I gather my students on the carpet in front of me and begin discussing Thanksgiving. All my students are ELL and have not celebrated an American Thanksgiving. This lesson is for fun, I love to read this story. I can see me as a teacher reacting just as the children did.
We have been discussing and reading about "Thanksgiving" because Thanksgiving day is this week. We have learned about the Pilgrims and the Indians and how people in America celebrate this holiday. This book is kind of funny because is it about a kindergarten class, just like you that takes a field trip to a turkey farm. What do you think they will see at the farm?
We use a circle map to brainstorm what we think will be on the turkey farm.
I have a video about a farmer who raises turkeys, let's watch it and see if we can see all the things from the circle map.
I show the youtube video and we compare what we put on our circle map to what we saw on the video. I like to show videos to front load information about a new topic. Some students in my ELL Class do not have background knowledge to draw on about some American traditions. Making connections to prior knowledge is important for the students to truly comprehend the topic and be able to write about it. To front load information I often show videos, pictures or realia.
I begin to read the story, Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving. I always fall into the rhythm and flow of this story and have to make myself stop to explain vocabulary or ideas to my students. It is important to my ELL students that I stop and ask questions to make sure they understand what we are reading. I don't want them to get bored or feel overloaded with information they don't understand. If they don't understand the story and all it's little nuances, they won't be able to write an explanatory paper on it.
I stop on the second page and ask them;
"The story says they are going on a field trip. What is a field trip? A field trip is when the class gets to go on a bus and visit some place. Where are these children going? To a turkey farm, that's right. They must be studying about Thanksgiving Day, just like we are."
I stop on the next page and ask;
"What does it mean when it says that they have visions of drumsticks dancing in their brains? What is a drumstick? A drumstick is the cooked leg of a turkey. It is so delicious to eat the drumstick. The children must love to eat drumsticks if they are thinking about them."
I stop on page 14 (I had to count, the pages are not marked) and ask:
"What does a turkey say? Yes, everyone gobble like a turkey. Do the children like the turkeys? Do the turkeys like the children? So do they like each other like friends? Yes, they do."
I stop on page 17 and ask:
"Why does the farmer have an ax? He is going to use the ax to kill the turkeys. The farmer has to kill the turkeys so we can cook them and eat them for Thanksgiving. How do the children feel about the farmer using the ax? They are sad and upset."
I read on to page 21 and ask:
"The children do not look so sad now. What happened to make them not sad? Look close at the pictures of the children, what do you see? Oh my goodness, they hid those turkeys under their shirts! That was so smart".
I stop on page 23 and ask;
" Hmmm, Mr. McNugget can't find his turkeys. Where did they go? You are right they went with with the children on the bus."
Before turning the last page I try to get some predictions about what the children did with their turkey.
"What do you think the children did with the turkeys? Do you think they will eat them for dinner or keep them as a pet? Do you think your mom would let you bring a turkey home? Hmmmm, let's see what they do with the turkeys."
I read the last page and we discuss every turkey in every window.
In response to the story, I want them to write an explanatory paper that has two to three sentences. We discuss what we could say about the story.
"We are going to write about our favorite part of the story. So I want you to think very hard about part of the story you liked the best. I liked the part when the children were gobbling and giggling together and I liked the part where they stuffed the turkeys up their shirts and hid them from Mr. McNugget. So think about your favorite part and you can write about it. We will write at least two sentences. Let me show you how to do that."
I model writing two sentences on the smart board.
"We will use the sentence frames: The _______ are ______ . They ________. Let's write a few sentences for practice. 'The turkeys are fat. They do not know they will be eaten.' 'The farmers are busy. They take care of the turkeys.' ' The children are sad. They hide the turkeys in their shirts.' ' The farmers are sad. They can not find the turkeys.'
"So everyone think about what part you liked. Then I want you to write about what happened during your favorite part and why it happened. Remember to use a capitol at the beginning of your sentence, spaces between your words and a period at the end. I will come around and help you sound out your words. You are all good writers and know how to write the sounds you hear in a word."
I remind them of conventions because we always forget them. And we are beginning to phonetically spell their words. We sometimes use our sounding arm to tap the sounds in the word and them write the letter as we come to it's sound. Encouraging them to use conventions and write phonetically are standards that I feel I am always working on. If they can spell phonetically, them they can read what they write.
I have class jobs as my part of my learning community and so I send my paper passers at this time to pass out the papers. I dismiss my students today by row color. I send the purple row, the blue row, the green row the orange row and the red row to stand up and get their pencil boxes from their cubbies. They sit down at their tables and begin to write. I walk around an prompt them by using sounds or helping them choose what they want to write about.
When they have finished writing their sentences and drawing their pictures, they sit on the carpet and read library books until most of the students are finished. I collect the papers as they go to the carpet.
When all are finished writing we put away the library books and gather on the carpet. I call them up one at a time to read their sentences and display their drawings. I call the up a row at a time to the front of the class. My students feel more secure and more willing to read to the class when they are surrounded by their peers. We applaud or cheer after each reading.
At the end of the day I showed this story retell video. I like to show videos that reinforce the story, content and vocabulary. We have a discussion about what they saw on the video that they didn't see in the book. I love to watch them so engrossed in the the video and hear the comments they make to each other.