Preparing to Write: Determining Characteristics of the Format | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G4:M2:U3:L1

Preparing to Write: Determining Characteristics of the Format

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These are the CCS Standards addressed in this lesson:

  • W.4.3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
  • W.4.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • W.4.10: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Daily Learning Targets

  • I can determine the characteristics of the "choose-your-own-adventure" format by analyzing an example.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Participation in creation of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Narrative anchor chart (W.4.4)

Agenda

AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Engaging the Reader: Reading Can You Survive the Wilderness? (15 minutes)

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2. Work Time 

A. Revisiting the Performance Task Prompt (10 minutes)

B. Rereading for Format: Can You Survive the Wilderness? (15 minutes)

C. Creating a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Narrative anchor chart (10 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment 

A. Exit Ticket (5 minutes)

4. Homework 

A. Complete Editing for Capitalization, Punctuation, and Spelling I from your homework resources for this unit.

B. Accountable Research Reading. Select a prompt to respond to in the front of your independent reading journal.

Purpose of lesson and alignment to standards:

  • Students begin Unit 3 with a read-aloud from the choose-your-own-adventure mentor text, Can You Survive the Wilderness? This text is used throughout the unit as a model of the choose-your-own-adventure format, and in this lesson it is used as an example for students to examine when understanding and applying the components of a text written in this format (W.4.3). This analysis will support students in writing their own narratives that are appropriate to the task and purpose (W.4.4).
  • Some conclusions in Can You Survive the Wilderness? end in the "death" of the reader. Be sure to read the various endings in this text in advance to ensure that your students will be comfortable with them. If you wish to control the ending students arrive at during the read-aloud so that the reader survives, choose the following paths:
    • Read Chapter 1 and choose the forests of southeastern Australia, turning to page 41. Read pages 41-43 and choose to try to find bird eggs, turning to page 45. Read pages 45-46, choosing to move onto the branch toward the nest, turning to page 54. Read page 54 and choose to build a signal fire, turning to page 67. Read pages 67-69.
    • Read Chapter 1 and choose the Alaskan wilderness, turning to page 11. Read pages 11-13 and choose to strike out in search of help, turning to page 16. Read page 16 and choose to head west away from the mountains, turning to page 22. Read page 22 and choose to stand your ground, turning to page 35. Read pages 35-36. 
  • The research reading students complete for homework will help to build both their vocabulary and knowledge pertaining to animals and specifically animal defense mechanisms. By participating in this volume of reading over a span of time, students will develop a wide base of knowledge about the world and the words that help to describe and make sense of it.
  • Students will have the opportunity to practice their fluency in this lesson by following along and reading silently as you read Can You Survive the Wilderness? aloud in Opening A and Work Time B.
  • Students who finish quickly can read: 'Journey Under the Sea.' Reading is Fundamental. Web. 9 Apr, 2015. Students will need to create a free account to access the digital book
  • In this module, the habit of character focus is working to contribute to a better world. The characteristic they are reminded of in this lesson is: applying my learning through reviewing the performance task.

How it builds on previous work

  • This lesson assumes that students have some basic knowledge of the differences between fiction and nonfiction texts through additional literacy instruction that occurs alongside the module; this may include independent reading, buddy reading, or literature circles. If students are unfamiliar with either, you might wish to teach a mini lesson on fiction versus nonfiction before this lesson.
  • Students revisit their guiding questions and performance task from previous modules to help frame their understanding of where they are in the process of creating the final performance task.
  • Continue to use Goals 1-3 Conversation Cues to promote productive and equitable conversation.

Areas where students may need additional support

  • Because so much of this lesson is discussion-based, students who struggle with oral language and/or auditory processing may need additional support. Consider providing sentence frames for students to refer to during discussions or a note-taking template for students to take notes during discussion.

Assessment Guidance:

  • The creation of the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Narrative anchor chart helps students understand the format of their writing. When students have a good understanding of the expected format, they will be able to ensure that their writing is appropriate to the task and purpose. As students analyze Can You Survive the Wilderness? and create the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Narrative anchor chart, guide discussion toward this understanding.
  • Collect in Coordinating Conjunctions II homework from Unit 2, Lesson 12. See Coordinating Conjunctions II (answers, for teacher reference).

Down the road:

  • When creating the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Narrative anchor chart, students should mention the structures of plot in a narrative: characters, plot, setting, description, dialogue, etc. Do not go into detail in explaining these structures; they are discussed more deeply in Lesson 4.
  • Do not distribute copies of the Performance Task template at this time; students will receive their own copies in Lesson 2.

In Advance

  • Display the Guiding Questions and Performance Task anchor charts.
  • Prepare chart paper for the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Narrative anchor chart.
  • Decide which version of the Performance Task template students will use as they start their writing (see Performance Task Overview). Version 1 is a template that students type into. Version 2 is a template for handwritten publication. (In this lesson, students look at both templates. In Lesson 2, they get their own copies of whichever template you or they select). 
  • Post: Learning targets.

Tech and Multimedia

  • Work Time C, digital anchor chart: Instead of using chart paper, record students' thinking on a class Google Doc for them to refer to when working on their writing outside of class.
  • Closing and Assessment A, digital exit tickets: Students fill out a Google Form or record their thinking on a class Google Doc or Google Spreadsheet. 
  • Closing and Assessment A, audio exit tickets: Students record their ideas in audio through free software or apps such as Audacity or GarageBand.

Supporting English Language Learners

Supports guided in part by CA ELD Standards 4.I.C.11, 4.II.A.1

Important points in the lesson itself

  • The basic design of this lesson supports ELLs by giving them a model of the choose-your-own-adventure format that they will be invited to use themselves.
  • ELLs may find it challenging to shift genres. Explicitly acknowledge that, with this unit, you are shifting genres. Tell ELLs: "In Units 1 and 2, we worked with writing about real animal experiences and science. Now we are going to learn about a different kind of books and writing. We are going to learn about stories that are not real. They are in the writer's imagination. But the writer uses real animal experiences and science to make his imagination seem real. We will write the same way. We will imagine, but we will use real experiences to help. That means we will need two kinds of English also: English that helps us imagine and English that helps us give information." Give them an example of how narrative fiction draws on factual information, such as an armadillo named Arnie who has plated armor to defend himself. 
  • As students put themselves in the shoes of an adventurer in danger, be sensitive to their personal background. Many immigrant families may have experienced recent, life-threatening hardship in the wilderness, and students may suffer from traumas. Create a safe setting in which they can process and share their experiences with if they desire. Be sure to include support from family and seek alternative texts if necessary.

Levels of support

For lighter support:

  • During the Mini Language Dives to help students understand the learning targets and performance task prompts, challenge students to generate questions about the sentences before asking the prepared questions. Example: "What questions can we ask about this sentence? Let's see if we can answer them together."

For heavier support:

  • Review students' vocabulary logs with them. Check to see which categories are most useful. Remove or alter the categories that students don't find useful.
  • Allow students to compare a vocabulary entry and trade information or quiz one another on a random word from their log.
  • Prepare photographs or fictional drawings of a challenge an animal might encounter, e.g., a springbok alert to a tiger.
  • ELLs need to interact with other ELLs and native English speakers to acquire the English language. If students are still quiet or reluctant, reassure and encourage them. Allow them to time to practice speaking with other students on topics that are comfortable and familiar, such as weather, food, or possibly television shows. Give them an object that will help them facilitate conversation, such as a game or brief internet-based project.

Universal Design for Learning

  • Multiple Means of Representation (MMR): After this lesson, support learners with auditory processing needs to find out what they understood from the class discussions today and fill in any gaps in their understanding. You may also consider having a strong note-taking student take notes during the class discussion and share these notes with students with auditory processing needs afterward.
  • Multiple Means of Action & Expression (MMAE): To support students needing extra support with writing, provide models well in advance. Consider meeting with these students before this first lesson to lay the groundwork and help them know what to expect. For some, it will be important to see the big picture early. For others, zeroing in on just one aspect of the performance task at a time will support their needs and help them produce their best writing. It may be helpful to slowly unveil each page of the final performance task for these students. Consider providing a different timeline for these students as a scaffold for writing.
  • Multiple Means of Engagement (MME): Invite students working on fluency to practice reading the bullet points on the Performance Task anchor chart in advance and then call on them to read aloud to the class during this lesson. Giving these students an opportunity for public success will build their confidence and internal motivation.

Vocabulary

Key: (L): Lesson-Specific Vocabulary; (T): Text-Specific Vocabulary; (W): Vocabulary used in writing

  • choose-your-own adventure book, format, task, purpose, audience (L)
  • challenges, encounters (T)

Materials

  • Coordinating Conjunctions II (answers, for teacher reference)
  • Can You Survive the Wilderness? (book; one to display; for teacher read-aloud)
  • Guiding Questions anchor chart (from Unit 1, Lesson 1)
  • Equity sticks
  • Performance Task anchor chart (from Unit 1, Lesson 1)
  • Working to Contribute to a Better World anchor chart (from Unit 1, Lesson 1)
  • Performance Task template (see Performance Task Overview; Version 1 for Typed Publication; one to display)
  • Performance Task template (see Performance Task Overview; Version 2 for Handwritten Publication; one to display)
  • Sticky notes (two per student)
  • Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Narrative anchor chart (new; co-created with students during Work Time C)
  • Index cards (one per student)

Assessment

Each unit in the 3-5 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. 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.

Opening

OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engaging the Reader: Reading Can You Survive the Wilderness? (15 minutes)

  • Congratulate the class for wrapping up Unit 2. Tell students they now have a strong foundation of knowledge about their expert group animal and its defenses and about how writers use research to inform their writing.
  • Collect in Coordinating Conjunctions II homework. See Coordinating Conjunctions II (answers, for teacher reference).
  • Display the cover of Can You Survive the Wilderness? Read the title and author aloud to the class. Ask:

"What do you notice about this book? What do you think it's about? Is it fiction or nonfiction?" 

  • Read the back cover of the book, then ask: 

"Now what do you think this book is about? Is it fiction or nonfiction?"

  • Display the table of contents. Read the chapter titles aloud. Ask and select volunteers to share their responses with the whole group:

"What do you notice about these pages? What do you wonder about these pages?" (The titles are different locations/settings.)

  • Display pages 106-112 ("Real Survivors," "Survival Quiz," Glossary, Bibliography, Index). Ask:

"What do you notice about these pages? What do you wonder about these pages?"

  • Explain that students will use this book as a mentor text throughout this unit. Tell them that a mentor text is an example of good writing.
  • Display pages 5-9 and read them aloud, including the directions at the bottom of pages 7 and 9. Allow students to choose which path to take at the end of page 9. Continue displaying and reading the selected path, reading aloud directions and allowing students to choose the adventure while reading.
  • As you read aloud, ask students what they notice and wonder about the text. Listen for them to notice that the photographs and captions are factual information, and the adventure is realistic fiction.
  • Explain that the book is written in a format commonly called "choose-your-own-adventure." Tell students that they will use this book throughout the unit to learn about writing this type of format for their performance task, a choose-your-own-adventure animal defense narrative. 
  • Explain that today you will read more from this book to learn about this format and that the class will hear more read from this book in the next few lessons. Explain that although they will not have their own copy of the book, they may choose to read it on their own or with a buddy during independent reading.
  • For students who may need additional support with auditory processing needs: Jot key words from the discussion on the board or encourage them to draw or sketch what they hear during the discussion. (MMR)
  • For ELLs: Using their vocabulary log, ELLs can explore spelling and pronouncing aloud, various word forms, synonyms, definitions, translations, collocations (words frequently used together), word clusters, and vocabulary organizers to increase understanding of wilderness, narrative, realistic, choose, and choice. Example:

wilderness; w-i-l-d-e-r-n-e-s-s; great outdoors, forest, desert; a natural place in the environment where other animals live but humans don't; pusztasag; wilderness survival, wilderness travel, wilderness resort

  • For ELLs: To deepen understanding of the words fiction and nonfiction, show students the front and back covers of several fiction and nonfiction books for comparison. Draw a T-chart, eliciting the characteristics of fiction vs. nonfiction.
  • For ELLs: As you read, point to elements in the nonfiction pictures that will help students understand the language in the realistic fiction, e.g., "What does it mean to explore the wilderness? What is the man doing in the picture on page 8?"

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Display the Guiding Questions anchor chart. Use equity sticks to call on a student to read the first question aloud:

"How do animals' bodies and behaviors help them survive?"

  • Use a checking for understanding protocol for students to reflect on their comfort level with answering the question. Make note of students who may need additional support moving forward.
  • Use equity sticks to call on a student to read the second question aloud:

"How can a writer use his or her knowledge on a topic to inform and entertain?"

  • Use a checking for understanding protocol for students to reflect on their comfort level with answering the second guiding question. Make note of students who may need additional support moving forward.
  • Explain that students are probably feeling pretty confident in explaining the first part of that question--how writers use their knowledge of a topic to inform--but perhaps not as confident with the second part, to entertain. 
  • Use equity sticks to call on a student to read the learning target:
  • "I can determine the characteristics of the 'choose-your-own-adventure' format by analyzing an example."
  • Tell students they will focus on the second part of the second guiding question, thinking about how writers use their knowledge of a topic to entertain, by writing a narrative using the choose-your-own-adventure format.
  • For students who may need additional support with language: Discussing and clarifying the language of learning targets helps build academic vocabulary. Give visual learners and students who need support attending to a discussion the opportunity to draw or sketch definitions for key terms in learning targets, such as determine, characteristics, format, and analyzing. It may also benefit these students to act out some of these terms or list similar words/synonyms for these terms to support their understanding. (MMR)
  • For ELLs: Give students an example of how they, as writers, can use their knowledge on a topic to inform. Point to pictures of an expert animal defense mechanism and ask questions such as: "What information do you know about the armadillo's armor? Can you write this information? What happens if someone reads your writing?"
  • For ELLs: Mini Language Dive. Highlight and discuss language structures that are critical to understanding the learning targets. Examples: determine the characteristics, by analyzing an example. Work on comprehension of these structures, for example, by eliciting paraphrases of these structures and asking questions such as: "What's another word for determine? What are the characteristics of an informational piece? If we analyze an example of a choose-your-own-adventure story, what can we learn?

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Revisiting the Performance Task Prompt (10 minutes)

  • Remind students that whenever they write, they need to consider the task, purpose, and audience for their writing.
  • Display the Performance Task anchor chart (from Unit 1, Lesson 1) and remind students that they are working toward writing a narrative during this module. Point to the second bullet point of the prompt ("an informational page ...") and the sixth bullet point ("two sketches ...") on the anchor chart. Remind students they have completed these parts of their performance task already.
  • Point to the remaining bullet points. Explain that they will work on these parts of the performance task in this unit.
  • Focus students on the Working to Contribute to a Better World anchor chart, specifically apply my learning. Remind students that as they will be applying what they learned through creating the performance task.
  • Circle the phrase choose-your-own adventure book. Explain that students will discuss the format for this type of book later in the lesson.
  • Use equity sticks to call on a student to read the third, fourth, and fifth bullet points of the prompt aloud:
    • "A setting-the-stage page explaining how to read the book and the possible challenges your animal could encounter (in question form)"
    • "An introduction to your narrative describing the challenge your animal encounters and two choices (defense mechanisms) it could make to survive"
    • "A page for each choice (defense mechanism) describing the experience or events showing how your animal responds to the choice"
  • Ask and cold call students to share their responses:

"Based on the anchor chart, how will your writing be organized?" (It will have a beginning, middle, and two different endings.)

"Based on the anchor chart, who will be your audience?" (Other students, teachers, and parents will read our writing.)

"What will be the purpose for your writing?" (to teach our audience about our animal's defense mechanisms and to entertain our readers)

  • Display each page of the Performance Task template. Answer any clarifying questions for each page.
  • For students who may need additional support with writing: Some may benefit from seeing the entire project early, but others may be overwhelmed and benefit from focusing on just one aspect at a time. Consider when to unveil expectations of these students. (MMAE, MME)
  • For ELLs: Mini Language Dive. Highlight and discuss language structures that are critical to understanding the prompts. Examples: describing the challenge your animal encounters. Work on comprehension of these structures, for example, by eliciting paraphrases of these structures, showing pictures of an animal encounter and asking questions such as: "What does encounter mean? You can look it up in your dictionary. Describe a dangerous experience your expert group animal can have with a predator. Tell me all the important characteristics in that encounter. So, what will you write in your introduction?"
  • For ELLs: Allow students to add new terms, such as task, purpose, audience, format, adventure, setting the stage, challenges, introduction, encounter, and responds to their vocabulary logs.

B. Rereading for Format: Can You Survive the Wilderness? (15 minutes)

  • Explain that before students begin writing their own choose-your-own adventure narratives, they need to understand how the choose-your-own adventure format is different from other narratives. Tell students this will help them be sure their writing is appropriate to the given task. 
  • Invite students to turn and talk and select volunteers to share their responses:

"What do I mean by the format of the book?" (The format is how the book is organized or structured.)

  • Tell students that you will reread pages 5-9 aloud, choosing the same path as earlier in the lesson. As you read aloud, they should think about what they notice and wonder about the choose-your-own-adventure format. Distribute two sticky notes to each student and invite them to write down what they notice on one sticky note and what they wonder on the other.
  • Display and read aloud pages 5-9 and continue reading, following the path used in the opening. Pause after each paragraph so students can record their notes. If necessary, prompt by asking: "What makes this format different from other books you have read?" or "What questions do you have about the format of this book?" 
  • Clarify the format of the text as needed. Emphasize that the book has multiple options for an ending, depending on what choice the reader makes.
  • For students who may need additional support with organizing their ideas in writing: Write sentence frames in advance on their sticky notes. (Examples: "This is different from other books I've read. It has...." and "I don't understand ... about this book.") (MMAE)
  • For ELLs: Allow students to discuss and alter their notes during pauses.
  • For ELLs: After the rereading, ask students: "How is a choose-your-own-adventure format different from other narrative formats?"

C. Creating a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Narrative anchor chart (10 minutes)

  • Begin a new Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Narrative anchor chart. Underneath the title, write: "A text written in the choose-your-own-adventure format ..." Ask:

"What did you notice about the format of Can You Survive the Wilderness?"

  • Give students a moment to think and review their notes. Then use equity sticks to select students to share their thinking. Record their responses and add your own as necessary.
  • The chart should contain formatting points about the text--for example, that it:
    • Is written in the second-person point of view ("you")
    • Has the reader take on the role of the adventurer
    • Is interactive
    • Presents the protagonist (the reader) with a choice after a couple of pages, which leads to two or more paths and eventually to two or more endings
    • Is realistic fiction/narrative based on facts and research; includes characters, plot, setting, problem/resolution, description, dialogue
  • Tell students that their narratives will be written in this format and that they will refer to this anchor chart throughout the unit.
  • If productive, cue students to think about their thinking. Ask and use equity sticks to select students to share their responses:

"How does examining the format of this choose-your-own-adventure help us when writing our own narratives? I'll give you time to think and discuss with a partner." (ensure writing follows the same format, which will help writing be appropriate to the task)

  • For students who may need additional support with comprehension: Give examples from Can You Survive the Wilderness? of each characteristic of the choose-your-own-adventure format. Example: Point to the three choices on page 9 as an example of presenting the protagonist with a choice. (MMR)

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Exit Ticket (5 minutes)

  • Gather students. Ask them to assess themselves on the learning target: "I can determine the characteristics of the 'choose-your-own-adventure' format by analyzing an example."
  • Distribute index cards and have them record their name and reflect and respond to the following:
    • Front: "Did you meet the learning targets? What is your evidence?"
    • Back: "What is one idea you have for your narrative, or one thing you are excited about for this performance task?"
  • Use a checking for understanding protocol (for example Red Light, Green Light or Thumb-O-Meter) for students to self-assess how well they applied their learning in this lesson.
  • For students who may need additional support with organizing ideas for written expression: Give students sentence starters when responding on their exit tickets. (Examples: "I met the learning target because I ..." or "One idea I have for my narrative is....") (MMAE)
  • For ELLs: Allow students to discuss their responses before writing on their exit ticket.

Homework

HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs

Homework

A. Complete Editing for Capitalization, Punctuation, and Spelling I from your homework resources for this unit.

B. Accountable Research Reading. Select a prompt to respond to in the front of your independent reading journal.

  • For students needing reading and writing support and ELLs struggling with the homework, underline the errors in the homework and allow students to correct them. Alternatively, provide them with the correct version and the error-ridden version and allow them to identify the differences. (MMAE, MME)
  • For ELLs: For all homework assignments in this unit, read the prompts aloud. Students can discuss and respond to prompts orally, either with you, a partner, family member, or student from Grades 1 or 2, or record an audio response. If students have trouble writing sentences, they can begin by writing words. Consider providing a sentence starter or inviting students who need lighter support to provide sentence starters.

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