Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Comprehension is Key

Number the Stars

Last week we started Number the Stars, a great piece of historical fiction by Lois Lowry. It's a story about a two young girls growing up in Nazi occupied Denmark. One girl is Jewish and the other is not. As the story unfolds, Annemarie is faced with the difficult question of being brave. 

To help the children familiarize themselves with the history behind the story, we broke up into groups based on random characteristics. Based on the groupings, different students were granted different or even no privileges. This led into a great conversation about this time in history. As we read chapters, we track items that are rationed, follow along on a map and keep track of new vocabulary.

Every week, the students are met with a reading inventory highlighting five vocabulary words they could add to their own writing. They read them over and decide their familiarity with the word. Extra boxes are given for other interesting words they encounter.

These words are given to them as homework. Every student writes sentences that are 10 words long living up to their personalized writing goals. The definitions are one the page and they have the direct link to these words in Quizlet. They can use Quizlet to study, take practice tests and play quiz-like games. 

Throughout the reading, the children are met with their homework words linked directly to their definitions. Highlighted sections of text signal the students to get to work. They are confronted with comprehension questions that ask for understanding, opinions and predictions to give children the real life experience of slowing down to make meaning. These questions are answered directly into this shared document for all classmates to see and discuss. Students are making great progress in higher level thinking and elaboration.

Stay tuned for our chapter reader's theaters that are already in progress!

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