Our Comprehension Studies at a Glance
In Grade 1 we use our Reader’s Workshop time to introduce a Common Core comprehension studies. Our first grade progression of story element studies start with the setting in October, the main character in November, the problem and solution in December, and story mapping to put it all together in January. In January after studying story mapping, we move on to taking the story elements a little deeper and work on developing the identification and discussion of beginning, middle, end, and events to get us there. In February, we start to transition students into using a Reading Response Journal. After months of studying the story elements, students know what to write a response about. We also go deeper about discussing the main character and other characters in text. At the beginning of our studies, we have found the students are not really ready to go deep with character traits and deeper inferences. We have found great success with focusing our objectives on identification of the main character and telling how they knew that….to go back to the text and explain why they are the main character. If we jump in too far too fast, we find that most students struggle with the skill later on. We do add the deeper layer for students who are ready in small group when appropriate, but most of the students benefit from practicing identification of the main character, how they knew that, how that character felt at one point during the story and the antecedent that made them feel that way. The graphic organizers that go with our studies, help students to truly know what they should discuss or write about to show they understand text. It helps them organize their thinking and go back to the text to cite the evidence that helps them identify and discuss the story elements.
In this zipped file you receive everything you need to teach a Common Core Unit on studying the main character in a first grade classroom.
There are seven different lesson plans set up in the Reader’s Workshop Model of minilesson, meeting, connection, teaching point, active engagement, independent reading, conferencing, and share. The lessons can be used from a 2 – 3 week period and done over more than one day.
There are lessons for interactive read alouds to introduce and practice engaging students in the main character of the story.
There is a list of mentor we have found success when studying the main character.
There are anchor charts already created for you that are colorful and engaging. The anchor charts are in a Smart Board File that is editable if you have a Smart Board. There are also hard copies of the anchor charts that can be tile printed pdf posters that you can put together and write on as you see fit if you don’t have a Smart Board. These can be posted in your classroom. There are also copies of the anchor charts in an 8 ½ by 11” format if you’d like to reuse them in small group instruction or copy packets for your students to keep with them. There are three different anchor charts for different lessons. The first describes what the main character means and why it is important to tell about it. The second is a chart that tells the criteria students can use to help identify the main character. The third is a discussion chart for using past mentor texts. The next two pages of the Smart Board file are large copies of the graphic organizer to model for the students. One they can use as a model for themselves. You can use the large poster version also to write on and post in your classroom for support. The last chart is the rubric used for the Main Character organizer. There is a lesson on how to use this effectively to teach students to begin looking at and assessing their own work. The rubric can be printed in both 8 ½ by 11” or tile printed as a poster to hang in your classroom.
Also included in this file is a banner to display of student work and a poster that states the chant used to help students remember what the main character is. There are also Power Point files of the Smart Board Files for users that don't have a Smart Board.
What’s great about this pack is it almost a ‘blank’ format for students to learn the content through. We have similar things for the other story elements so once the students learn this type of process, you can filter the content through.
The goals for this unit is for students to identify the main character of a story using specific references to text. The Common Core for first grade focuses on students being able to go back to the text to cite specific evidence that helped them draw their conclusions. This unit focuses on and practices that skill. They start whole group, then it filters down to small group and finally independently. Some students may be able to do the more intricate independent work at this point, but the unit differentiates itself so all students are successful. This is the beginning. We are giving students a lesson in how to organize their thinking. We are teaching them how to show they understand text. We tell them to show they understand. This is one way for them to experience success at showing they understand.