts:

  • Invite a gardener, groundskeeper, or entomologist to visit the class and teach about local wildflower/butterflies.
  • Invite students from the upper grades to come and talk about how they liked to play when they were in second grade and how they learned to share.

Fieldwork:

  • Take small groups of students to search for local wildflowers and butterflies in gardens or natural areas surrounding the school.
  • Take the class to a school or local butterfly garden or nature park/preserve to learn about local wildflowers and butterflies.

Service:

  • Invite students to read grade-level folktales or fable to a younger group of students.

Extensions:

  • Choose a local butterfly to have students draw for the performance task (a wildflower seed packet).
  • Plant a butterfly garden near the school. Invite another class of students (younger or older) to help plant wildflower seeds. 

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