BY MARY VAUSE

IRA/NCTE 1 (reading a wide range of print and nonprint texts)
IRA/NCTE 3 (range of strategies to comprehend and interpret texts)
IRA/NCTE 5 (employing wide range of strategies in writing)
SOL 4.7 (student will write effective explanations)
SOL 4.8 (student will edit writing)
Intended Audience: Grade 4 non-inclusion, predominantly African-American and Hispanic class of
students at Greenwood Elementary in Newport News. Based on their writing, most students appear to be
in or near the “syllables and affixes” stage of writing according to Words Their Way.
Background/Overview: The focus is on teaching students how to take a position in response to a
question and also how to support it with evidence from the text.
Behavioral Objectives: Given a read aloud, modeled writing by the teacher, and a class discussion,
students will take a stance in response to a question and support it with evidence from the text.
Resources/Materials, Time, Space: The resources needed are Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree
King Mitchell, chart paper, markers, and magnets to hold the chart paper to the blackboard. You will need
the entire front of the classroom in front of the blackboard. There are 15 fourth-grade students in the class.
You will need 15 minutes to read and discuss the text, 15 minutes to brainstorm and model and discuss
your sample writing response, and at least 15 minutes for students to complete their writing assignments.

                                            The Lesson Proper

Introduction: Hold up the book and tell students it’s about “a little girl living in the South in the early
1900s. It’s about a family member, her great uncle, who she admires a lot.” Tell students there are some
things in the book that they may have learned about in history lessons. Ask, “What was life like for
African-Americans in the South in the early 1900s?” Try to elicit responses such as Jim Crow laws that
kept blacks and whites segregated, different bathrooms and water fountains for blacks and whites, etc.
Next ask, “Who knows what the Great Depression is?” Try to elicit responses about the stock market
crash in 1929, the bank failure, and possible connections to the current recession they may have heard
about in the news recently.
        Tell students, “Pay close attention while I read this book, because afterwards we’re going to do a
writing assignment about the book.”
        Read the book aloud with expression, showing pictures while you read and pausing periodically to
summarize, make connections to history, and ask questions such as the following:
 “What is Uncle Jed’s dream?” [on the page where Uncle Jed is pretending to give his 5-year-old great-
    niece a haircut]
 “Why didn’t people believe that Uncle Jed could open his own barbershop?” [on the page that shows
    Uncle Jed writing a horse across the county to cut a client’s hair]
 “How do you think the little girl’s family feels when they have to wait until all the white patients are
    seen even though their daughter is unconscious?” [on the page in which the family waits in the
    “colored” waiting room at the doctor’s office]
 “How would you feel if you lost all the money for your dream?” [on the page where Uncle Jed has
    just learned that the $3,000 he saved up to buy his barbershop has been lost because of bank failures
    following the stock market crash]
 “Who is this lady in the chair in Uncle Jed’s barbershop? How do we know a lot of time has passed?”
    [on the next to last page in which the narrator, now a grown woman, gets a haircut from Uncle Jed at
    his newly opened barbershop]
   After the final page of the book, ask students what they learned about Uncle Jed’s character, and have
    them give specific examples from the text to support their statements.
         Next, put up a piece of chart paper on the board that reads, “After the stock market crashed and he
lost all his savings, do you think it was a good idea for Uncle Jed to keep saving up money for his
barbershop?” On the same sheet of paper, draw a graphic organizer with “Yes, I agree” on one side and
“No, I disagree” on the other with a line going down the middle of the page. Tell students that there is no
right or wrong answer to this question, but whichever position they take they need to back up with
evidence from the text. Brainstorm with students ideas for each side of the graphic organizer and write
them down. (Examples can include “Uncle Jed was really happy when he finally achieved his dream” on
the agree side, and “Uncle Jed didn’t get his barbershop until he was very old and didn’t get to enjoy it for
very long before he died” on the disagree side.)
         Then on the board beside the graphic organizer, post a writing sample you already completed (in
order to save time) that supports the position that it was a good idea for Uncle Jed to keep saving his
money for his barbershop. In order to encourage them to read all the way through the writing sample,
challenge students to locate spelling errors that you may have “accidentally” made since this is just your
“sloppy copy” / rough draft. Ask students what they notice about the first sentence of this draft, eliciting
that you (the author) stated your position in response to the question. Help students see that after stating
your opinion you backed it up with examples from the text as well as your own reasoning (e.g., “It is
important to follow your dreams”).
         Next, model a writing response that disagrees with the prompt (i.e., “No, I don’t think it was a
good idea for Uncle Jed to keep saving up money for his barbershop”). Make sure the first sentence
explicitly states your opinion and the following three to four sentences back up your opinion with
examples from the text. Challenge students to spot typos or grammatical errors in your draft.
         Finally, tell students that they will decide where they stand in response to this question and will
write a response stating their opinion and then backing it up with evidence from the text and reasoning.
Take down your drafts so that students do not imitate them too closely, but leave up the brainstorming
graphic organizers so that students can refer to it as they write.
Instructional Strategies: Asking the bulleted questions from the previous section during the read aloud
will help students comprehend those points in the text and will also help them recall the evidence they
will need in their written responses.
         When going over your modeled writing responses with students, emphasize the importance of
explicitly stating one’s opinion in a complete sentence and then backing it up with evidence from the text.
Questions to ask can include:
 “Is there a right or wrong answer to this question?”
 “What do I need to do in the first sentence?”
 “Will it be very convincing if I just state my opinion and then don’t back it up?”
Differentiation: The questions asked during the read aloud target different cognitive levels. Some
questions are detail questions, others are inference, others ask for personal connections to the text, etc.
This should allow students of varied ability levels to respond. Also, provide targeted instruction to
individual students as you walk around the room while they write. Some students will need help with
logical reasoning, others with grammatical errors, others with coming up with ideas, etc.
Accommodations/Modifications: Have students with visual impairments sit at the very front of the
classroom. If possible, give them large-print copies of the drafts you plan to write ahead of time. Keep an
eye on students with ADHD/behavioral problems, keeping them involved in the discussion as much as
Closure: As students finish their drafts, have them trade papers with a classmate near them who is also
finished so that they can peer edit each others work. Tell them to check and make sure that their written
response contains an opening sentence that explicitly states their position and that the subsequent
sentences contain supporting evidence from the text.
Formative: During the read aloud and modeled writing, pay attention to students’ responses to questions
in order to ascertain their understanding. For students who are quiet, monitor body language and posture
to determine if they are paying attention.
Summative: Collect students’ written responses and analyze them to determine if they state their position,
support the position with details from the text, use logical examples, and use grade-appropriate spelling
patterns and grammar.


         Students were very attentive during the read aloud, and many were eager to answer questions and
share connections to the text (e.g., “I learned about Rosa Parks. She didn’t give up her seat on the bus”
during the discussion about the Jim Crow South). I was also pleased that the students stayed on task
throughout their writing assignment, and after they finished they peer edited each others’ work quietly.
However, half the class never raised their hand to answer questions or share, even though many in that
category appeared to be listening attentively. I tried calling on a couple students who had not raised their
hands in order to get them to participate, but they were very reticent so I finally just went back to calling
on students who volunteered. It was rather frustrating.
         Looking over the written responses that students turned in, 11 of the 22 students, or exactly half,
adequately stated their position in a complete sentence and supported it with at least two examples from
the text. The other half of the class did not adequately state their position, or did not use adequate
evidence from the text, or both. Many students wrote “Yes” or “No” at the beginning of their paper and
then proceeded straight into evidence form the text. I did not consider this adequate because it could leave
a reader with the question “Yes, what?” or “No, what?” Other students stated their position clearly but
became sidetracked by the secondary theme of Uncle Jed paying for his great-niece’s life-saving surgery
early in the book. While this was an important part of the book as a whole, it was not relevant in agreeing
or disagreeing with the assertion that it was a good idea for Uncle Jed to continue saving money even
after he lost everything in the Great Depression. Some students, including some who adequately stated a
position and provided sufficient evidence to support it from the text, interspersed their writing with
evidence from the text that supported the opposite position. It appears that this kind of writing assignment
is a fairly new concept for these fourth-grade students and that they will need further practice with it in
the future.
         If I teach this lesson again in the future, I will be even more explicit about the need for a complete
first sentence that clearly states the author’s position. I thought I had been quite explicit about this, but I
clearly need to be more so. Perhaps creating a poster that reminds students to do this and hanging it
prominently in the front of the room would help. It would also help to tell students that if they simply
write “Yes” or “No” at the beginning of their paper, it will leave readers wondering “Yes, what?” or “No,
what?” Then when I walk around the room giving students feedback on their writing and spot a lone
“Yes” or “No” on their papers, I can ask “Yes, what?” or “No, what?” and the students will immediately
remember what they need to do. I should also help students more with logical reasoning. In the
brainstorming graphic organizer, I might put one of their ideas in the wrong column to generate a
discussion on how using evidence that supports the opposite side weakens one’s argument. Finally, during
the read aloud I put too much emphasis on the narrator’s sickness and Uncle Jed’s saving her. This is an
important part of the story and it does deserve discussion, but in this type of lesson it sidetracked students
too much. They were too preoccupied with this secondary theme when they should have been focused on
supporting their position.
                 Criteria                       Exceeds Expectation                 Meets Expectation             Does Not Meet Expectation
Intended Audience                         The unique attributes of your      Description of target             Description of target population
Identify the target grade, range of       target population are very         population is general and the     is vague and/or, the
abilities, and prerequisite skills.       clear, and the appropriateness     appropriateness of the lesson     appropriateness of the lesson
                                          of the lesson (for this group)     (for this group) is clear.        (for this group) is not
                                          is supported by prerequisite                                         convincing.
                 (2 pts)                               (2 pts)                            (1 pts)                            (0 pts)
Standards/Objectives                      All state standards are listed,    One or more state standards       Several state standards are
List ALL state standards that apply to    and focus is underlined when       are not listed. Aligned w/        missing and/or vague or not
the lesson, and provide sufficient        appropriate. Aligned w/            objective. Behavior, criteria,    aligned with objectives.
details. Describe the specific behavior   objectives. Behavior, criteria,    and conditions are a bit          Behavior, criteria, and/or
that the students will perform, the       and conditions are clearly and     ambiguous and/or too              conditions are unclear or poorly
conditions under which it will be         concisely written (no              “wordy.”                          written
performed, and the criteria for           unnecessary words).
assessing mastery.
                 (4 pts)                              (4 pts)                             (3 pts)                            (2 pts)
Materials/Time/Space/Background           Materials provided and             All materials are included but    All materials are not included or
Include all materials (and                explained. Lesson is               are unclear or how materials      are poorly organized. Time
explanations if necessary), time/space    manageable in time frame.          are used is unclear. Time         allowed is inappropriate.
requirements and lesson overview.                                            mgt. is questionable.
                                                      (2 pts)                              (1 pt)                           (0 pts)
                 (2 pts)
Lesson Description                        Description is sufficiently        Description is fairly clear but   Description is unclear and
Using a narrative, ensure that            clear to enable a third party to   is wordy and repetitive.          difficult to follow.
introduction is appropriate lead-in to    try the lesson out. Intro, CF,
instructional strategies to be used. A    and closure are clear and
bulleted or numbered list should be       follow a logical progression.
used on a limited basis.                  Student activities reinforce
Differentiation of instruction should     objectives. Lesson plan does
be described based on range of            not exceed three pages,
abilities describe in intended            excluding handouts.
audience. Accommodations and/or
modifications should be described as
needed. Closure reinforces objectives
and/or provides summary or transition
to next lesson. Describe the lesson so
that another teacher could understand
it and implement it without your                      (8 pts)                            (5 pts)                            (4 pts)
presence. Use active voice, direct
address as if you were talking to the
                 (8 pts)
Evaluation Procedure                      The behavior assessed exactly      The behavior assessed closely     The behavior assessed is
Describe the assessment measure for       matches the behavior               resembles the behavior            inconsistent with the behavior
determining whether the lesson’s          described in the objective and     described in the objective and    described in the objective
objective(s) were met.                    description of the lesson.         description of the lesson.        description of the lesson. Rubric
                                          Evaluation rubric and grading      Rubric and/or grading scale       and grading scale are not
                                          scale (when requested) are         are included.                     manageable.
                                          clear and manageable.
                 (4 pts)                               (5 pts)                           (3 pts)                             (2 pts)
Self-Reflection                           The reflection was a               The reflection included the       The reflection did not include all
 After delivery of the lesson, reflect    thoughtful self-reflection of      required information but          of the required information,
on your perception of the                 the lesson including insights      lacked detail and/or specifics    and/or was unclear, lacked
effectiveness of the lesson. Were         into perceived student             as to why aspects of the lesson   detail/specifics to lesson
students engaged, did you meet your       engagement, lesson                 were or were not effective.       effectiveness.
objective – how do you know (use          effectiveness based on
your evaluation information), what, if    observation and assessment
anything, would you change if you         information, and any
were to do the lesson again, plus any     adjustments that you might
other insights into the delivery of the   make if the lesson were
lesson.                                   delivered again.
                 (5pts)                                (5 pts)                           (4 pts)                            (3 pts)

Total:          25 points

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