"To start this lesson, I read the student a brief story by Dr. Seuss; the story was based on the word "niche."ù While the word was spelled as "Nitch"ù in the story, Dr. Seuss preserved the sound, and after reading the story, the reader could infer the meaning of "Nitch."ù I asked Stella to research the meaning of "laissez faire,"ù a term she will cover in social studies this year, and write a story similar to the Dr. Seuss story. The purpose of this exercise is to help the student recognize the importance of context clues; the word "Nitch"ù was spelled incorrectly but placed in a context that made its meaning intelligible.
I read her ecosystems passage aloud to her, stopping at the end of each paragraph to ask a comprehension question. She answered all my comprehension questions correctly. I taught the student a strategy for answering multiple-choice questions. The strategy involves:
1. Reading the item (question)
2. Reading every answer choice
3. Considering why each answer choice may or may not be the answer
4. Making the best choice based on the evaluation
I modeled the procedure for the student with a sample question. She helped me select the correct answer choice. We completed the next question together. I asked the student to answer the next two questions independently. She answered the first question incorrectly, the second question correctly. I reread the question the student missed; I verbally thought aloud as I evaluated each answer choice, asking for the student's feedback. She selected the correct answer choice after hearing my think-aloud. All the multiple-choice questions were based on the ecosystems reading passage.
Next, the student wrote answers to three "Yes/No/Why"ù questions. The student must answer a question with yes or no, then explain his or her answer; each question is answered verbally, then written down in grammatical sentences. Her verbal answers were all correct. When she wrote her answers, she attempted to take shortcuts commonly used in writing notes (e.g. using an & instead of "and"ù). I reminded the student that such shorthand is acceptable for taking notes, but writing answers to questions should always be in grammatical sentences. She answered three "Yes/No/Why"ù questions; she read her answers aloud to me. We worked together to correct her grammar. Her answers were all correct.
Next, the student and I reviewed a strategy for writing multiple-paragraph answers to questions. She read a sample prompt question based on the reading passage aloud. I then introduced the student to the "Planning Box"ù; a student lists topics for each paragraph, supporting details for each paragraph, crosses out details irrelevant to the topics, connects topics that can be combined into a single, longer sentence with a vertical bracket, and then numbers the details in logical order. I discussed each of these steps with the student, using a model planning box. The model had a detail from the first paragraph crossed-out and two details connected with bracket. I asked the student to explain why the student crossed-out a specific detail; she seemed slightly stalled by this question, so I followed it up by asking her to restate the topic of the paragraph, and then I asked if the detail was relevant to the topic. She correctly answered "no."ù We also discussed how two details were connected with the bracket; the student correctly observed that the ideas were similar but slightly different; both ideas talked about ecosystems being made up of living and nonliving things interacting.
I hoped to review the model three-paragraph essay based on the planning box with the student, but the time ran out. I asked the student to complete the vocabulary decoding exercise for the next reading passage. If the student finishes the vocabulary, we can review it quickly at the start of the next lesson and begin reading right away."