Read-Write-Think Aloud

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					                             READ WRITE THINK ALOUD LESSON
                                    HEATHER BEAVER
                                   DECEMBER 10, 2010

4.7    The student will write effective narratives, poems, and explanations.
       a) Focus on one aspect of a topic.
       c) Organize writing to convey a central idea.
       d) Write several related paragraphs on the same topic.
       e) Utilize elements of style, including word choice and sentence variation.

4.8    The student will edit writing for correct grammar, capitalization, spelling, punctuation, and
       sentence structure.
       a) Use subject-verb agreement.
       e) Use commas in series, dates, and addresses.
       g) Use correct spelling for frequently used words, including common homophones.

Intended Audience: This lesson will be taught to a class of 15 fourth grade students with a
range of reading and writing abilities. Prerequisite skills include basic knowledge of the
writing process, including: how to write paragraphs focused on a single topic; basic
understanding of standard grammar (writing complete sentences; how to incorporate correct
punctuation in a sentence, including commas, periods, and exclamation marks).

Background/Overview: In this lesson, students will demonstrate comprehension of the story
Wilma Unlimited by discussing pertinent elements of the text orally, then responding in
writing to a prompt connected to the text. The teacher will model the writing process for the
students, emphasizing correct grammar usage.

Behavioral Objectives:
    Given a read-aloud of the story Wilma Unlimited, students will orally discuss
      predictions and comprehension questions about the text with 100% participation.
    Given the story Wilma Unlimited, students will write and edit a response to the
      prompt posed by the teacher using a variety of writing strategies, with 100%

Resources/Materials, Time, Space:
    Space: Classroom
    Time needed: 45 minutes (Introduction: 5 minutes; Read-Aloud: 10 minutes;
      Discussion of the Text: 10 minutes; Teacher Modeling of the Writing Component: 5
      minutes; Student Writing: 15 minutes)
    Materials: Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull; overhead projector; paper and pencil
      for each student

                                      The Lesson Proper

Introduction: (5 minutes) Tell students that today, we are going to read a biography called
Wilma Unlimited. Ask students what a biography is, then remind them that biographies are
non-fiction stories. Ask students if they have ever watched the Olympic Games, and ask
them why people might enjoy watching the Olympics. Ask students if they can name any
athletes who have been in the Olympics, and then ask them to describe some of the things
people must do in order to qualify for participation in the Olympics. Tell students that today
you are going to read a story called Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the
World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krell. Tell students this book is about Wilma Rudolph,
the first woman to win three Olympic gold medals in a single Olympic games. Ask the
students to think about the significance of the title. Why did the author use the word
“unlimited?” What might this mean? Have the students share their ideas, then to continue to
think about the significance of the title as you start reading the story.
Instructional Strategies:
Read Aloud: Read the story aloud to the students. During reading, ask students the
following questions: What might the author mean when she wrote “Most babies weren’t
Wilma Rudolph?” Why do you think that? (After page 1); The author says that children who
got polio either died or were permanently crippled. Do you believe the rumors that Wilma
would never walk again? Why? (After page 3); Besides her disability, what other difficulties
did Wilma have to deal with as a child? (If necessary, guide students to notice the picture of
Wilma on the bus on page 5 and the fact that she was not allowed to attend school because
she couldn’t walk. Also discuss racial discrimination during the time period, after page 10);
Think about the word “unlimited” in the title and all of the difficulties Wilma has faced in
her life so far. What do you predict might happen as the story continues? (After page 6); Did
you notice how the author’s tone changes at the beginning of page 8? What do you think this
means? (Turn the page to full page spread of Wilma walking in church on pages 15-16); Why
has the illustrator chosen to use two full pages for this illustration? What do you think that
means? What do you think the author means when she writes that her life is “beginning all
over again?” (After page 20); We just read that Wilma is under a lot of pressure during the
first race: she is on TV, and she has a swollen ankle. How do you think this might impact
Wilma’s ability to run the race? Is this the first time she has had to face many difficulties at
once? (After page 26); Once again, the odds are stacked against Wilma as she begins the
400-meter relay race. (Turn the page) But notice on this page, the illustrator has again
decided to use two full pages for this picture. Where did we see this happen before? What
do you think it means now?
Think Aloud: After the read-aloud is complete ask the students for their reaction to the story.
Ask them to reflect once again on the significance of the title: Why did the author choose the
title Wilma Unlimited? Then introduce the writing prompt to the students by asking them:
“In our story, Wilma had to practice very hard as a child so that she could make her
paralyzed leg stronger. It wasn’t easy at first, but soon she was able to walk without her
brace. Are there things you can do now that were difficult for you at first?” Have the
students discuss this question with partners. Tell the students that they are going to have a
chance to write about this question. Model for students how they could answer the question
on the overhead projector (See modeled response, attached). While modeling the writing
process, think out loud various writing strategies, emphasizing subject-verb agreement,

comma usage and word choice. After writing the piece, re-read the work, and circle words
and phrases that need changed or altered. Emphasize that each sentence needs to make
sense. Tell students that they will now write their own piece, and remind them to edit their
work and to pay attention to the various elements (complete sentences, punctuation, spelling)
that you just demonstrated for them.
Write: Give the students the remainder of the allotted time period to complete their own
written responses to the question: Are there any things that you can do now that were
difficult for you at first?
Differentiation: While the students write, circulate around the room and offer students
individual assistance as needed.
Accommodations/Modifications: No special accommodations or adaptations are necessary
for this lesson.
Closure: Close the lesson by asking student volunteers to share some of their responses. Ask
students to consider how their own experiences are similar and different from Wilma’s story
in Wilma Unlimited.
Formative: Were the students able to correctly answer the comprehension questions during
the read-aloud? Were the students actively participating in all aspects of the lesson?
Circulate the room while the students are writing. Were the students able to follow the
teacher’s writing model, paying close attention to the various writing strategies that were
emphasized during the lesson?
Summative: Collect student responses, and assess the content to see if the lesson objectives
were met.


       I delivered my read aloud-think aloud-write aloud lesson to 15 fourth graders

yesterday, and I am very pleased with the results of my lesson! I chose Wilma Unlimited by

Kathleen Krull as the text, and this turned out to be a perfect choice. I introduced the lesson

by asking the students to talk a little bit about what they know about the Olympics, then we

discuss the title and the significance of the author’s use of the word “unlimited.” The

students were eager to share their thoughts with me, and they clearly had quite a bit of

background knowledge about the Olympics coming into the lesson. In order to set a purpose

for reading, I asked the students to think about the possible significance of the book’s title as

I read to them.

       My skills at reading aloud to children have improved dramatically throughout this

semester! During the read-aloud, I asked the students several comprehension questions along

the way. The students were thinking about the title of the book like I asked them too,

because they referred back to “unlimited” in some of their predictions. I was happy to see a

variety of students willing to participate in the read-aloud discussion, but I also made an

effort to include some of the children who were not as active in the conversation. Overall,

the read-aloud portion of the book was a success. After the book was over, the kids started

asking me questions about Wilma Rudolph, so I had the opportunity to open up to the

“Author’s Note” page at the back of the book and share some more information with them. I

was very pleased that they were so interested in the topic.

       For the write-aloud, I reminded the students about how Wilma Rudolph was not born

a great athlete. In fact, she had a disability, and she had to work hard and practice to

overcome many difficulties in order to make it to the Olympics. I asked the students to think

about something in their own lives that may have been difficult at first, but that they have

gotten better at over time with hard work. I let the students share their thoughts with their

partners for a few minutes, and then I called their attention back to me as I prepared to write

my own response to the prompt. I decided to write about my piano lessons as a child,

something that was very hard for me at first, but which I got very good at over the course of a

few years. During the write-aloud, I especially wanted to focus on three grammatical

features outlined in the 4th grade SOLs for writing: comma usage, subject-verb agreement,

and proper spelling of common words. As I wrote my response to the students, I thought

aloud my thinking process, and really emphasized these three features. The students watched

me as I wrote, and many started to catch the mistakes that I was making. I read through my

writing sample when I was finished, and guided the students to notice how I was able to pick

up on spelling errors, incorrect verb use, and other errors when I read my writing aloud. I

told the students that they were now going to have an opportunity to write as well, and that I

wanted them to keep in mind the things that we discussed as I wrote my own piece.

       Some of the students seemed to have trouble thinking about what to write for the

prompt, but most students jumped right in and started writing. I circulated the room as the

students worked, reminding them to pay attention to the grammar features we discussed, and

guiding them to re-read their writing in order to find any words that didn’t make sense or

grammar features that needed fixed. Unfortunately, the students did not get to develop their

writing as much as I would have liked, because it was at the very end of the school day and

they had to start getting ready to go home. We had about ten minutes for writing.

       Based on the lesson objectives, I think my lesson was an overall success. The

students were active participants in the read-aloud, which was my first objective. Although

some of the students were quiet, I had everybody’s attention and never had to stop to refocus

the group for being distracted. All of the students who did speak during the read-aloud were

discussing the elements of the book. For my second objective, I wanted the students to write

and edit a piece of writing following my modeling during the write-aloud. I was successful

in this as well, because every student provided me with a sample of their writing. My

analysis of the student work shows that not all of the students stayed focused on the prompt

that I had given them. Instead of discussing a difficulty that they were able to overcome with

hard work and practice, a few students wrote about a time when they were injured and

couldn’t do their normal activities (making connections to Wilma’s disability). I also noticed

that many of the students did not use commas like I modeled, and they misspelled some of

their words. It is interesting to see the range of responses that I collected from these students.

Some children were able to develop responses that were clearly focused on the prompt, and

that utilized proper grammar and spelling. Other responses were more disconnected, and

required more intensive editing on the part of the student. It was a wonderful experience for

me to work with an upper-level class in order to see the variety of strategies students at this

age level use in the writing process.

       I would love to do this lesson again with my future students. Wilma Unlimited is an

engaging book that the students love, and most children were able to bring a fair amount of

background knowledge to the text. If I were to teach this lesson again, I would probably

modify the writing prompt. While most children were able to write about something they

were able to overcome with practice, there were some other students who really had

difficulty thinking about something to write about. Next time, I would like to ask a more

open-ended question that will not limit the students’ responses so much. In addition, I would

only teach this lesson, or any other writing lesson, at a time when I know I will not be

interrupted by lunch, recess, or the end of the day. Many of the students were really on to

something with their writing, but were cut short when they had to start getting ready to go

home. I don’t think some of the students even had an opportunity to edit their work. The

writing process takes time, and students need a sufficient work period to think about their

ideas, write them out, and check their work.