SEI Capstone

Nellie Bly Reporter for the Underdog

Introduction

  • Mendon-Upton Regional School District
  • Grade 4
  • We each have one ELL student in our class (Brigham - Level 5 and Evans - Level 4)
  • Brigham: My ELL is Lebanese. He moved to the United States when he was just over one-year-old. He has been educated in American schools since Kindergarten. Arabic is spoken in the home. While his family values education and emphasizes the importance of work ethic and good behavior, their English language skills are developing and as such, they are not always able to help my ELL with schoolwork at home.
  • Evans: My ELL is Greek and was born in the United States but his parents were born in Greece. The family is very involved in the local Greek community. He entered American schools in Kindergarten. He was tested and put on an IEP at the end of first grade. Both parents speak primarily English at home but do not have the content knowledge to support him academically at home. Minimal support is provided in the home because the parents struggle with the academic content and education does not seem to be a priority. They will often schedule vacations throughout the school year.
  • The content of our Capstone is an informational text unit, Nellie Bly Reporter for the Underdog, that focuses on the power of words, especially those of reporter, Nellie Bly.

Lesson Description

Our district uses the Wonders Reading Program. During this particular week, students are exposed to informational text, including biography, so that they can answer the essential question, "How can words lead to change?" In the course of our lesson we used the following core strategies:


  • Seven Step Vocabulary
  • Partner Reading
  • Text Dependent Questions
  • Sentence Frames
  • RAFT
  • Ratiocination


Other strategies used to facilitate core strategies:


  • Turn and Talk
  • Think Aloud
  • Clock Buddies
  • Number Head

Content Objectives

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

  • Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text, “Nellie Bly: Reporter for the Underdog”.
  • Sequence Nellie Bly’s life events and describe how these events brought about change in reporting using the text, “Nellie Bly: Reporter for the Underdog”.

Language Objectives

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


A Level 3/4 ELL will be able to:



  • Orally discuss the events of Nellie Bly’s life after reading” Nellie Bly: Reporter for the Underdog” with a partner and write them in a beginning, middle and end graphic organizer.
  • Listen for signal words in order to put the life events from, “Nellie Bly: Reporter for the Underdog”, in sequence to create a timeline.
  • Read, sort, orally discuss, and write questions related to each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy after reading, “Nellie Bly: Reporter for the Underdog”, Chapter 1, “A Woman in a Man’s World”.
  • Write an obituary or complaint letter using the RAFT strategy after reading, "Nellie Bly: Reporter for the Underdog."



A Level 2 ELL will be able to:


  • Orally (sp) discuss (LF) the events of Nellie Bly’s life after reading” Nellie Bly: Reporter for the Underdog” with a partner and (D) paste pre-printed, visually supported, sequence events onto a beginning, middle and end graphic organizer.
  • Listen (LF) for signal words in order to put the life events from, “Nellie Bly: Reporter for the Underdog”, in sequence to create a timeline (wr) using a (D) preprinted template that includes the signal words.
  • Read, (LF) sort, orally (sp) discuss, and write questions (WR) related to each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy after reading, “Nellie Bly: Reporter for the Underdog”, Chapter 1, “A Woman in a Man’s World” (d) using the sentence starters and (d) teacher created sentence frames and a word bank to aid them in writing questions for the top three levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  • Write (W) an obituary or a complaint letter with a partner after reading, "Nellie Bly: Reporter for the Underdog" (d) using teacher created sentence frames, list of signal words, and a word bank.

Differentiating for our ELLs

Our ELL students are Level 4 and Level 5 students who are generally able to meet content and language objectives with minimal supports. This being said, we are always diligent in preparing accommodations and supports to ensure success.


Accommodations and supports during this lesson include:



  • word banks
  • sentence starters
  • sentence frames
  • a native English speaking partner
  • list of signal words for sequence and cause and effect work
  • visual supports for vocabulary acquisition
  • pre-printed, visually supported, sequence events to be pasted into a beginning, middle and end graphic organizer
  • mentor texts including examples of an obituary
  • friendly letter template

SEI Strategies

Seven Step Vocabulary Strategy

We used this core vocabulary strategy to introduce critical vocabulary words to our ELL students and to students on IEPs. We use the Wonders reading program. In the course of the week our students may read as many as seven different pieces of text all written around the same essential question. Each piece of text includes these eight plus critical vocabulary words. Our reading program provides vocabulary cards to be used with this strategy. In addition to the eight key words, two words, specifically selected for our ELLs are included. These cards are great because they offer visual supports and the word clearly printed on the front. The back of the card includes a teacher script outlining many of the essential seven steps.
SEI 1
In the above video, you will see how I pre-taught vocabulary to my ELL and some other students who would benefit from the Seven Steps Vocabulary Strategy.

Partner Reading

We used partner reading which is a core reading strategy. Our students read the text, "Nellie Bly, Reporter for the Underdog" with a six o'clock partner. While one student read, the other student listened for signal words 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 by tuning into the signal words that indicate sequence. Next the students switched roles.


We used the Numbered Heads strategy to group students. Then, they collaborated in order to complete a beginning, middle, end graphic organizer. They focused on signal words and phrases that keyed them into sequencing so they could highlight Nellie Bly's major life events. These students collaborated to build a timeline of Nellie Bly's life using the text and their graphic organizers to support this work.


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.

Text Dependent Questions

Text dependent questions were used with our students to build their comprehension and develop higher level thinking skills. Students were placed into groups to answer text dependent questions based on a parse of text, Chapter 1 of Nellie Bly Reporter for the Underdog.


The teacher created text dependent questions based on Bloom's Taxonomy that the groups of students needed to answer collaboratively through oral discourse. Next, students shared out there answers using the Number Head Strategy.


Students were then given a visual of Bloom's Taxonomy and were given the task to create 6 questions of their own for a parse of text, chapter 3 in Nellie Bly Reporter for the Underdog. Students again shared out using the Number Head strategy.

SEI video 2
In the above video, you will see how my fourth-grade students were able to combine their reading skills, writing skills, and speaking skills to answer text-dependent questions using the Numbered Heads strategy.

RAFT

The RAFT is a core writing strategy that we used so that our students would have additional opportunities to engage in oral discourse, interact with key vocabulary, and access the content while developing their writing skills.


Role = A newspaper reporter in charge of writing obituaries

Audience = The general public

Form = An obituary

Topic = Announce the death of Nellie Bly and outline her major life events in sequence


The students were grouped using the Numbered Heads strategy. Mentor texts were provided. These mentor texts, two obituaries, allowed the students to better understand this form of writing and it's structure. The students read these obituaries tuning into signal words used with sequenced writing.


During this first writing session, the students were charged with the task of writing a complete draft of Nellie Bly's obituary. The students were encouraged to use their timelines and the text, "Nellie Bly, Reporter for the Underdog," to further support the completion of their task.

RAFT
In the above video, my level 5 ELL student shares his group's RAFT with another group.

Ratiocination

Ratiocination is a core writing strategy used for editing and revising writing pieces. A code was created by the teachers for students to use in order to edit their obituaries created during the RAFT lesson. The code included circling signal words in blue, underlining past tense verbs in green and underlining alternate sentences in orange and purple. The teacher modeled the revision strategy using a student's writing sample and the document camera, projecting it on the smart board as the students followed along.


Once each key revision strategy was modeled using the code, students were partnered up to continue the revision process. Each students was given a copy of the code. Keeping the editing limited to 3 critical areas was less distracting for our ELL students and allowed them to be more successful using the revision code. Students were then asked to make a final copy of the RAFT writing piece once revisions were complete. Students enjoyed this process. There writing included more signal words and past tense verbs as an outcome of this process.

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In the above video, you will see how my students were introduced to the Ratiocination revision strategy.

Marie Brigham and Leigh-Ann Evans

We are fourth grade teachers from the Mendon-Upton Regional School District with a combined 33 years of teaching experience. We are passionate about teaching and feel like this SEI course has better prepared us to meet the needs of the English Language Learners in our classrooms.