Saturday, February 1, 2014

Time to Pass it On! Text Features Are Coming Out of Our Ears

Is anyone else having moments of realization?  You know...those kind that us teachers get this time of year when we stop and realize it is that time of the year.  The big bad test is just around the corner and we have to shove all kinds of standards in to a period of time the size of my pinky nail?!  Please tell me I am not the only one who keeps having these little moments of insanity during the school day.

I had so much fun sharing what I did in my classroom to help my students engage in fact and opinion learning so I really wanted to keep this momentum going and pass on another lesson that worked well again.  

We needed to cover both text features (or organizational features...I hate that they have different names depending on who you ask) and reference sources within a pretty short amount of time.  This means, I had to find a way to give my kids the biggest bang for their buck.  So, I took to a little bit of Google to help me in my time of teaching need.

I stumbled upon an old pin, a dead I had to scramble to Google to find a similar idea and thankfully I found a couple strategies I could easily implement and adapt to my group of kids and our experiences.

Miss Bonger had an extensive blog post HERE.  Take a look at the post if you want to scroll through. But what I took from it (mainly the anchor chart graphic organizer and the examples tacked to charts) and tweaked for my kids is what you can see below.  And I hope you are able to take what you see and bring it in to your classroom for your students!!  

So, because I hate throwing so much vocabulary at my kids all at once...I separated it into 2 days...because when I'm bored, they are bored!  We put a graphic organizer/anchor chart together and students wrote their own in their reading notebooks (via Miss Bonger's post).

Each time we added a reference source to the anchor chart, my kids had to go on a hunt for the reference source in our Social Studies textbook or our Reading basal textbook.  I wanted them to also be able to explain how they knew what they found was that particular reference source as well as share a piece of information they gained from the source.  This was extremely successful and the kids really liked the short chunks of boring vocabulary mixed with quick bursts of hunting and discussing.  It kept us all sane. also helped to stand up and create a TPR (total physical response) motion for each source.  I wish I could post a video of us doing all of them.  They were hilarious!

On the third day of our reference sources lesson, I put together an anchor chart for each reference source with the definitions we had discussed in the previous days, with examples copied from different nonfiction texts in our classroom, and several scavenger hunt questions at the bottom (I tried to include higher-level thinking questions when possible) and posted them around our classroom.  

Hey...the more I can get my kids out of their seats, the better.  The idea was to have them use the reference sources in order to read and understand information!  I stamped this one as a big success as well!  

Since we have to conserve paper at our school, I try to use as few copies as possible.  I did a quick model of how I wanted students to record information using our ActivBoard...and our bulb is almost dead from so much use each day.  My students were away on their scavenger hunt for up to an hour during the next 2 days.  I walked around and visited with students to ask them a few questions about information they were locating and learning from.  I tried to check in and see if they could tell me why the particular reference source was useful as well.  

By the end of our 4-day scavenger hunt and trek, my kids made Me Reference sources.  This was an idea I found via Google.  If you'd like to take a look for yourself at Sarah's original blog post, you can find it HERE.  Again, to save paper, I had students make their own pages in their notebooks.  They just had to follow a sort of template I placed up on our board.  The pages also included areas for text features to enhance the information on each page of their Me Reference sources.

The covers were pretty fun to look at because of how creative they got with their selfies.

Just like any reference source students use, they had to create a Table of Contents (as short as it was)

One of the pages I liked reading the most were their encyclopedia entires since I learned a large variety of facts about my students I may not have known before.  Within the different reference sources, I also asked them to use text features we had already studied as well.  If they included an illustration or photo, it had to have a caption.  All of the entires (except the atlas) had to also have guide words at the top.  

For the dictionary page, their definition had to be about the origin of their name.  There were some great stories, such as Sebastian's above, that caught my attention.  Many of my students didn't know the origin of their names, so they were able to ask their families and bring that information back to school with them.  

I made copies of both the United States and Mexico since all of my students were either born there or visit there quite often.  They were allowed to choose how they labeled their map as long as they included text features such as a legend, compass, etc.  

So there you have it!  It wasn't a super fancy lesson, but it allowed my students to get in those extra practice sessions and anything that gets them out of their seats brings it home!  What have you done in your classroom to teach reference sources and text features?