Degrees and Certifications:
Our first unit is devoted to helping our third graders develop lifelong habits of strong readers, including choosing books wisely and getting a lot of reading done, keeping track of how reading is going and addressing problems along the way, learning to talk about books with others, and applying on-the-run comprehension strategies to hold onto and synthesize all the parts of the text. The comprehension skills that are highlighted in the unit include the foundational skills of envisioning, predicting and retelling, as well as strategies for tackling difficulties in texts.
Reading to Learn
This is a foundational unit for nonfiction reading. This unit is intended to teach students to read long stretches of nonfiction with fluency, in such a way that they can determine importance and ascertain main ideas. This unit will help strengthen students’ skills as nonfiction readers and also build their nonfiction reading identities.
Mystery: Foundational Skills in Disguise
Reading mysteries is the perfect vehicle to teach foundational skills. Students are so excited to read mysteries, they’ll leap at the chance to do the work required to really “get” the mystery. And, of course, mysteries also naturally push kids to infer—to notice clues and to wonder more about them; to consider how part of chapter 7 relates back to what was learned in Chapter 4; to wonder if a character is really telling the truth. Work such as thinking about what kind of characters the detectives and co-detectives are can serve as foundational skills for character development work that sets students up for subsequent units.
In this unit, children move from a close study of character, to a study of the predictable journeys that all characters take, to a cross book comparison study of characters who have something important (similar traits, problems, lessons learned) in common.One of the first goals of the unit is that students learn to make careful, close observations of characters, and then draw on their insights to craft theories and predictions. A second goal of the unit is that children gain an understanding of the ways in which all stories are structured: a character faces trouble that grows bigger and reacts to it, eventually finding a way to resolve the trouble and learn lessons. Once children have a sense of how all stories go, they can tackle a third goal: to think comparatively about characters in different books, noticing similarities and differences between these characters’ struggles, motivations, reactions, and the lessons they learn.
Research Book Clubs
This is a favorite unit of children (and teachers!), and the unit gets kids to read up a storm in nonfiction books. Students work in small groups or clubs to first read and research about one animal, then another animal. In the last part of the unit they compare and contrast what they have learned about the animals they studied and also apply their newfound animal knowledge to solve real world problems.
Learning Through Reading: Countries Around the World
In this unit, our students will be engaged in reading about a nonfiction topic (in this case, different countries) to learn all they can about that topic. Students will be working in groups, with each group studying a different country or continent. Members of the groups will be reading books first about one country then about a second country and then they will compare and contrast ideas and information about all of the countries studied (including those studied by the class during read aloud time). In the final part of the unit, students will also study literature from different countries, including folktales and fairy tales, to learn about countries through literature.