Lighthouse Initiative for Texas Classrooms

Grade 6 Sample Lesson

The Building Blocks of Annotation

Annotation while reading, deconstructing objective questions, targeting context clues

Contributed by Jim Lindsay, Episcopal School of Dallas, Dallas, TX

(Click here for downloadable MS Word version.)

Time Needed:

Four class periods with homework and additional lesson options

Materials/Resources Needed:

Class Period 1—Fiction/Non-Fiction and Vocabulary

  • Preparation and Instruction
    • Give Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (columned text version) to each student.
    • Prepare students for reading by differentiating the terms fiction and non-fiction. Remind them that fiction is made up by the author and that non-fiction is real, factual information. Estimated time: 5 minutes.
    • Depending on student understanding and pre-knowledge of the terms, you may choose to do the following warm up:
      • Give each student one yellow and one orange highlighter. (You can choose your own colors, use two different colored crayons, or one pencil and one pen.) Give them the handout "Which is fiction? Which is non-fiction?"
      • Time the students for 90 seconds. For 30 seconds, have them read the two lists of types of writing. Then, for the next 30 seconds, have them highlight in yellow all the examples of fiction. For the third 30 seconds, have them highlight in orange all the examples of non-fiction. Review answers with the students.
    • Inform students that they will now read a piece of non-fiction silently as you read aloud. Tell them to find "A Presidential Address" on their handouts and circle it. You may want to have them write the title of this piece: Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. If necessary, briefly define what an inaugural address is.
    • Provide copies of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (columned text version).
    • Direct students to read the piece silently as you read aloud. Because the vocabulary is mature here, the students may struggle with reading the text on their own. Your verbal emphases and intonations may help their understanding of new words. Redirect at the end of the reading as you see fit.
    • Read the first paragraph and allow students to answer the questions to the side of the reading. Each paragraph's direction should take about two to four minutes.
    • During writing time, travel the room to check for understanding and to answer questions. Do your best to coach the students to puzzle out difficult words and directions on their own. Help only with directions. Estimated time: 20 minutes.
    • After the reading is complete and all questions answered, give students the handout "Reading Comprehension Questions" (10 minutes). You may wish to collect this handout for a grade.
    • Answer key: 1. B, 2. C, 3. C, 4. A, 5. C, 6. A, 7. A, 8. D
    • Closure/final discussion: Ask the students: "What elements of the speech categorize it as non-fiction?"
    • Homework: "Bring the speech home and find five words we did not discuss today that you still do not know the meanings for. Be prepared to discuss those words tomorrow."

Class Period 2—Diction and Vocabulary

  • Preparation and Instruction
    • Begin by asking students to take out their copies of the speech they read yesterday. Also, they will need their five new words homework. Ask students to work in pairs; if the number of students is uneven, create one group of three.
    • Review the strategy One-Two-Three, and give students handout "One-Two-Three." Read the directions with them.
    • Tell students that they have one minute to write down their homework words onto the handout's first column. Next, have them go into the text and find loaded diction that surround the foreign word but seems to have something to do with it by support or by contrast. Feel free to do one together or use the example on the sheet. While they are working, have them define all of the foreign words based on their loaded diction finds. Estimated time: 15 minutes.
    • Have pairs of students branch out and find another pair, thus creating a group of four. Have students compare words they chose and check with one another to see where they matched the other pair's (or came close) and where they differed. Put stars next to the ones that had the same words, but very different meanings. Estimated time: 10 minutes.
    • On the back of the sheet, have the students draw three columns and share words that the other pair did not choose. Fill in the other pair's information, thus creating a longer list of new words. Estimated time: 5 minutes.
    • Check student work for accuracy in their definitions. Correct uneven parts of speech.
    • Closure: Give students index cards or construction paper and markers. Have them make a class set of flash cards for vocabulary enrichment and study. Estimated time: 10 minutes.
    • Give students copy of Alphonse Daudet's "The Last Lesson" (columned text version). Homework: Students will read the story and annotate independently on the side column. You may have to coach the students into understanding the differences between the annotation style of the Lincoln handout, which prompted the students to write about certain details in the text, and this one, which does not.

Class Period 3—Reading Check and Graphic Organizer

  • Preparation and Instruction
    • To review the previous day's lesson, begin by having students take out their One-Two-Three handouts. Give them three to five minutes to "flash study" the words and definitions.
    • Have students put all materials away. Tell them that you will use the flashcards that everyone made yesterday. (You will want to pre-check these cards for accuracy.) You will hold up one piece of construction paper and show everyone the word. They are not allowed to call out. Everyone will look at the word, think about the word, and when the students think they know the correct definition, raise their hands. The idea here is to allow all students the appropriate wait time. Once all hands, or as many hands as you think will go up, are raised, ask one student to give the answer. Feel free to play devil's advocate and ask other students if the participant is correct or not. Continue the game until all words are shown. Then, do it again, faster, and with the expectation that all students will raise their hands. The idea here is to have more students knowledgeable about the words than the previous time. You can make this game more competitive by making two teams, depending on how much time you would like to spend on it. Estimated time: 12-15 minutes.
    • Have students take out their annotated copies of Daudet's "The Last Lesson." Inform students that you will give them a timed reading check. Provide students with the handout Reading Check. They can do the reading check "open book," but they are expected to have already read the story. Collect it for a grade if you like, review the answers. Key to reading check: 1. D, 2. C, 3. A, 4. D, 5. C, 6. B, 7. C, 8. B, 9. D Estimated time: 15 minutes.
    • After the reading check, have students create a graphic organizer with the title "Physical and Emotional Reactions to War." On the left-hand side of the paper, tell students to record three direct quotations that show a cause of the German occupation. On the right, have them write three quotations that illustrate the effects of the impending German occupation of France. Work in pairs. Estimated time: 15 minutes.
    • Closure: Openly discuss findings, emphasizing the personal reactions to war.
    • Homework Journal Question: What are the similarities between Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address and Daudet's "The Last Lesson?" Expected minimum length: 250 words. Warn them that they will be expected to share their entries the next day.

Class Period 4—Developing Journal Responses and Sentence Length

  • Preparation and Instruction
    • Group students into teams of four. Ask them to take 10 minutes to read their journal responses to one another. Monitor as they do. Estimated time: 10 minutes.
    • After each student has read his or her journal, tell students to choose the best one of the group. Ask that student to read the entry to the class. Therefore, you will have one journal entry from each group that the entire class will hear. Estimated time: 10 minutes.
    • Follow up questions: Why did the group decide that this entry was the best? What qualities does it have that make it the best? What details were important to mention that this entry uses? What conclusions does the writer draw about the story and the speech? Estimated time: 10 minutes.
    • Closure: Have students return to their own seats and ask them to reread their own journals. At this time, they may make corrections, add sentences or ideas, and generally develop their responses more. Ask them to take the remainder of the period to do so, making sure they proofread when finished. They will turn their polished entries in for a grade. Estimated time: 15 minutes.
    • Optional (an extension for a block schedule or an additional lesson): If you have time and are so inclined, you can take a moment to teach an important syntactical pattern. Use The AP Vertical Teams Guide for English. You can make these terms a highlighted portion of today's lesson, or you can give it more emphasis and perhaps use it as a means to rewriting for the students' journals.
      • Using page 37 of The AP Vertical Teams Guide for English, teach students about sentence length.
      • Introduce sentence length: telegraphic, short, medium, and long.
      • Short Version: Have the student pinpoint the one telegraphic sentence in Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address: "And the war came." (par. 2). Identify how it is a telegraphic sentence and how long the sentences are around it. Ask, "What is the effect of the telegraphic sentence?" The answer is for elevation. Writers use telegraphics to emphasize an important idea. Long, medium, and short sentences are very important, too. But the use of a telegraphic sends a distinct message to the reader. They are also rare. Most major works have only one, or just a few telegraphic sentences for special emphasis. Have them take home their journals to rewrite and improve. Instruct them to find one special place in their journal to use a telegraphic sentence for emphasis.
      • Long Version: Have half the class take Lincoln's speech home and count how many words are in each sentence. Instruct them to make a chart of each sentence and its length. (They will find only one telegraphic.) Have the second half of the class take home the Daudet story and count each word in each sentence. Tell them to make a chart of each sentence's length. They will find some rhetorical fragments, which we can consider telegraphics. They emphasize specific feelings from the speaker. Look at such examples as "My last French lesson!" (par. 14) or the one truly telegraphic sentence: "See how it is!" (par. 12). For homework, they can complete these charts and rewrite their journals, finding one special place for a telegraphic sentence. Plan to discuss or write about why the student made that specific choice.