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Compare/Contrast Animal Kingdom Characteristics from Informational Texts

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Keywords: Animal Kingdoms
Subject(s): Reading, Writing, Science
Grade P-K
NETS-S Standard:
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
View Full Text of Standards
School: Myrtle Tate Elementary School, Las Vegas, NV
Planned By: April Fellman
Original Author: April Fellman, Las Vegas
April Fellman Literacy/Science Block 8:00 am-11:10 am
Literacy Need: Lack of diverse texts that present a wide variety of topics provided by the school.
Lesson Title: Compare/Contrast Animal Kingdom Characteristics from Informational Texts
Overview: This lesson plan will review the concept of comparing/contrasting texts and subjects of texts which was previously taught as a reading literature standard. Students will compare/contrast characteristics of mammals with the animal kingdom their group is assigned using the previous taught graphic organizer of a Venn diagram. Students will use the information gathered through the text on mammals discussed in whole group to compare/contrast it to what was learned through computer research on their animal kingdom. Students will work with their groups to discuss and write down the varying characteristics of the two animal kingdoms they learn about through the class cloze read and online research. The search engine Kidrex.org will be utilized so children have a wide variety of online resources to choose from to read to gather information so there research is not limited from lack of print texts. Bailey et al. agree that when students work together using digital texts it positively impacts learning through peer discussion (2012).
Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently.
Compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.
By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 2-3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Objectives/Learning Outcomes: At the end of this lesson students should be able to navigate an online search engine and utilize online text features to support their research. Students should be able to gather information from an informational text and use this knowledge to compare and contrast the subjects of the texts, being the animal kingdoms. Students should be able to comprehend an information science text to gather information on their chosen topic, animal kingdoms.
Materials, Resources, and Technology: The teacher will use the SMARTboard to arouse interest in the topic by exploring the San Diego Zoo website with students. Zapata and Maloch support using stimuli, such as this, in lessons to arouse student interest and increase motivation throughout the lesson (2014). The class will need to use computers and iPads to access kidrex.org and may print articles from this site with teacher approval. Students will need to use pencils and highlighters to learn key facts during the whole group lesson discussing mammals. They will also be provided with the mammal article printed from duckster.com Students will need to take notes in their reading journals while researching their animal kingdom. Venn diagrams will be used to assess the information students have gathered on their animal kingdom and also on their ability to compare and contrast.
Instructional Procedures: The lesson will begin with a review of vocabulary of compare and contrast. Teacher will review comparing and contrasting informational texts by having students return to their interactive notebook and discussing the previous lesson on comparing and contrasting nonfiction texts for about five minutes. According to Kauchak and Eggen, one research based method to improve student is learning is by assessing prior knowledge and connecting this knowledge to current knowledge (2012, p.184). By having students review their interactive journals they will connect their prior understanding of comparing and contrasting to the comparing and contrasting they will apply to animal kingdoms today. The introduction of the lesson will continue with the teacher will then explore the San Diego Zoo website for approximately 5 minutes, again, engaging students with their prior knowledge of animal kingdoms and also to arouse interest about animal kingdoms with students. According to Zapata and Maloch this will motivate students to engage themselves more deeply in the lesson after their interest is aroused (2014). By accessing prior knowledge and engaging students in the lesson through interest, the students are more likely to feel confident in their participation in the lesson. This lesson will last for the entire reading and writing block so keeping students motivated in the activity is imperative for success. After students briefly engage in peer discussion about the animal kingdoms seen on the website, the teacher will explain the class will engage in a cloze read about mammals.
Teacher will engage in a close read with students in a whole group setting demonstrating how she notates important facts about the mammal kingdom as she reads. This activity will reach across disciplines as the students are learning deep reading skills, how to write notes and also learning science content about classifying animals in their kingdom. The teacher will have students highlight and notate as she does reminding them they will compare mammals to another animal kingdom group today using their own chosen texts found online (students have researched on kidrex.org before so they will not need another lesson on how to use this search engine). The text selected by the teacher offers several interesting facts about mammals but also would be a complex read for second graders. Shanahan (2011) supports the fact that students will benefit from engaging in complex texts with guidance and appropriate scaffolding from the teacher. In addition to the text being complex, this short passage also addresses the lack of diverse text books in class because the teacher was able to access and print this text from online. In addition, since the teacher is teaching the students how to engage in a cloze read, students are learning skills that will help them deeply analyze a text. This skill encourages students to read a text multiple times each time with a new exploration in mind, Wertz and Saine support improving student literacy through cloze reading of digital texts using the Common Core State Standards as support (2014). In addition, literacy will be supported later in the lesson when students complete the Venn diagram as a graphic organizer. Wertz and Saine also state graphic organizers help improve student literacy when used with a cloze read (2014). Close reading smaller passages and excessing texts online helps ease the burden of not having many print texts to work with.
After completing the close read teacher will explain that during daily 5 rotations students will be working with their assigned groups to engage in research through Kidrex.org on computers and iPads on their assigned animal kingdom. Kingdoms will be chosen by vote or pulling straws if groups cannot agree. Students will be instructed on how to take notes in their journals on their animal kingdom and teacher will reinforce that students will need to take notes on information that can be compared and contrasted at the close of the lesson. Teacher will explain group captains, already assigned, can seek teacher approval to print 1-2 articles on their animal kingdoms. Students will be given 40 minutes to research online, meaning students will have to pair up to ensure there are enough iPads and computers to use. Teacher will review how to take meaningful notes as she did in the close read before releasing students into research. Students will also be offered guidance with the teacher using iPads in small group. Each Daily 5 session includes groups of 5 students meeting with the teacher for an additional 20 minutes to reinforce the standard in small group. The teacher will use iPads to help students engage in research and again demonstrate close reading and note taking skills to help students find information on their animal kingdom to compare with mammals. According to Halladay and Moses, using the internet to find complex texts benefits literacy in the fact that kids have more access to diverse texts (2013). Furthermore, Baily et al. support the use of turn taking and routines to benefit studentís literacy as it allows more students access to digital texts (2012). The Daily 5 rotations allow all children access to technology as well as access to small group reinforcement with the teacher.
After completing the research the teacher will pull students back to whole group and model how to successfully complete the Venn diagram by comparing the animal kingdom of mammals with the animal kingdom the tier 2 group chose. This allows the tier 2 group to get some extra help while also providing a model for the class to remind them how to complete a Venn diagram. This task will act as the assessment for the lesson and integrates writing as a response to what students learned in their research. Groups will be permitted to work on the diagram together for 10 minutes to share ideas but then students will complete the diagrams in an independent fashion. This activity incorporates peer discussion as students prepare to construct the diagram and also reinforces what students learned by putting their thoughts into writing using the tool of the Venn diagram. Again, Baily et al. writes that peer discussion and the use of graphic organizers are both research based strategies that positively impact student learning (2012). Eventually, not today, this lesson will lead into a compare and contrast essay on the two animal kingdoms and finally an opinion/persuasive essay about what the best animal kingdom is and why.
Student Groupings: This lesson will include both whole group and small group instruction. Students have designated Daily 5 groups they are assigned based on fluency and decoding skills determined by multiple assessments at the beginning of the year and updated throughout the year. Students will complete the research in these same groups of 5-6. This grouping is also based on Tier status which is encouraged by administration. Therefore the Tier 2 group will struggle more with the research, and though the grouping is less heterogeneous, it allows the teacher to pre-evaluate sources appropriate for this group and offer this group more guidance as other groups are more independent.
The mammal close read will happen as a whole and students will stay in their seats, Once students transition to Daily 5 they will move with their designated groups either to the teacher table for twenty minutes or to the computers or iPads. The Tier 2 group will research on iPads to sit closer to the teacher table so the teacher can offer more frequent assistance. There is a clear spot on the floor next to the teacher table for this reason. Students will complete the research with their groups and will then fill in empty tables with their Daily 5 group. The teacher will conduct the lesson on the Venn Diagram model and students will set up and discuss ideas for the diagram with their daily 5 groups to get them started. After ten minutes students will return to their assigned seats and independently complete the diagram so the teacher can assess understanding.
Presentation: Students will celebrate their success by showing their knowledge of the animal kings through their Venn diagrams initially. This activity will lay the foundation for a later essay comparing and contrasting these two kingdoms which will be presented in an authorís chair. Finally, student will create a culminating project persuading the readers what the best animal kingdom is and supporting this with a visual such as a diorama. This project is not a part of this individual lesson, but this lesson is the start of a larger unit plan about animal kingdoms in which students will use todayís lessons to support later projects they will present to their classroom peers. Students will use the class microphone to present these later projects through authorís chair activities. The teacher will record presentations to post them on the classroom website when students read their essays at the end of the unit.
Assessment/Evaluation: Teacher will use observation in whole and small group setting as one form of assessment supported with anecdotal notes for student profiles. In addition, the teacher will review the notes students take in their reading journals on their designated animal kingdoms. The teacher will collect and assess the Venn diagrams students complete and assess student understanding by creating an analytic rubric to rate the diagrams. Teacher will also sort diagrams and consider work samples when deciding which samples demonstrate exceeding, meeting, approaching and emerging toward proficiency. The teacher will evaluate success by analyzing the diagram to see if students comprehended the research texts through what they presented in their writing. The teacher will be looking to see if students were able to compare and contrast the kingdoms using appropriate sections of the Venn diagram with at least 3-5 contrasting features and comparing at least 2-3 characteristics of each kingdom. The teacher will be able to see if students were able to navigate the text features in informational texts by ensuring students comprehended the materials through their writing, as each information text requires navigating through online text features to access it. Furthermore, though not included in this individual lesson, students will be required to create later compare/contrast essays about the kingdoms as well as a persuasive essay supporting why their chosen kingdom is the best. Students will need to comprehend informational texts to create their essays and students will be creating visual aids to accompany these essays. Such aids will include text features such as titles, captions and diagrams. In addition, these assessments, the Venn diagram and essays, can help maintain a writing initiative. Writing initiatives include connecting instruction and assessment by creating assignments that utilize writing to demonstrate student learning and use feedback from the writing to lead to further assignments involving writing (Gere, 2010, p.42). Therefore, the assessment measures the results of proficiency in comprehending the research, understanding the science, and revealing knowledge through proficient writing.
Feedback will be provided to students through completed rubrics with descriptive comments and conferences completed at the start of small group meetings. This will be how feedback is given for the Venn diagrams. In regards to later essays, feedback will be given through rubric completion including descriptive comments along with conferences completed during writerís workshop.
Closure/Teacher Reflection: The teacher will provide closure to the lesson by asking students to turn and talk to a partner about how they used their prior knowledge of comparing/contrasting to help them understand how their animal kingdoms are alike and different. The teacher will ask students to talk to their partner about other texts they have compared and contrasted previously and to pick out similarities and differences between the texts they read today and those prior texts. They teacher will also give examples. The teacher will ask students to write 2 things they learned today on a post-it note as an exit ticket. The teacher reads exit tickets on Fridays to review what students learned throughout the week.

This document contained a lesson plan centered on integrating research-based strategies into the lesson which aims to teach comparing and contrasting to students. The lesson plan also demonstrates multiple skills being utilized in one lesson including writing, reading, and science. The lesson plan is meant to introduce a larger unit on comparing and contrasting informational texts as well as learning about animal kingdoms as the overarching science skill.

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Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Science, writing, reading
Materials: English/Language Arts, Computer Accessories, Elementary