Lesson Plan Template WCSD Writing Program Teacher’s name: Jodie Black Teacher’s school: Rollan Melton Elementary School
Writing Type/Genre: Texts Types and Purposes: Informative/Explanatory Lesson Title: Question and Answer Books: A Way to Inform Standards-based Outcomes: Standard 2: Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which students name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic. Student Outcomes: At the end of this series of writing lessons, begun in February of the kindergarten year, students will be able to independently write a Question and Answer Book in which they name what they are writing about, creating questions and answers that reveal knowledge about the topic. Because I introduce this genre mid-way through the year, I have the expectation that all the children will be writing, not drawing or dictating the text of their posters. Audience and Purpose for Lesson: In kindergarten our first audience is always each other as students learn to share and borrow ideas from each other and from the content they are encountering in class study. The purpose of the Question and Answer Book is to train students to use a simple format to organize non-fiction facts about a chosen topic in a question and answer pair. This lesson relies on the philosophy of “Write to Read.” The children will be able to read and reread their books to themselves, classmates, cross-age buddies and parents. Pre-requisite Skills/Background Knowledge: Students must have a solid knowledge of the letter/sound correspondences and be able to generate rudimentary text by employing these strategies: 1) Use a word wall, spelling list or other resources to access the spelling of frequently used words. 2) Independently sound out words using letter/sound knowledge to spell words necessary to drive the narrative. 3) Listen to and use lessons about concept of word and sentence to begin structuring simple sentences. The genre of writing described in this lesson is best tackled as part of a Writer’s Workshop environment in your classroom. Students should be able to make some choice about what to write and have an extended period of time to develop their ideas, go about the task of writing and have input and assistant from the teacher during the workshop time frame. Resources/Supplies Needed: The graphic organizers contained in this section will be helpful in organizing student writing. Pencils, crayons, markers or colored pencils can be used for illustrating text. 1
Mentor Text(s): Any non-fiction reading or read alouds that you are doing with your students as part of your content curriculum will serve as mentor texts for this type of writing. By hearing lots of informational texts, students will be able to draw upon the facts they are learning and reproduce the sentence structures inherent in this genre.
Brief Overview of Lesson: I have a rule in kindergarten that the children have to be able to do more of the work than I do for them on any given project. So in this unit I am making writing in a non-fiction format accessible for kindergartners. Your students will use an open ended graphic organizer to help keep track of ideas as they write a “Question and Answer Book.” The intent is that after teaching this genre and format to students, they can return again and again to this writing task. I do not introduce this genre until February of the kindergarten year.
Steps in Implementation: Lesson 1: Share some non-fiction books set up in the question and answer format to model the writing of questions and answers. In fact, you might wish to begin reading this type of book for about a week prior to this lesson during your regular read-aloud times in class. But don’t get hung up on having the right books. Select a simple non-fiction example and transform it into a question and answer format as you read it. You already have lots of books in your library, particularly books that came with your science series that would lend themselves to this modification. Lesson 2: Make a transparency of the Question and Answer Book graphic organizer. Do a think aloud, write aloud and create a Question and Answer book on the overhead or active board so everyone can see and hear this happen. I rely on choosing a topic that we all have information about so we can focus on the structure of the book. For example, by now my students have studied about mammals, it’s easy for us to begin with, “What animal group does a horse belong to? A horse is a mammal.” “Does a bird have fur? No, a bird has feathers.” You can see that there are a number of ways you can guide this writing. Give the children many and varied samples about how to construct their questions. Lesson 3: One of the key components of this format is that the author might not wish the answer to the question to be revealed within the illustration on the question page. Think aloud about this as you design your illustrations. Do you want your book to build anticipation? How does careful illustrating foster this aspect of this genre? Demonstrate this for the children as you write and illustrate. Lesson 4: It sometimes happens that the children have difficulty defining and limiting a topic to work within this format. If the children are experiencing trouble with topics, brainstorm some 2
ideas as a class. This might need to be done even when they aren’t having trouble if time is passing between the time you introduce this genre and the time the children begin work on it. Lesson 5: Let me float the idea of taking a step backward. Not just in this unit, but along the way, you might find that there is a little group of sweethearts who are having trouble either getting moving or staying moving or understanding the new formats as they are introduced. That is why, here on lesson 5, not at the outset, I would like to address these darlings. I believe in letting the highest thinking in the classroom drive the curriculum. I start each unit with examples and teaching that raise the writing expectation for the children. Sometimes, someone doesn’t get it! My philosophy is after, and only after I have taught to the highest level, do I circle back and present a modified idea. With that explanation, here’s what happened with Question and Answer books: Some doll babies had trouble with the format. I suggested this modification to everyone: Try your family. It was a bingo idea. Easy as pie for the kiddos to write, “What is my mother’s name? My mother’s name is Alicia.” “What is my brother’s name? My brother’s name is Ethan.” This led easily to dogs and cousins and friends. Lots of kids wrote family question and answer books and then were better able to move onto a more sophisticated topic. Lesson 6: Take the time or an extra time to model how to use the organizer that goes with this format. Notice that there is a cover sheet and a blank sheet. Some of the children like to include dedication pages or title pages and this blank can serve this purpose. These organizers should be easily accessible to the children, so you don’t have to keep track of getting them what they need. Lesson 7: Question and Answer books provide the opportunity to review or re-teach capitals, periods and question marks. As with the All About Posters helping to focus on the idea of a complete thought, the Question and Answer books effectively illuminate the idea of a question. If the audience you are going to present to during Author’s Chair doesn’t feel like answering, you’ve probably not asked a question.
Revision Strategy: Revision Strategy: Revision in kindergarten is a delicate and tricky process. My 27 years of experience teaching primary children, 16 of those being in kindergarten, have taught me these rules for revision: 1. If a child gets so messed up that they can’t continue, throw it away and start over! 2. If a child doesn’t like what they’ve done, throw it away and start over! 3. Be realistic. Kindergartners are just learning to write. Revision is every new thing they do. Every new letter, every new sound, every new word, every new sentence, every new genre is new. Every time a student does something they have never done before, that’s revision. Kindergarten revision can be called envision! 4. Changes do not need to be made in a current piece of writing. An idea for how to make a piece better can be applied to a future work. This is revision for kindergartners. 5. Very often share completed work in class. Let the comments and suggestions of classmates be a subtle and effective pressure to revise in a future document. “That doesn’t make sense.” “What was the dog’s name?” “I can’t tell what your picture is showing.” These comments coming from classmates are powerful to kindergartners and will spur revisions. 6. There are no such things as “dead words” in kindergarten. “Said” cannot be dead when we don’t even know how to spell it yet. About the only word I ever suggest they use less is “then.” And even then only if they know how to use it before I limit it. 7. 3 Red Dots: Occasionally, when a student has made a similar error throughout a piece of writing, for example writing “hav” in several sentences, I use this trick: Using a skinny marker, I put a tiny red dot under each error. I tell the child how to fix the error and walk away while they fix it. If the errors are dissimilar, put no more than three dots! They can’t remember what they were meant to fix when you add more items. 8. Gray It Out: When a child has erased and erased and the text is no longer legible, but the paper still has room to write on it or text that is satisfactory, I instruct the children to “gray out” the ugly part. Using a gray crayon, the student colors right over their errors, hiding them, but leaving room for the existing or more correct text without discarding the whole. 9. Do more than one lesson demonstrating how to make a text more interesting and informative by adding additional sentences. Students who are ready to hear this idea will and those who aren’t ready won’t. 10. Do more than one lesson about using conjunctions to make simple sentences complex. Give your students a spelling list of these words for referencing and teach them how to reference it.
From Jodie Black, www.teacherjodieblack.com 2012
Standard Q and A Books
Early Q and A Books: 1-2. (February)
Student writes on a topic, but is unable to compose questions and/or answers in complete sentences.
Student writes less than 3 questions and answers on a topic.
Student writes to compose an informative/explanatory Question and Answer Book in which they name what they are writing about and supply at least 3 questions and answers about the topic.
Middle Q and A Books: 2-4. (Mar.-Apr.)
Student writes less than 2 questions and answers or the questions and/or answers are not written as complete sentences.
Student writes on a topic, but composes only 1-2 questions and answers or some questions and answers do not match each other or student needs assistance. Student writes on a topic, but composes only 2-3 questions and answers or some questions and answers do not match each other or student needs assistance.
Student writes 3 questions and answers about a topic, but is missing key conventions.
Student writes to compose an informative/explanatory Question and Answer Book in which they name what they are writing about and supply at least 3 questions and answers about the topic, using a capital and a question mark for questions and a capital and period for statements.
Late Q and A Books: 4-6 or more. (Apr.-June)
Student writes less than 3 questions and answers or the questions and/or answers are not written as complete sentences.
Student writes on a topic and composes 3 questions and answers but some questions and answers do not match each other or student needs assistance.
Student writes 3 questions and answers about a topic, but is missing key conventions or has not made reference to a mentor text.
Student writes to compose an informative/explanatory Question and Answer Book in which they name what they are writing about and supply at least 3 matching questions and answers about the topic with capitals, questions marks and periods. Student indicates reference to a mentor text.
Annotation The writer of this piece approaches the standard by writing three questions and answers on a topic. demonstrates command of some of the conventions of standard written English. Questions end with a question mark. Some answers are incomplete sentences. Spacing is consistent. Why is my baby crying? Because he is hungry. Why is my baby sleeping? To get energy. Why is my baby taking a bath? To get clean.
Annotation The writer of this piece meets the standard by writing 3 questions and answers on a topic. demonstrates command of some of the conventions of standard written English. Questions end with a question mark and statements end with a period. Capitals are used inconsistently. Do you know my mom’s name? My mom’s name is Jessica. Do you know what my dad’s name is? My dad’s name is Jon. Do you know what my sister’s name is? Her name is Cassidy.
Annotation The writer of this piece exceeds the standard by writing an informative/explanatory Question and Answer Book in which she names what she is writing about and supplies at least 3 matching questions and answers about the topic. Student indicates a mentor text by referencing facts learned about animal groups from read alouds in class. demonstrates command of some of the conventions of standard written English. Questions end with question marks, statements end with periods. Sentences are complete. Spacing is accurate. Which animals have smooth skin? Frogs have smooth skin. What animal swims? Fish swim. Which animal is a fossil? Ichthyosaurus is a fossil.
Universal Access: The “Question and Answer Book” format is especially accessible for other student populations. The organizers allow the teacher to determine the level of control to maintain when assisting a student. One question and/or answer per page allows low ability students to keep track of their information and arrange or rearrange it as necessary. The teacher may wish to supply the questions for some students, having them supply just the answers.
Connections/Extensions: I taught an in-service class at which I shared the “Question and Answer Book” idea. The teachers in my class suggested several ways to connect and extend this format. Below is a list of ideas they shared with me. Several may be useful to you depending on your particular population and the content you have covered in class. Question and Answer Books can be used: 1. after reading an informational text in class. 2. for modeling appropriate classroom behavior, management and procedures. 3. to show shapes, colors or size. 4. to introduce question words such as what, when, where, why, how. 5. when doing constructed response. Ask one question, the students find three answers to that question from the text being used in class. 6. at the end of a science unit on habitats. 7. to wrap up a farm unit. 8. to review learning about the solar system. 9. to review the water cycle. 10. to review what has been learned at the end of a unit. 11. to show the reasoning used for sorting objects into different categories. 12. to help represent part/part/whole in math. 13. as a class big book about community. 14. to get to know students and their families at the beginning of the school year. 15. to describe each season or holiday. 16. to review after each GLAD unit of study. 17. to make a present for Mother’s Day, if it is all about our moms.
Additional Resources: NNWP.org Writingfix.com For further help with teaching beginning writers see: Jodie Black, Website: Start to Learn at www.teacherjodieblack.com. Click on Start to Write: Second Edition 2012 for downloadable text. 9
Credit: Fletcher, Ralph and Joann Portalupi. 2001. Craft Lessons: Teaching Information Writing K-8. Maine: Stenhouse. Marzano, Robert J., Debra J. Pickering and Jane E. Pollock. 2001. Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Marzano, Robert J., Jennifer S. Norford, Diane E. Paynter, Debra J. Pickering and Barbara B. Gaddy. 2001. A Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works. Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
In kindergarten my students have to be able to do more of the work than I do for them on any given project. So in this unit I am making writ...