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Close Read-Aloud in the Primary Grades, Part 2: Deeper Analysis and Culminating Task

This is the second video in a two-part series that features Sara Metz and her Kindergarten class at Explore Elementary in Thornton, Colorado. Using the EL Education Language Arts Curriculum and its Close Read-Aloud guide, Sara and her students engage in analysis of the text, Come On, Rain!, as part of a module on the topic of weather. Sara strikes a balance of rigor and joy as she guides her students through a carefully crafted sequence of text-dependent questions driving toward a focus question, total participation techniques to engage all learners, and a culminating task. To hear Sara describe her process, watch the companion video, Behind the Practice: Close Read-Aloud in the Primary Grades with Sara Metz.


- [Narrator] This is part-two of the Close Read-Aloud in the Primary Grades, video series. In part-one of this video, Sara read the entire text aloud to students, and introduced the focus question. She then began re-reading key sections and guiding students to interacting with the text. Following a carefully crafted sequence of text-depending questions that lead to answering the focus question. In the second part of the video series, Sara will continue to engage all students in deeper analysis, and guide them through a culminating task.

- So, the focus question for today. How does the rain coming affect the character? A deeper gray descends. Descend means to come down.

- [Narrator] During session four, Sara re-reads the next section of, Come On Rain, continuing to deepen student thinking through wait time, student talk and modeling. Students add thinking to the co-constructed, After The Rain anchor chart. Identifying new vocabulary, which moves them toward answering the focus question, how does the cool, wet weather affect the characters?

- Another thing I did with the sentence frame was, I had two kids model it for the whole class. Not just what the sentence frame should sound like, but what the other person should be doing at the same time. And I picked two kids specifically who I knew had trouble focusing during those breakaway sessions in the think-pair-shares. That way, when they went to go sit, they had already had the opportunity to say that and show others that they could do it as well. I try to prioritize based on what the big learning is. For them to have to think about how the weather affects Mama and the other characters.

- The music sounds fun and sparkly now. Why do you think the music changed? Why does it sound different? I noticed when I did use wait time, the kids were able to grapple with what they’re trying to learn. It’s so much more beneficial for them to have that time to think. Let’s see. I see a lot of people have some ideas. Sam, What do you think? Why does the music sound sparkly? What if there was still no rain? How would it sound?

- [Children] Boring.

- Boring. We’re thinking about number two focus question right now. How does the rain coming affect the characters?

- [Narrator] During session five the teacher finishes reading the text. Re-visiting the focus question, they conclude with a writing and drawing activity that helps students synthesize their learning from the entire Close Read-Aloud.

- Soothed means that you feel calm and you feel comfort, and you feel relief. Every day we focused on different pages, but getting at that same focus question of, how does the weather affect Mama and Tess? Can you show me, what would you feel like if you were being soothed? You feel calm, and you feel comfort. Is there anything that soothes you? Mario? Franklin? Swimming soothes you? I like how you use the whole sentence, he said, “Swimming soothes me.” We finished up the last page and then started our culminating task. Which was to compare how Mama felt before the rain, and how she felt after the rain. They had to draw and write about it. I choose to model for them how to use the before and after the rain response sheet, using a different character.

- [Child] H.

- H. Ohh. Te. Tess feels h-h-hot. So I wrote about Tess. You guys are gonna write about Mama. B. Partner. After the Rain. Mama. Go.

- [Narrator] Sara choose to add this modeling based on her students needs. Following the Close Read-Aloud guide, she also has students talk as a group and with partners before they work independently on the culminating task. This oral rehearsal is a crucial scaffold for their writing.

- And how does Mama feel after the rain?

- [Children] Good.

- She feels soothed and fresh. So these are some of the things that you guys can use when you’re writing your sentences, okay? First step is, you draw your picture of before the rain and after the rain, how does Mama feel. Then we’re gonna write our sentence, okay? You also have your, hot-dry words in orange, and your cool-wet words in blue. When they were writing, I saw kids going up to the anchor charts that we co-created together and pointing at words. The books on the tables, all of them were open. The kids were finding pages, and looking at pictures and using words directly out of the book. What does she do after the rain?

- [Child] She gives Tess a hug.

- She gives Tess a hug, so you could say, “Gives Tess a hug.” We could use our sounds to spell those out. Looking through some of the work from the Close Read, really thinking about what I want them to do for the assessment, which is coming up in the next unit. They’re going to need to be able to talk about the characters, talk about the events and the setting.

- [Narrator] Sara will analyze her students work on the culminating task, to gauge each students readiness for the upcoming unit assessment, and to drive instruction. This task gives Sara information about each students mastery of standards, content knowledge and use of vocabulary.

- The curriculum has taught me that rich content, that kids can relate to, and that kids buy into, are gonna help them develop their language. Because if it’s something they’re interested in they’re gonna want to learn more about it.

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