Group Size: Any

Time Required: 60 - 90 minutes

Learning Objectives: Students will be able to...

Code a non-fiction text about World War II
Select their first literature circle novels for the unit 


Student Worksheet #1 (attached)
Overhead transparency of Student Worksheet #1 (attached) 
Print-outs of encyclopedia article
Overhead transparency of encyclopedia article
Post-it notes (so that students can code their novels)
Parent letter (attached)
Resource packets for students containing:

Syllabus and Project Sheet (attached)
Unit Calendar (attached)
Glossary (attached)
World War Two Map(s) (attached) 


Do Now: Students (S) will begin by completing the Do Now, which appears on the student notes. It is, "Below, brainspill everything you know about World War II and the Holocaust." The teacher (T) can then pair/share or whole-class share student responses.

Connection: T will say: Today we're beginning a new unit. Let's take a look at our syllabus and calendar for this unit. (T should distribute syllabi and calendars.)

Together, we'll be reading Elie Wiesel's memoir Night.  You'll also be reading novels about the this time period in your literature circles.

Today we're going to focus on reviewing how we code the text, as you'll be expected to code every book you read and share what you've coded at your literature circle meetings. We're also going to use this as an opportunity to review some World War II basics because, before we leap into a novel for which historical context is extremely important, we want to make sure we have the background knowledge to be able to comprehend our text.

Direct Instruction / Guided Practice:  Before we get into the nitty-gritty of coding the text, however, let's review how we preview any new text, especially a non-fiction article like the one we'll be reading today.  Who can remind me what we should do when we're previewing a text?  (Target: Read the title and subtitle.  Look for bold, italicized or underlined words.  Check out pictures and captions.  T will reveal this section of the student notes overhead.  If S haven't already done a lesson on previewing the text, you may wish to cover this important skill prior to beginning this unit.)

After we preview a text, we might have a question we want to ask about that text.  a before-reading question.  How would we indicate that?  (Target:  Write a "Q," circle it, and jot the question in the margin.  T will reveal this portion of the student notes overhead.  If S haven't done a lesson on asking questions / coding the text with their questions, you may wish to cover this strategy prior to beginning this unit.  If you are interested in resources, a week of lesson plans on asking and coding questions is available in my Coming of Age unit.)

What if, as you read, you want to mark up important information?  (Target:  Draw a star, circle it, and jot any relevant notes in the margin.  T will reveal this part of the student notes overhead. If S haven't done a lesson on determining importance / coding important ideas, you may wish to cover this strategy prior to beginning this unit.)

Finally, what if you make connections as you read?  How do you record the connections you're making with your own lives, other texts you have read, or the world?  (Target:  Write the appropriate letters--TS, TT or TW dependent upon the nature of the connection--circle them, and explain your connection in the margin. T will reveal this part of the overhead transparency.  If you haven't taught your students to make and code connections, you may wish to cover this critical reading strategy prior to beginning the unit.)

Let's practice these skills with an article that will help us to activate our background knowledge about World War II and the Holocaust.  (T will distribute articles.)

Would anyone feel comfortable previewing the text aloud for us?  (S should notice the following features and qualities:
Photos and captions
Many bold-faced words that may be hyperlinks since the document was originally intended for reading on the computer

T should follow S comments using the overhead version of the article)

Would anyone like to pose a before-reading question to frame our reading?  (Take a reasonable suggestion and record it on the transparency.)  Remember, if I'm writing it on the overhead transparency, you should also be writing it at your seat.

Now let's go ahead and begin reading.  (T will read first three paragraphs aloud.)  Now let's stop to think about our thinking.  Did anyone notice anything that they felt to be important?  Did anyone make any connections or ask any further questions?  (Take S responses and record relevant comments on the overhead transparency.)

Now please read the next five paragraphs with your table partner and code the text as you read.  You should stop at "surrendering on May 2, 1945." Let's draw a line at the bottom of that paragraph so that we all know where to stop.  Go ahead and begin.  

(T will allow time, then facilitate share-out.)

Please finish reading the rest of the article independently.  Be ready to share your thinking in five minutes. 

(T will allow time, then facilitate share-out.)

Link: Today will be busy.  Your job is to continue practicing coding your novels at your seats while we work on forming literature circles and selecting literature circle novels for our unit.  Please read silently in your seats and code the text with post-it notes unless you are signaled to join us in the library.   (If the classroom does not have a library, you will wish to designate an alternate meeting place for literature circle groups.)

Independent Practice: (S read silently and code the text. T works with students to form literature circle groups for this unit. 

At the beginning of the unit, I spend a few days working with students to help them form groups and select novels. Groups are generally between 4 and 6 students in size and may be homogenously leveled, heterogeneously leveled, single-sex, interest-based, friendship-inspired, you name it. Because my class culture is strong, I rarely run into difficulty ensuring that all students are comfortable and happy in their groups.

The groups themselves are also quite flexible; typically, when two groups conclude novel study within a few days of each other, members of the first group may choose to delay selection of their next book so that groups can intermingle and shift based upon interest.

Once groups have selected their first books of the unit, the process is entirely student-run. Groups meet weekly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday in the classroom library during the Do Now and Word Study based upon a rotating schedule. Students follow a loose meeting agenda that appears in the library for their reference and includes (1) Checking up on pages, plot comprehension, etc. (2) Discussing thoughts and ideas with the support of your weekly role sheet (3) Deciding upon next week's pages and roles and selecting new role sheets (4) Completing the reflection on the reverse side of this week's role sheets and (5) Collecting and submitting this week's role sheets to the teacher. One representative of the group is responsible for submitting each group member's weekly role sheet to me at the conclusion of the meeting.

For more information on how to make literature circles work for you, try Harvey Daniels' Literature Circles.

Share: Our reading time is up for today. Please take a couple of minutes to share your thinking and your coding with your table partner or your literature circle group.

(T will allow time.)

Closing: (Note to the Instructor: At the conclusion of each class period, we play a class-versus-class game called "Million Dollar Question." I create four questions each day. The first question is based upon the day's objective. The second question addresses a topic relevant to the unit. The third question is pulled from any topic discussed during the year. The fourth question is the "Essential Question," which stays in the mix all week long and often requires students to defend their response to one of our unit study essential questions. I read the question twice without calling on a student to ensure that all students are still thinking about a possible answer. I then choose a student's name randomly using popsicle sticks. That student has the opportunity to respond to the question. If that students answers correctly, the class gets a point. If not, the question is open to the entire class; however, a point is not awarded. I generally pick a set number of points-ie: 50 points-and the first class to make it to that benchmark receives an extrinsic reward, ie: reading outside the next Friday, popcorn during independent reading time, etc.)

I hope you found today's review of coding to be helpful!  Remember, coding the text is a great way to ensure that you are being a thoughtful, metacognitive reader.  Plus, by jotting down your thoughts as you read, you're preparing to share your brilliant ideas with your literature circle groups!

It's time for million dollar question!

1. Name three different things we can code as we read.  (Accept reasonable responses.)

2. What idea or theme ties together the novels we'll be studying in unit for? (World War II and the Holocaust)

3. (Note to the Instructor: Insert your own question here based upon objectives your students mastered up until this point in the year.)

4. What was World War II?  Answer this question in a way that an eight-year-old could understand.  (Accept reasonable responses.)

Differentiation:  Novels are differentiated by reading level and by choice.  Gradual release during Direct Instruction/Guided practice.  Active reading strategy: coding the text.

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