Mystery Word | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA GK:S2:C7:L38

Mystery Word

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can identify the name and sound for the letters "d," "f," and "l." I can identify the name of each lowercase letter.
    • I can identify the name of each uppercase letter.
    • I can look at each consonant and say its sound.
  • Work Time A: I can search in a text (poem) and find a word with three letters in it.
    • I can count the number of letters in a word.
  • Work Time B: I can use clues from the text (poem) to identify a mystery word.
    • I can count the number of letters in a word.
    • I can point to words in the poem.
    • I can recognize and read many high-frequency words in a text and in isolation (alone).

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during the Opening.
    • Determine whether they can say the sounds for each letter correctly. Refer to the Articulatory Gestures chart as needed.
    • Also determine whether they can demonstrate one-to-one correspondence with words.
  • Record students' progress on the Snapshot Assessment.

Agenda

Agenda

1. Opening (5 minutes)

A. Poem: Articulatory Gestures

2. Work Time (10-15 minutes)

A. Clues to the Mystery Word

B. Mystery Word: "and"

3. Closing and Assessment (2 minutes)

A. Reflecting on Learning

4. Differentiated Small Group Instruction and Rotations (40-45 minutes)

In Advance

  • Prepare:
    • Enlarged poem: "An Afternoon Swim" (or write it on chart paper/poster)
    • Poetry notebooks: Each student needs a spiral or composition book with a copy of the poem glued or taped inside, or else a loose copy of the poem in a plastic sleeve
    • Hand mirrors (optional; one per student or pair to see mouth movements)
    • Snapshot Assessment (optional; one per student)
  • Gather materials for differentiated small group instruction (see Differentiated Small Groups: Work with Teacher).

Vocabulary

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

  • clues, contain, frequently, mystery word (L)

Materials

  • Enlarged poem: "An Afternoon Swim" (or handwritten on chart paper to display; from Lesson 36)
  • Large pointer (optional; for teacher to point to words in poem as the class recites)
  • Articulatory Gestures chart (enlarged version to post; from Lesson 36)
  • Hand mirrors (optional; one per student or pair to see mouth movements)
  • Poetry notebooks (one per student; see Teaching Notes)
  • Poem: "An Afternoon Swim" (one per student in poetry notebooks)
  • Snapshot Assessment (optional; one per student)

Opening

OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Poem: Articulatory Gestures

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot"):

"Now let's say the letters that we know. Think of the sounds and go, go, go. Open up your mouth big and wide. Sometimes your breath comes from deep inside. As we say the letters we will know. Our letter sound skills will grow, grow, grow!"

  • Begin the Poem: Articulatory Gestures instructional practice:

1. Teacher reads the Enlarged poem: "An Afternoon Swim" once or twice, pointing to each word as he or she reads it (with a finger or pointer).

2. Teacher says: "We've been practicing saying and writing the letters 'd,' 'f,' and 'l.' Today, we are going to concentrate on the way our mouths look when we say the letter sounds."

3. Teacher says: "Watch my mouth as I say the sound /d/ for 'dog.'"

4. Teacher models the articulatory gesture for /d/, referencing the Articulatory Gestures chart.

5. Teacher asks:

"What do you notice about the way my mouth looks when I say the sound /d/?" (tongue blade pushes from roof of mouth downward)

6. Teacher says: "Great! Now it's your turn to try making the /d/ sound with your mouth."

7. Students make the sound, noticing how it feels in their mouths (and how it looks in hand mirrors, if using).

8. Teacher asks:

"What did you notice when you said the /d/ sound?" (My tongue pushed down as the sound came out of my mouth.)

9. Teacher repeats steps 3-7 with /f/ for "flamingo" and /l/ for "lion."

  • To provide support or practice with left-to-right directionality and one-to-one matching, consider inviting individual students to approach the enlarged poem and point to the words as the class chorally recites.
  • Consider providing students with hand mirrors to watch their mouths as they make each sound.
  • Invite students to notice how their teeth hold on to their bottom lips as they push air out when making the /f/ sound.
  • Invite students to notice how their tongues stay touching the roofs of their mouths just behind the teeth when making the /l/ sound.
  • Observe students as they make each articulatory gesture. If needed, provide feedback to help shape their mouths correctly.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Clues to the Mystery Word

  • Begin the Clues to the Mystery Word instructional practice:

1. Teacher says: "High-frequency words are words that authors use a lot in their writing. We know that our poem has one of these words, but we don't know which word it is, so we called it a 'mystery word.' Today, we are going to use clues to try to figure out the mystery word. Listen for each clue so we can work together to figure out the word."

2. Teacher says: "The mystery word has three letters in it. I see 'day' has three letters."

3. Teacher points underneath "day" and counts the number of letters aloud.

4. Teacher asks:

"Can you find any other words with three letters?" (Students call out various words from poem.)

5. Students refer to their poetry notebooks to search their copies of the poem: "An Afternoon Swim" individually or with a partner. Students point to a word that they think has three letters in it.

6. Teacher chooses a student volunteer to say or point to which words have three letters in them.

7. Teacher points underneath each word and counts the number of letters aloud.

8. Teacher reads the poem again.

9. Teacher says: "Clap your hands each time I say a word with three letters in it."

10. Teacher reads the poem as students clap.

11. Teacher says: "Wow! You clapped a LOT! There are 27 words that have three letters. I wonder which word is the mystery word. Now we will find out."

B. Mystery Word: "and"

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of "Three Blind Mice"):

"Let's solve the mystery, let's solve the mystery. Clue by clue, clue by clue. The clues will tell you what to do. To make the word become clearer to you. We'll know the word; we'll figure it out. Clue by clue, clue by clue."

  • Begin the Mystery Word instructional practice:

1. Teacher says: "We have been trying to figure out what the mystery word in this poem is. So far, we know it's a three-letter word that's used frequently, or a lot, in this poem."

2. Teacher says: "Now, we are going to use more clues to find out what the mystery word is. This mystery word contains the letter 'a.'"

3. Teacher asks:

"Can you find any three-letter words that contain an 'a'?"

4. Students look through their copies of the poem individually or with a partner. Students turn to an elbow partner and point to the word they think is the mystery word.

5. Teacher calls on a student to share an idea.

6. Teacher asks:

"You think the mystery word might be 'day'? Let's check."

7. Teacher points to the word and checks to see if it contains the letter "a."

8. Teacher says: "Yes, the word 'day' has a letter 'a.' Let's listen for the next clue to see if it could be 'day.'"

9. Teacher says: "The next clue for our mystery word: This word ends with the /d/ sound. So now we know the mystery word has three letters, contains a letter 'a,' and ends with the /d/ sound."

10. Teacher asks:

"Who thinks they know what the mystery word could be?"

11. Teacher says: "Wow! 'And' might be the mystery word. Remember, the mystery word is a high-frequency word, which means it is in our poem several times. Let's count the times we see 'and' in our poem."

12. Teacher and students count how many times the word appears. Teacher circles the word each time it's counted.

13. Teacher says: "So now we know 'and' is in our poem six times. Let's check our clues to see if it is our mystery word."

14. Teacher asks:

"Does it have three letters?" (yes)

"Does it contain the letter 'a'?" (yes)

"Does it end with the /d/ sound?" (yes)

15. Teacher says: "Yes! 'and' is the mystery word because it has three letters, contains the letter 'a,' ends in the /d/ sound, and is in our poem six times! Great detective work to find our mystery word!"

16. Teacher says (with drama): "Wait a minute! The letter 'a' is a vowel, and remember how we've mentioned that all words have at least one vowel in them?! The word 'and' has the vowel 'a' in it!"

17. Teacher says: "This is an important word you are going to practice. Whenever you see the word 'and,' you can remember how we figured out our mystery word today!"

  • Observe students as they search the poem. Make sure they practice the left-to-right sweep. Encourage them to use their pointer fingers to underline words as they search.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reflecting on Learning

  • Emphasize that successful learners think about what they've learned and why it's important. Consider using a metaphor, such as a baseball player learning to keep his or her eye on the ball to know exactly when to hit it.
  • Ask:

"When we see the letter 'l,' how can we remember the sound it makes?" (Think about how our mouths look when we say the sound: tongue touching the roof of mouth just behind the teeth.)

"How will that help us with reading or writing?" (Responses will vary.)

  • For students who need additional support organizing their ideas: Provide sentence frames. Example:
    • "When I said the word 'fish,' I _____."

Differentiated Small Groups: Work with Teacher

Suggested Plan: Teacher works with the Pre-Alphabetic and Early Partial Alphabetic groups. Teacher may meet briefly with the Late Partial and Early Full Alphabetic groups to get them started on independent work.

Note: Groups not working with the teacher at a given time should be engaged in purposeful independent rotation work. Refer to the Independent and Small Group Work guidance document (see K-2 Skills Resource Manual) for more details.

Pre-Alphabetic:

  • Practice activity: Teacher leads students in a Letter-Picture Sound Identification Matching Memory game.
    • Teacher cuts apart Letter-Picture Match Cards.
    • Teacher places all cards facedown on a flat surface.
    • Students turn over two cards at a time, looking for a match (letter matching a picture with that beginning sound).
    • Teacher encourages student to say the name of the letter each time and the name of the picture, identifying the first sound.
    • Student tells the teacher if the picture and letter match. If they match, the student keeps the pair of cards.
    • Repeat until all cards have been matched.
  • Alternative practice activity: Teacher leads students in a Letter/Name Matching activity.
    • Students are given a stack of Student Name Cards with their classmates' names and Alphabet Cards.
    • Students match the beginning letter of each name to the matching Letter Card. Repeat until all names and letters are matched.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Letter-Picture Match Cards (one set)
    • Student Name Cards (teacher-created)

Early Partial Alphabetic:

  • Practice activity: Teacher guides students in a Mystery Word Search and Rainbow Write.
    • Students find the word "and" in their copies of the poem: "An Afternoon Swim."
    • Students circle the word every time they see it.
    • Students practice writing the word in different colors with colored markers, crayons, or colored pencils.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Poetry notebook or copy of poem: "An Afternoon Swim"
    • Writing tools (for Rainbow Write; colored pencils, crayons, markers)
    • Lined writing paper (for Rainbow Write)

Late Partial and Early Full Alphabetic:

  • Practice activity: Students complete a Mystery Word Write.
    • Students count appearances of the word "and" they find and record.
    • Students write a story using the word "and" as many times as they can, reinforcing the idea that "and" is a high-frequency word used often by authors to communicate ideas.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Poetry notebook or copy of poem: "An Afternoon Swim"
    • Lined writing paper and writing 

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