Mystery Word | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA GK:S2:C9:L48

Mystery Word

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can identify the name and sound for the letters "u," "q," and "x."
    • 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 one letter 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 count the number of words in the poem.
    • 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: "a"

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: "A Fox and a Quail in the Rain" (or write 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, frequently, mystery word (L)

Materials

  • Enlarged poem: "A Fox and a Quail in the Rain" (or handwritten on chart paper to display; from Lesson 47)
  • Large pointer (optional; for teacher to point to words in poem as the class recites)
  • Articulatory Gestures chart (enlarged version to post; from Lesson 45)
  • Hand mirrors (optional; one per student or pair to see mouth movements)
  • Poetry notebooks (one per student; see Teaching Notes)
  • Poem: "A Fox and a Quail in the Rain" (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: "A Fox and a Quail in the Rain" once or twice, pointing to each word as he or she reads it (with a finger or a pointer).

2. Teacher invites students to watch his or her mouth when he or she says the sound for the keyword from the poem: "/q/ for quail."

3. Teacher models the articulatory gesture for /q/, referencing the Articulatory Gesture chart.

4. Teacher asks:

"What do you notice about the way my mouth looks when I say the sound /kw/?" (back of tongue is humped, lips are in a circle)

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

6. Student volunteers share with an elbow partner or whisper into their hands what they noticed when they said the /kw/ sound. (It started in the back of my throat and then went to my lips.)

7. Teacher repeats steps 2-6, with /ks/ for "fox" and then /u/ for "umbrella."

8. Teacher reminds students of the other two vowels and their sounds learned to this point: "a" (/a/) and "i" (/i/), and invites students to feel the difference between the way their mouths and tongues move when making each of those sounds.

  • 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.
  • Consider asking students to notice the similarity and difference between the /ks/ ("x") and /kw/ ("q") sounds; both start with the tongue humped at the back of the throat, making the sharp /k/ sound. The /ks/ ends with the mouth closed, while the /kw/ ends with the lips rounded.
  • 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: "The mystery word has one letter in it."

2. Teacher asks:

"Can you find any words with one letter in it?" ("a")

3. Students refer to their poetry notebooks to search their copies of the poem: "A Fox and a Quail in the Rain" individually or with a partner. Students point to a word that they think has just one letter in it.

4. Teacher chooses a student volunteer to say or point to which word has one letter in it. Teacher points underneath each "a" and counts the number of letters aloud.

5. Teacher reads the poem again and says: "Clap your hands each time I say that word with one letter in it."

6. Teacher reads poem as students clap.

7. Teacher says: "Wow! You clapped nine times. There are nine words that have one letter in them."

8. Teacher asks:

"What is this mystery word?" ("a")

9. Teacher says: "I think we've figured it out. But ... there is something funny about this mystery word. Let's see if we can be detectives and figure it out."

B. Mystery Word: “a”

  • (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: “Now, we are going to use more clues about this strange mystery word. Listen carefully as I read the first two lines in the poem.”

2. Teacher reads the first two lines while pointing, pronouncing /ā/ when pointing to and saying the word “a” in both lines.

3. Teacher says: “Now listen carefully while I read it again. Listen for a difference.”

4. Teacher reads the first two lines again while pointing, pronouncing /u/ when pointing to and saying the word “a” in both lines.

5. Teacher asks:

“What did you notice?” (“a” was pronounced /ā/ the first time and /u/ the second.)

6. Teacher explains that the word “a” can be pronounced /ā/ or /u/.

7. Teacher pauses dramatically and says: “Wait a minute! I thought we just learned that the letter ‘u’ makes the sound /u/!”

8. Teacher says: “It’s true. But that ‘a’ can be funny when it’s all by itself in a sentence. Whenever you see ‘a’ all by itself in a sentence, you can either pronounce it /ā/ or /u/.”

9. Teacher invites the students to read the poem aloud twice, once pronouncing /ā/ when reading “a” and once pronouncing /u/ when reading “a.”

10. Teacher says: “This is an important word you will practice. Whenever you see the letter all by itself in a sentence, remember that you can either say the letter name /ā/, or you can say /u/.”

  • Observe students as they search the poem. Make sure they practice the left-to-right sweep. Encourage them to use their pointer finger 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 'q,' how can we remember the sound it makes?" (Think about the "quail" or about how the tongue starts out humped and then the lips get round.)

"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 'umbrella,' 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 a 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, 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 "a" in their copy of the poem: "A Fox and a Quail in the Rain."
    • 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: "A Fox and a Quail in the Rain"
    • 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 all instances of "a" they find in the poem and record them.
    • Students write a story using the word "a" as many times as they can, reinforcing the idea that "a" is a high-frequency word used often by authors to communicate ideas.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Poetry notebook or copy of poem: "A Fox and a Quail in the Rain"
    • Lined writing paper and a writing utensil

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