Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy holidays!

Mrs. Earl wishes all of her students and their families a wonderful holiday season!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Putting It All Together

Thursday and Friday of this week will be the post-assessment for the informational reading unit.  After learning, and reviewing, and practicing a variety of reading strategies, students will need to demonstrate their ability to:

  • generate ideas about the central idea of a text by asking, “What is this mostly about? What is the author saying about this topic?”
  • look for patterns and connections by asking themselves, “Why does this keep coming up? What might the author be showing us with these patterns? What connections are being made throughout the text?”
  • connect specific, relevant details in a text to the central idea by looking for supporting ideas that support the central idea and summarizing key events and ideas by asking themselves, “Which events are important to the central idea?”
  • recognize and track connections among individuals, ideas, and events as they read by roadmapping and asking themselves: “How are the individuals, ideas or events related? How do they connect? What idea do I have about what this text is saying?”
  • know that authors use specific words or phrases to create a tone and think to themselves, “What central idea is the author developing? How do these words or phrases impact the central idea?”
  • identify and differentiate between words with connotative, figurative, and technical meanings that connect to the purpose.
  • identify when an author uses figurative language by locating examples of analogies and allusions to other texts.
  • pay attention to how an author has structured a text and think, “Why would the author use this structure? What is he or she trying to show me?”
  • reflect on a feature of text and identify how it relates to the central idea by asking, "Why did the author choose to include this feature in the text? How does this feature contribute to the central idea?”
  • look for particular sentences within a paragraph that develop or refine a key concept (central idea) and ask, “What role do these sentences play in developing the concept or idea? How does this specific sentence add to the meaning of the central idea?”
  • identify specific claims within a text by reviewing the supporting ideas around the central idea and assess whether the claim is sound by asking, “Does this make sense? Is there enough evidence that supports the claim?”
  • recognize when an author introduces information that is irrelevant to the claim (or central idea) and think, “What does this have to do with the claim (or central idea)?” 

Analyzing Text Features

Students have been learning about the importance of paying attention to and analyzing the use of text features in informational writing. To aid in that review, see below:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Reviewing Text Structure

HW Smith Boys Basketball Team

The season is extended this year so that the boys and other HW Smith students can participate in an intramural league when we return to our building in January.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Exploring the Impact of Word Choice on Meaning

Students will continue to read and analyze Flesh and Blood So Cheap this week.  Instead of focusing on the determining the central idea, students will investigate the impact of word choice on meaning and tone. After a few days of practice, students will complete a practice assessment in preparation for next week's end of unit exam.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Main Idea Songs

Although a little silly, check out these teacher-generated songs to help students determine the main or central idea of a text:

Determining the Central Idea

As part of our informational text unit, students have been refining their ability to find and explain the central idea of a passage.  Here are some additional hints from Scholastic. com:


Text of Link
To find clues to topic:
a) Look at the title.
b) Look at the first and last paragraph—the topic is usually named.
c) Ask yourself: What is discussed throughout the whole selection? What subject spreads
across the whole text?
d) Look at captions, pictures, words in bold, headings, and so forth for clues to topic. What
do all of these have in common?
e) Remind yourself: The topic must include all the major details and events from the selection.
Caution: Not every detail has something to do with the topic. The topic is the common
element or connection between major details.

f) What do all major details share in common?

Check Yourself: It’s Not the True Topic if…
a) It’s too general or too big. (Topic statement suggests or could include many ideas not
stated in the text.)
b) It’s off the mark, totally missing the point.
c) It only captures one detail, rather than all of the key details.
d) It captures only some of the details, for example, maybe you didn't think about the

Questions to Check Yourself:
a) Does the topic I’ve identified give an accurate picture of what the whole selection is about?
b) Was I as specific as possible?
c) After naming the topic, can I now specifically picture in my mind what happened or was communicated in the text? or might I picture something different that also fits my topic statement? If so, how can I change my topic statement to correct the problem?

Authors often plant important ideas in:
a) Details that reflect or refer to the title.
b) Details at the beginning of a text.
c) Details at the end.
d) Surprises, revelations, whenever your expectations are not met.
e) Repetition.
f) Lots of attention given to a detail, for instance, long explanation or description.
g) Subheads and italicized text.
h) Changes in character, tone, mood, setting, plot twists.
i) A question near the beginning or the end.

Check Yourself: It’s Not a Key Detail if…
a) It’s interesting, but it doesn't develop the topic/lead to the central focus.
b) It remind us of something and is even personally important, but if you were to remove it
from the piece, the piece wouldn't lose any significant meaning or impact.

Questions to Check Yourself:
a) Are all the details related to the topic?
b) How do the key details relate to each other?
c) What pattern do they make?
d) What point do they repeat or add up to?

3. IDENTIFY THE CENTRAL FOCUS (the main idea or point the author makes about 
the topic):
a) The statement of central focus you name must make a point about the topic and cover
the whole selection.
b) Ask yourself: Is the central focus directly stated? If not, it must be inferred.
c) Which details help me decide on the central focus? Why are these details important?
d) The central focus considers how the details relate to one another or lead to one another (what caused or led to what).
e) The central focus must consider the ending and how the details or events led to this final

Check Yourself: It’s Not the Central Focus Statement if…
a) It is so literal and specific it doesn’t allow the reader to apply the main idea to his
own life.
b) It is too general—more like a topic statement than a main idea.
c) It is true but misses the point of the text. Wasn’t what the author was talking about.
d) It misses the point.
e) It only fits one detail or event, not the whole text.
f) It does not incorporate all details.
g) It doesn’t fit ending or final situation.

Questions to Check Yourself:
a) What point do the key details repeat and add up to?
b) Is the central focus a statement about the topic?
c) Is it something useful that can help you to think or act in the world?
d) Also consider: Do you agree with the statement as applied to life? Why or why not?