Friday, July 17, 2015

Reading Workshop: Unit 8 {Readers CanRead About Science & Become Experts}

Welcome back for our last installment in our summer reading series: Reading Workshop? No Problem! I hope you have enjoyed this book study as much as I have!! We have seen a barrage of strategies presented on my friends' pages. I highly recommend you purchase the book from our study, or read it for yourself using the LiveBinder site I posted at the beginning of this book study {link the the first post at the bottom of this post}. We really have only skimmed the surface on each of the topics presented in this study. Remember, the ideas presented in this study are designed to work with your current curriculum plan or designed to help you plan out a curriculum plan from scratch. You can navigate through the book study on your own as a quick reference or a go to for strategies throughout your teaching year. The possibilities are endless! Enough chat...on to our last unit. I know you will love it as much as me!

One of my biggest struggles as an educator is teaching students how to read informational text. Since reading and writing go hand in hand, it only makes sense that I also struggle with teaching students how to write expository/informational pieces. It can be difficult to see the importance of writing about the nonfiction texts we are reading, or writing using similar structures found in informational texts. One thing I learned in order to bridge the gap between writing and reading nonfiction, specifically science related, is to make the work collaborative.

We have all heard the saying: Teamwork is the Dreamwork. The same applies and is even more true when it comes to teaching our young ones to become science experts. It has been my experience that students at this level have an innate desire to help others. Calkins stresses the importance of collaboration throughout this unit. She suggest using book clubs in order to reinforce the concepts learned in this unit.

Calkins recommends beginning the unit with Forces of Motion to allow for a range of learners to become involved. Collecting small text sets of books on each topic and categorizing them by both level of difficulty and subtopics will help keep your unit organized and help keep students interested. Remember, reading informational texts is different and has varied text organization across the genre; therefore, students will need help pulling apart important information and applying their knowledge with hands-on activities. This is where you want students to explore and show what they know through experimentation, questioning, and research.

Children naturally want to explore and try new things...test the waters if you will. As children explore science topics in your unit, encourage them to collect materials through their research. Calkins reminds us that our whole group read alouds in this unit need to teach the big concepts and specific vocabulary in order to set the stage for individual inquiry. You must lay that foundation in order for your students to branch out on their own! Lessons in this unit should be as interactive as possible in order to hold interest. Use video clips, YouTube, and BrainPop to support your lessons and incorporate those technology standards!! When using videos, don't forget to pause just like you would in a text to reflect, talk, draw diagrams, retell, etc.

In Part One of the unit, Calkins reminds us of the importance of building base knowledge. Do this by reviewing nonfiction reading strategies, text structure, and how to research a topic. Model how to chunk text and use subheadings in order to determine the main idea and what the author is trying to teach the reader. Calkins mentions more than once the importance of our students sounding like experts. This is done through teaching appropriate vocabulary! Break out those word books, construct a word wall, design some word chains...whatever works! No more word substitutions...students need to use content and academic vocabulary in their everyday conversations. They need to look and sound like science experts.

Part Two of the unit focuses on how to compare and contrast texts on the same science topic. Calkins suggests placing books side by side and allowing your little experts to discuss the similarities and differences between the covers, illustrations, and overall text structure. How are the main topics the same and different? How did the author organize this text? How does is help you better understand how a pulley works (for example)?

In Part Three, Calkins examines the importance of students to learn by asking questions. This is where you teach the scientific method and how to increase wonder through questioning. Use post-its to jot down wonder statements and reflect on reading. Providing students with sentence starters for creating a  hypothesis will help them grow as science experts in their reading. In addition, reading historical fiction will demonstrate how famous scientists questioned and created hypotheses.

When you read this book, you get an abundance of reading and teaching strategies to help your teaching and your little learners. At the end of each unit, Lucy provides us with teaching points, including some dialogue we could have with our students. I recommend printing these out and keeping them handy. They really are a great synopsis of the main points in each unit.

I really hope you enjoyed our summer book study! Please remember to leave some love on our blogs and refer back to these posts as you need some help or reminders.

Use the links below to catch-up on our book study:

Click here to be taken back to the first post in our series.
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