My name is Carolyn Milz, and I am a senior in the School of Education at Concordia University Ann Arbor. I am currently in a class that focuses on teaching struggling readers and writers. For this course, we are constructing a mini-unit that targets a group with a specific literacy development challenge. That is what I am sharing with you today.
I have decided to focus on students that have difficulty with reading comprehension. This unit will supply you with ideas and strategies that will best aid students who struggle with this aspect of literacy development. Since I am doing my fieldwork for this course in a fourth grade classroom, this will be the age level for which this is prepared. However, I’m sure that you could adapt it to be more appropriate for a younger age group.
My goal is to get children excited about reading. I strive to come up with lesson topics that will be of interest to them. If they are interested in what they are reading about, it might be easier for the students to remember what they just read. That’s how you can get it to stick better. Children are more open to reading if there is a specific goal or purpose.
I hope you find this mini-unit useful for this specific area of literacy development. Please offer any further suggestions you may have!
The purpose of this unit is to help fourth grade readers who are struggling with reading comprehension. It is very important to know what you are reading, and remember it when you finish. This can be a challenge for some children, and adults as well. I plan to use this unit to interest the reader, which in return will hopefully increase their comprehension as well as their excitement to read and learn. This unit will use a couple of children’s books that have effective storylines that will help reinforce this concept of reading comprehension as well as have easy to follow literary elements.
a. Identifying the main idea
b. Literary elements
II. Reading Comprehension
c. Story maps
Objectives and Pre-assessment
The student will be able to identify the main idea in a story.
The student will be able to recognize literary elements in a story.
The pre-assessment for this mini-unit will be a word list that I assess them on to see what reading grade level they are at.
Lesson One – Stephanie’s Ponytail
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
The student will be able to use the main idea of a text to retell a story.
Small group instruction
Ask the children if they ever have done something because someone else did. What about the other way around? How did that make them feel? Show them the book Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Munsch. Have them make predictions about the story.
Read them Stephanie’s Ponytail. After you read through it once, read it again, writing important words on the board that children can put on their “Sum It Up” sheet. Included should be the main idea. What is the author trying to teach us? After they have their main idea words, see if they can sum it up on the bottom of the page, following the given directions.
Have a volunteer or two retell the story based on their “Sum It Up” sheet. Record any strategies that we can use for retelling on a large piece of paper.
Ask the students questions about the stories theme. See if they can relate to it in any way.
Reread the story to catch important details and the main idea.
Retell the story using the words we found. Do we have any strategies we can take with us?
This activity uses different teaching styles to ensure that different learning styles are met. Writing important words we find on the board can visualize them for the students after we complete reading it. The words will be there to reference as needed, and since this is a small group activity, the children can work together.
Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Munsch
“Sum It Up” worksheets (attached)
Lesson Two – Piggie Pie!
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.3 Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
After hearing Piggie Pie!, the student will be able to create a concept map and retell the story using important literary elements (characters, setting, plot, etc.)
Small group instruction
Start off by showing the students the book. Ask them if they have heard it before. Next, read them Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini. Stop reading every now and then and ask engaging questions to really get them thinking (i.e. what do you think will happen next?)
After reading the story through the first time, have them make a concept map that includes the important details of the story. Ask the children if they can name the major literary elements that we have been discussing. Write the elements on the board. Make sure they name characters, setting, plot, problem, resolution, etc. Go through the concept map step by step, including all major literary elements. Go back through the story if necessary to catch all the major details. Since this is a small group activity, they may work together to make the map.
Ask the students to retell the story for you without looking at their map. Take note of any details they find important. Collect the concept maps when they are finished.
Have they read the book before? Ask them what they think the story will be about after they see the cover/title page.
Can they name the literary elements we have been talking about in class?
Did this activity really set the story in their brain? Are they able to retell it without looking at the map? Collect the concept maps.
This activity works on reading comprehension and retelling skills. Students who struggle with that will benefit from this lesson. The small group setting enables you to give your attention to all students. This would also be beneficial for kids who don’t struggle with those skills. You can adjust the reading level of the book accordingly.
Piggie Pie! by Margie Palatini
The final evaluation for this unit will be a skit that the students will perform in small groups. Each group may pick a book out of the class library. They may read it together a couple times as a group, and then they must put it back in the library. Without using the book for reference, they must use the main idea of the book to create their own skit. Before they begin, they may create a concept map to help them organize their thoughts and memories of the story. The skit must retell the story, using most of the main details. They may adapt it a little bit to make it their own, but it must follow the same general literary elements that it already has. With their skit, they must also create a script that will be turned in. Each person must have a part, and they must write their own script.