SEI Capstone

Into the Soil

Introduction

  • Watertown Public Schools
  • Grade 3
  • I have one ELL student in my class (Sawera - Level 1)
  • Sawera: My ELL is from Packastain. She moved to the United States in February of this year. She has been educated in her country's school systems. Pushtu is spoken in the home.
  • The content of my Capstone is an informational text, Into the Soil by: Lincoln Bergman and P.David Pearson, that focuses our science unit Soil and Habitats.

Lesson Description

My district uses the Seeds of Science Roots of Reading Program. Throughout this science unit students are exposed to many informational texts. Using the book Into the Soil, I will use the following strategies to have students answer the questions What is soil? Where can we find it? and What is it good for?


  • Seven Step Vocabulary
  • Turn and Talk
  • Think Aloud
  • Partner Reading
  • Shoulder Buddy
  • Sentence Frame

Content Objective

Content Objective: As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain: What soil is?, Where it can be found? and What it is good for?
  • Identify 3 types of soil.
  • List organisms that call soil their home.
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Language Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:


A Level 1 ELL will be able to:


  • Students will orally say and practice the vocabulary found in the text with the teacher and discuss the vocabulary used in the text with partners.
  • Students will work in partners to identify soil and where it can be observed.
  • Students will work in partners to identify text features.
  • Students will work with a word bank to fill in simple sentences


A Level 2 ELL will be able to:

  • Students will listen and read aloud with a partner, taking turns thinking of questions about the text to promote comprehension.
  • Students will work with vocabulary words to fill in more complex sentences
  • Students will list text features in the book.
  • Students will read aloud a page to other student, partner will listen and then ask some questions they thought of while listening to the text.
  • Students will list some living things found in soil

A Level 3 ELL student will be able to:
  • Students will work with vocabulary words to fill in most complex sentences.
  • Students will use the book to observe, list and identify the text features and functions they provide.
  • Students will use the think aloud strategy to read aloud, write down and ask questions of the text and write and tell a summary of the text.
  • Students will use the book to observe where soil can be found and illustrate a picture of it.

Differentiating for ELL Students

Accommodations and supports during this lesson include:


  • word banks
  • sentence starters
  • sentence frames
  • a native English speaking partner
  • visual supports for vocabulary acquisition

SEI Strategies

Seven Step Vocabulary Strategy

I used this core vocabulary strategy to introduce critical vocabulary words to the ELL students. Teacher says the word. Student repeats.
1. SOIL: I SAY YOU SAY 3 TIMES

2. Teacher states the word in context from the mentor text.

2. IT IS THE GROUND. SOME PEOPLE CALL IT DIRT. SCIENTISTS CALL IT SOIL. SOIL IS UNDER EVERYTHING

3. Teacher provides the dictionary definition(s).

3. The top layer of the earth's surface in which plants can grow, consisting of rock and mineral particles mixed with decayed organic matter and having the capability of retaining water.

4. Explains meaning with student-friendly definitions.

4. SOIL: A MIXTURE OF ROCKS, WATER, AIR, PARTS OF DEAD ORGANISMS, AND TINY LIVING ORGANISMS.

5. Highlights features of the word: polysemous, cognate, tense, prefixes, etc.

5. Soiled, soil·ing, soils

6. Engages students in activities to develop word/concept knowledge. The 1 Minute TTYP (Turn to Your Partner) & use the word 5-6 times in complete thoughts or sentences, ping pong style. Ping pong style turn taking in the exchange so that no one partner dominates Once in a while, teachers can check in by asking, “Who wants to tell me what your partner said?”

6. TELL YOUR SHOULDER BUDDY, HOW YOU WOULD USE THE WORD SOIL.

7. Teacher reminds and explains to students of how new words will be used. There is NO writing by students at this time. This is where the teacher explains that students should use this word in their homework, classwork, reading summaries, etc.

7. IT IS UNDER US. IT IS ALL OVER THE LAND. IT HELPS THINGS GROW. SEEDS SPROUT IN IT. ROOTS GROW THROUGH IT. IT’S THE GROUND AND IT IS UNDER OUR FEET AND OUR HOMES. WHERE CAN YOU SEE SOIL WHERE CAN YOU TOUCH SOIL WHAT DOES SOIL SMELL LIKE WHAT DOES SOIL SOUND LIKE

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Think Aloud

Think-Alouds have been described as "eavesdropping on someone's thinking." With this strategy, teachers verbalize aloud while reading a selection orally. Their verbalizations include describing things they're doing as they read to monitor their comprehension. The purpose of the think-aloud strategy is to model for students how skilled readers construct meaning from a text.
  1. Begin by modeling this strategy. Model your thinking as you read. Do this at points in the text that may be confusing for students (new vocabulary, unusual sentence construction).
  2. Introduce the assigned text and discuss the purpose of the Think-Aloud strategy. Develop the set of questions to support thinking aloud (see examples below).
    • What do I know about this topic?
    • What do I think I will learn about this topic?
    • Do I understand what I just read?
    • Do I have a clear picture in my head about this information?
    • What more can I do to understand this?
    • What were the most important points in this reading?
    • What new information did I learn?
    • How does it fit in with what I already know?

Partner Reading

I used partner reading which is a core reading strategy. Our students read the text, "Into the Soil" with a partner. While one student read, the other student listened as he followed along in the text. When the first reader is finished reading, the listening student summed up what he learned about the content on that page. Next the students switched roles.


This strategy really enabled our ELLs to build their reading skills. Having a partner summarize what was read by the ELL took some of the pressure off of the ELL to read and comprehend simultaneously. The writing tasks held the students accountable and gave them an authentic reason to read and comprehend.

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Sentence Frames

Sentence frames are sentences the teacher writes, then removes one or more word from . A word bank can be provided for students with content specific words, for example. So a student who has limited writing skills in English can complete sentences such as: Plants need, ________, air, and light to grow. The _______ of the plant take in water from the soil. The ______ of the plant carries the water to the leaves" and so on instead of having to write an open response stating what they know about plants.
  • Continue with Soil and Habitats Unit
  • Use Mentor Text Into the Soil
  • Students will use sentence starters to complete tasks, some will be fill in the blank with word bank, others will grow with difficulty, using complex sentences and no word bank.

Video Clip on Sentence Frames

Susan Monfette

I am a third grade teacher from the Watertown Public School District with 17 years of teaching experience. I enjoy teaching and learning. This SEI course has better prepared me to meet the needs of the English Language Learners in my classroom.