Content Area Teaching Ideas Assignment
Content Area: Literacy
Part I: Research on What Exists
1 & 2
The first lesson plan comes from readwritethink, a website that provides language arts resources for educators and teachers for grades K-12. This lesson is geared towards grades 3 to 5. This is the introductory lesson in a series of 6 sessions in a unit on descriptive adjectives, but I will be focusing on the first session. The lesson aims and definition of what an adjective is and how it functions to make writing more interesting and create visual word pictures is clearly defined in the introductory phase of the lesson. The teacher models two different sentences, one with less descriptive words and a second with more vivid descriptive adjectives, highlighting the use of synonyms to broaden the use of adjectives. Next, the students read Apples by Gail Gibbons, a book that depicts the outside and inside of apples. Students are guided to focus on the appearance of the apples in preparation for the next step in the lesson. The class is then divided into small groups with a whole and a cut apple and given 15 minutes to brainstorm adjectives using their 5 senses to describe the apple inside and out with a handout. The class then regroups and reports back on their adjectives. Through discussion questions, the teacher reiterates that the words they have listed are adjectives and highlights their importance. Questions for discussion include practical applications such as “how might adjectives be used in driving directions?” and “in what other ways might adjectives be useful?” The subsequent lessons follow a similar pattern of eliciting adjectives from objects students observe or from books (and in the next step synonyms stemming from the adjectives previously generated), recording the information and collaborating with groups and ultimately reporting back to the class. Both of the final formative assessments are written: students write a form poem and rewrite a literary passage from the book of their choice, replacing the original adjectives with better, more descriptive adjectives.
Differentiation does not appear in the introductory portion of the lesson plan. At the start of the lesson assessing the varying levels of student readiness, skills, talents and levels is not addressed. Assessing and activating previous knowledge with a pre-assessment activity would have been useful to understand previous knowledge and differentiate accordingly. I may have used the discussion questions as a hook to engage students and assess previous knowledge of vocabulary at the start of the lesson. Understanding/reminding students of the vocabulary for the 5 senses is a critical piece for descriptive adjectives and students are expected to utilize them in their descriptions, yet the lesson doesn’t. Following pre-assessment activities, I would have differentiated accordingly, for example, for the reading portions providing graded readers for students reading below grade level and more advanced students could read more complex materials. Flexible grouping could have also been used to differentiate according to readiness.
The lesson uses flexible grouping according to interest in a later session of the unit where students can choose their books and work with others who chose similar books, but apart from this instance grouping appears to be arbitrary. Students who struggle with written or spoken language could be grouped together and given more time to brainstorm and perhaps a word list, other supports to get the process started and may need additional time to complete each step of the process or perhaps different activities as well. The product is primarily demonstrated through written work. I would give students the choice to explore adjectives through other avenues, such as an oral presentation to demonstrate what they had learned. Furthermore, there was no refection piece where students self-assess their understanding of the topics; only the teacher performs ongoing assessment and monitoring. To wrap up the lesson I may have incorporated a Frayer Diagram to develop understanding where they provide a definition, list characteristics and provide examples and non-examples.
This lesson plan comes from the Alabama Learning Exchange, a website from the Alabama Department of Education that provides online learning assets for teachers, parents and students that align with Alabama content standards. It is geared towards 2nd to 3rd graders. The lesson begins with direct teaching as the teacher informs the students they will to learn about adjectives, but tells them they will have to determine the meaning themselves from the subsequent activity. A student then comes to the front of the room to pick an unknown object from a bag and describe what they feel. The rest of the class guesses what the object is from the bag and the process continues until all objects have been identified. As the students use adjectives, the teacher records them on the board along with the objects. The teacher then asks students to individually write a definition of what an adjective might be with teacher help and monitoring. Once students have a good working definition of what an adjective is they practice identifying them on the Select-a-Word website, which requires them to identify adjectives and also where the words go. Next, the students write a brief story using at least 10 adjectives and share their stories with the entire class. Once everyone has shared their stories, students exchange papers and highlight the adjectives in each other’s stories. As a possible extension activity students can use a writing prompt taken from Read-Think-Talk to write about character traits using adjectives.
The lesson overall is teacher directed, rather than centering on students respective needs, grouping and is unclear as to how they will evaluate themselves and be evaluated throughout the lesson. No pre-assessment is indicated, and in the first activity only one student is engaged at a time to describe an object while the teacher writes the adjectives on the board. This is not likely to engage all learners as it leaves room for students who already know what an adjective is to get bored and those who don’t fully understand the adjectives being used to get lost. I might assess the extent to which students can identify adjectives through Think-Ink-Pair-Share perhaps by choosing 4 classroom objects and having students choose 1 object to describe and commit their adjectives to paper and then have them work in groups according to interest (the object they choose) and compile adjectives on a given topic and then share with the class as a whole. Furthermore, the lesson does not indicate how the students would go about defining an adjective and it is implied that this would be done individually with the teacher aiding in coming up with a definition. Although at the end of the lesson plan there are links with general suggestions for differentiating and scaffolding for ability and other learning and behavioral issues, it does not indicate how it would be directly applied to this lesson. I believe when students go about defining what an adjective is differentiating and flexible grouping would be advisable. I might engage critical thinking skills to elicit the definition of an adjective by asking, how do adjectives help our writing?
Varied and ongoing assessment is not mentioned. It is not indicated how the teacher will assess progress other than through assessing the computer game and final narrative for accuracy. The computer program does not indicate why students got answers wrong and may not be an effective tool at this point to reinforce the concept. Additionally, students do not have any handouts for reference, which could guide them as they complete the computer activities. As this is the introductory stage of the lesson, I would say making this a paper based activity or allowing the students the option to do so could be helpful.
The final writing task in the lesson leaves the door open for many opportunities to differentiate. Due to the range of abilities that characteristically present especially in writing tasks, I feel pre-assessment (perhaps from previous writing) and differentiation by ability would be a necessity for this portion. To write a story modeling and think alouds could provide additional support for all students. For those experiencing difficulties, the teacher could provide adjective lists to help generate vocabulary as well as a graphic organizer or story outline to aid in organization of the story. Finally, students are directed to share their stories, which could prove difficult. I would offer a “menu style” of choice to display what they had learned. Lastly, students could hand in their writing for teacher review prior to peer review and publishing so they would have the chance to correct their writing themselves and reflect on the concept.
The third lesson is designed for 2nd to 4th graders and comes from a resource bank of lesson plans and materials centered on teaching to common core concepts. In the first activity, the teacher writes a sentence and elicits the definition of an adjective and illustrates how adjectives make writing better. Students then look at a picture and come up with adjectives that describe the picture as a class, highlighting the different functions of adjectives. As a class, students read a paragraph and come up individually to put boxes around the adjectives. They are then put into groups to brainstorm, adjectives for pictures and then share them as a class. As a class they make a chart to classify adjective: to describe people, food, positive adjectives, negative adjectives and classroom object adjectives. Next, the groups are given pictures and write applicable adjectives around them. Finally, students are given the choice for independent practice to write about their favorite food, describe themselves, make a list of classroom objects and describe them or make an acrostic poem of an occupation with adjectives describing that job (CHEF, Careful, Helpful, Energetic, Friendly). The final lesson wrap up concludes with students writing a note card with one adjective on one side and one non-adjective on the other.
Though there is some differentiation with product in terms of choosing different kinds of writing it experiences differentiation deficits in many of the regards mentioned in the above lessons for content, product, process, pre-assessment and more reflection and wrap up at the end. It seems the students compile a lot of information, but it isn’t quite clear how they will really activate their knowledge individually during the lesson.
Overview Lessons 1-3:
All three lessons approach teaching adjectives with a similar approach. Rather than sparking student interest with a critical question or another “hook” the teacher starts by stating the objective and defining what an adjective is. Students activate their knowledge with group, pair or individualized tasks based on text, visual or physical prompts. All three culminate in a final written assessment.
Pre-assessment is not included nor is previous knowledge actively considered in designing differentiated product, process, content or flexible grouping. This could be easily achieved as adjectives and students varying understanding and ability to understand and use and demonstrate this lends a variety of ways to customize the learning experience. Activities that the whole group could be more selective. Small group work could be determined by prior knowledge and thus a range of tasks that that could vary according to content, pace and complexity as mentioned above. Ongoing assessment throughout the lesson as well as feedback from the teacher and also peers could also factored in as students review each others work or hand in work in varying stages of the lesson. Not all students may be strong writers so they could write, present or diagram to show they understood the information. Plenary activities and reflection after what has been learned is also a piece that is missing in all three lessons.
3. Core Concepts Graphic Organizer
Part II, New Teaching Trend
Teaching adjectives and other grammar points that students may already have knowledge of does not have to be limited to teachers explicitly giving a definition of the concept, as is the case at the second or third grade level with parts of speech. I will address this age group, which has assumably had exposure to adjectives without formally identifying them as such. My “new” approach would exploit the use of the flipped classroom trend (students are shown a video to gain exposure to review the concept of an adjective outside of class). I would like to infuse this with applying the trend of catering to metacognitive practices i.e. “the monitoring and control of thought” (Martinez, 2006) and differentiated learning.
- Prior to giving the video I would pose the question “what is an adjective?” and then give a You Tube video clarifying what an adjective is for homework.
- Using a quiz maker like quiz star with which I could get reports on student responses, I would incorporate pictures and words from the video to test whether students have a general idea as to how to identify adjectives. Students who had not done it at home could do it in class.
- Based on evaluations from at home assignment place in small groups.
- The lesson would start with the questions: “what is an adjective?” and “what isn’t an adjective?” Use Think-Ink-Pair-Share cooperative discussion strategy for students to make observations and then analyze information. First students take a moment to internalize content. Then they write down their answers. Using designated partners, students discuss answer each has developed. They compare their mental or written notes and identify the answers they think are best, most convincing, or most unique to share with the class engaging their skills of evaluation.
- Together record different adjectives from the class on SMARTboard.
- Give out handout with directed questions (that will not be answered because there are no adjectives)! Using www.xtranormal.com website create a digital story that has no adjectives.
- While watching the video the student will be looking for answers like: What kind of wallet? (The video says I have a wallet). How many students? (The video says there are students).
- Elicit what kind of words are missing, i.e. adjectives. What effect do adjectives have on writing? What kind of things to adjectives describe? Think-Ink-Pair-Share in groups according to ability to derive answers and share with class.
- Have students use the adjectives from previous activity on the SMARTboard or from their imagination to answer questions.
- Handout outlines with sentences from the script (differentiated according to level with more or fewer sentences) and have them write their own scripts with adjectives using the skeletons. More advanced students can write their entire own script.
- Using rubrics that engage students in discussion and reflection, have pairs identify and evaluate positive elements of writing and “room to grow” areas.
- Teacher monitors and questions throughout lesson to formatively assess, give support/feedback as needed and plan for future lessons.
- Wrap up questions revisit the lesson objectives and require that students think about the lesson. What is an adjective? What kind of questions do they answer? How can we use adjectives to make our writing better?
- Peak student interest for future learning by telling them they will create their own digital stories from their writing after we learn more about descriptive adjectives in the next lesson.
- blog reflection (written or voice recording) on: what we knew, what we learned and what we want to learn next.
- complete video based for plenary activities from blubbr.tv
Part II, New Teaching Trend
- You Tube Video that describes an adjective
- Online pre-assessment quiz – quizstar.4teachers.org
- Adjective free digital story – www.xtranormal.com
- Student handouts
- directed questions to elicit adjectives
- script outlines/skeletons
- rubric for peer evaluation
- video based quiz from blubbr.tv