Teacher Jennifer Grennan’s fourth graders are engrossed in their realistic fiction unit, which centers around a class reading of “The Tiger Rising” by Kate DiCamillo.
“We’re building comprehension with specific strategies across different reading levels,” Grennan explained. “As a class, we start with a mini lesson to introduce a strategy and then students apply it to their own reading.”
On Thursday, the class was continuing a lesson focused on looking at a character’s repeated actions to develop more complex thinking about them. “It’s a tough skill. They have to read closely, actively think while they are reading and reflect,” noted Grennan. “Readers who already have this skill are challenged to expand their thinking and go deeper.”
With all students seated on the classroom carpet, Grennan read a chapter from “The Tiger Rising,” with strategic pauses for students to “turn and talk” about a prompt she offers and then share a partner’s idea with the class. At the end of the chapter, Grennan provided students with sentence starters and engaged them in a quick, interactive example tied to the reading before sending them off to read independently and develop two ideas about their characters.
“This lesson is a model for student-led book club discussions,” reported K-5 Instructional Literacy Coach Kristy Nadler. “Students can discuss two ideas they had about their character with their group–and these discussions are grounded in text evidence. Students are expected to deepen their understanding of text throughout the year and this unit is a foundation for higher level inferential comprehension.”
Across every unit, Grennan monitors student progress. “Using student data, such as Fountas and Pinnell reading levels and STAR testing, helps teachers to target specific skills based on current student levels,” she said. “This is a particularly useful resource that helps to inform our instructional planning to best meet the needs of all students while allowing teachers to consistently monitor student needs, progress and growth.”