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Home Classroom Resources Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Using Word Storms to Explore Vocabulary and Encourage Critical Thinking

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

 
Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Seven 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Deborah Kozdras, Ph.D.

Deborah Kozdras, Ph.D.

Tampa, Florida

Publisher

International Reading Association

 

Student Objectives

Session 1: Activating Prior Knowledge/Interactive Read-Aloud

Session 2: Shared Reading and Writing Activity

Session 3: Interactive Reading and Writing from Perspective

Sessions 4 to 6: Writing Process

Session 7: Inform

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • Learn to communicate for a specific purpose using spoken, written, and visual information

  • Apply what they have learned by communicating with an audience using a wide variety of writing and discussion activities

  • Practice analysis by applying specific vocabulary to examine texts

  • Gain knowledge by gathering information from a variety of sources

  • Demonstrate what they have learned by creating several projects that are designed to communicate their perspectives and discoveries to their peers

  • Use a wide variety of resources to read, create, and communicate knowledge

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Session 1: Activating Prior Knowledge/Interactive Read-Aloud

1. Present words and questions: Place the first five vocabulary words-work, companion, service, advocate, and therapy-on the bulletin board. Talk to students about what they know and want to know about these words while you record their responses on the K-W-L chart. Have students present the photos/pictures of working dogs they have brought in to share (see Preparation, Step 10). As they place their pictures on the bulletin board, ask them to discuss how that dog "works." While students put their pictures on the board, model the use of the vocabulary words you have placed there to talk about your own pictures and those that students have brought in.

2. Obtain information through reading and research: Read the slide show from the NOVA: Dogs and More Dogs: Working Dogs website aloud. While you read, pause to ask questions and model use of the vocabulary words, for example:
  • How do you define work for this dog?

  • Can this dog work as a companion?

  • What service does this dog perform?

  • Would this dog make a good therapy animal?

  • How can we become advocates for these dogs-speaking on their behalf-ensuring they are treated well?
3. Write and draw about what you learned: Use the Word Storm Page transparency or chart paper to model how students should fill it out using one of the words. (The Sample Word Storm Page should help you do this.)

4. Evaluate what you learned: Distribute the Working Dogs Assignment Handout and review it with students. Explain that the ultimate goal is to learn the vocabulary words in order to create an article about working dogs, advocating on their behalf. Have students write the vocabulary words in their Word Storm notebook and work through some of the questions. They should also record ideas for projects or stories, notes, and illustrations.

5. Review what you learned: Have students share what they learned while you record their responses on the K-W-L chart. Students should have their Word Storm books and some writing materials so they can add to their own pages when they hear their peers' ideas. Encourage them to use the "power words" as they have an open discussion of what they learned.

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Session 2: Shared Reading and Writing Activity

1. Present words and questions: Review the words from Session 1. Have students place any new pictures/photos they have brought in on the bulletin board. Introduce the new words: rights, responsibility, heroic, and power. Place them on the bulletin board and discuss them with students, recording their responses in the first two columns of the K-W-L chart.

2. Obtain information through reading and research: Participate in a shared reading of the Stories section of the PBS Nature: Extraordinary Dogs website. During the reading encourage students to use the vocabulary words on the bulletin board. Questions for discussion include:
  • Do dogs have rights in these situations?

  • How is each dog heroic?

  • Who has the power in these situations?

  • Do we have any responsibility to advocate for the dogs-speak on their behalf?
3. Write and draw about what you learned: Have students get in groups of three to four students. They should have their own Word Storm books and should independently fill in pages for the new words as you work with them. Place the transparency or the chart paper version of the Word Storm Page you completed with students during Session 1 where students can see it. Begin a discussion of the new words, asking some questions from the Word Storm Page.

4. Evaluate what you learned: Students should review what they learned by going over their Word Storm Pages with their small groups. Circulate among the groups to help them fill in any areas in which they experience difficulties.

5. Review what you learned: Have students participate in a large-group discussion about the ideas they placed on their Word Storm Pages. Review the K-W-L chart with the class and discuss what they have learned, filling in the third column.

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Session 3: Interactive Reading and Writing from Perspective

1. Present words and questions: Review the words from the first two sessions and have students place any new pictures/photos on the bulletin board. Put the new word, perspective, up on the bulletin board. Discuss how it is like point of view in a story, filling in the K-W-L chart as you do so. Ask students what the perspective has been in the stories they heard during Sessions 1 and 2. What do they think the dog's perspective would be in some of the stories they have heard?

2. Obtain information through reading and research: Direct students to the FBI Working Dogs website. Read one of the stories aloud and discuss whether the story is told from the dog's perspective or the handler's perspective. Have students work in pairs to explore the stories, reminding them to make note of point of view and how the stories differ.

3. Write and draw about what you learned: Share the comic you created with students (see Preparation, Step 6) using a transparency or by giving them copies. Talk about the perspective you have chosen. Show students the Comic Creator tool and have them work with their partners to create a comic based on one of the stories they have just read. Encourage students to use the vocabulary words from all three sessions. Tell them that the story should be told from the dog's perspective and that the dog can talk to another animal or human. Remind students to print their comics when they are done.

4. Evaluate what you learned: Students should work in their Word Storm notebooks while they wait for all groups to finish.

5. Review what you learned: Have students present their comics to the class. Discuss the different perspectives in them. As students present, record sentences in which students used "power words" on chart paper or the board, discussing how they used these words.

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Sessions 4 to 6: Writing Process

(Note: Students should be guided through these activities at a pace consistent with their abilities. Some students may require extra sessions to complete these steps.)

1. Prewriting
  • Review words from the first three sessions and have students place any new pictures/photos on the bulletin board. Discuss the "power word:" advocate. Have a whole-class discussion about how students could advocate for working dogs. Ask them how they could inform other people about the work these dogs do.

  • Discuss prewriting concepts. Choose a topic; consider purpose, audience, and form; and generate and organize ideas for writing. Show them the sample newspaper you created (see Preparation, Step 6). Go to the ReadWriteThink Printing Press and walk students through the various choices they have for a final product.

  • Visit the How Can We Advocate for Working Dogs? Inquiry Unit. Have students work in pairs or small groups to read through the websites, using their Word Storm books to get ideas for vocabulary they can use in their own writing.

2. Drafting
  • Students should write a rough draft using the vocabulary words. They can choose to use any of the formats on the ReadWriteThink Printing Press and should plan their work to match the format they wish to use.

  • You should work with groups of students to guide their writing process and conference about the use of vocabulary.
3. Revising
  • Students should spend time rereading their rough drafts and revising independently.

  • After everyone has had time to revise, students should share their rough drafts in small writing groups following this sequence: writer reads, listeners offer compliments, writer asks questions about problem areas, and listeners offer suggestions. Circulate and offer input while students are working.

  • Students should revise their work based on the feedback they receive.
4. Editing
  • Students should read through their stories, proofreading for errors and correcting spelling and grammatical mistakes.

  • Depending on your students' abilities, you may need to help them at this stage, going over the basics of editing or holding conferences with individual students.
5. Publishing

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Session 7: Inform

Have students present their work to the class. One of the most vital components of a critical literacy activity that focuses on social justice is to have students share their information. They will become more deeply involved with their topic when they are writing for a real purpose and audience.

Students may choose to invite community members in to listen to their perspectives. They can present their work on poster boards or give oral presentations based on their written work. They can also contact organizations with their ideas, such as The Humane Society of the United States or The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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EXTENSIONS

  • This lesson can be modified to explore any topic through a critical lens. The following social themes can be investigated: the environment, hate crimes, freedom of speech, fear of differences, racial discrimination, gangs, working parents, child labor, gender issues, poverty, ways of learning, physical and developmental handicaps, teasing, bullies, war, victims, addiction, government opposition, and religious oppression.

  • Children's literature can be used to examine a wide variety of social themes. For example, the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) from the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin lists books to use for a theme of social justice at 40 Books about Peace and Social Justice.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • Informally assess comprehension and communication skills during whole-class and small-group discussions.

  • Collect the Word Storm Pages, comics, and final projects. Evaluate them using the Evaluation of "Power Words" Project chart.

  • Students can use the "Power Words" Project Self-Assessment to reflect on their work throughout the project. They should have their Word Storm books, their comics, and their final projects on their desk as they work through this assessment.

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