Tuesday, September 1, 2015


How do teachers find time in their day to teach everything? This is the timeless question that all teachers ask themselves on a daily basis. The answer is to integrate, integrate, integrate!  Sure, sure... everyone has heard this answer before. But, this time we actually tackled integration effectively. We found a meaningful way to integrate science, writing, and close reading into one unit. 

This summer, as I was planning my rocks and minerals unit, I wanted to try to strategically integrate close reading and writing. As I dug into this project, I realized I had a problem. I wanted students to be able to independently close read, code text, take notes, then write. If my young students were going to be able to do all of these things, I knew I would need to provide them with text they could read independently.Yikes! I didn't have the budget or resources I needed to make this a reality. I discussed this issue with my team (The Core Coaches) and we decided the solution was to write text for the students. We wrote a student book for each rock then decided this wasn't sufficient. One level of text wouldn't provide all of our students text they could read independently. We ended up writing four levels of differentiated text for all three rocks!

This unit was a smashing success! I introduced each rock by reading aloud a complex teacher text that we strategically wrote to scaffold this entire close reading and writing process. As I read the teacher text to my students, they were instantly hooked! I asked text dependent questions to help them dig deep into the information and use evidence from the text to support their answers. Text dependent questions are a great way to meet all the Reading Informational Text Core Standards.

Next, we discussed the main idea, key details, unknown words, and confusing parts. Then we coded the text together as a class using the text coding poster.

After digging into the complex text together, I provided each of my students with his or her own text. It was exciting to be able to provide all my students with a text they could be successful with. I carefully scaffolded my lessons so my students could code their own text. 
After coding, we took notes. My note-sheets correlated with the text so it was simple for the students. 
Once we completed the text dependent questions, text coding, and note-taking for each rock, I had my students use their notes to write. For this unit we wrote rock trading cards. They love writing these trading cards and I was impressed with the amount of information they were able to write about rocks. I know the text coding and note-taking really helped my students soak up information so they were able to write amazing products.  

We also did many other fun activities between each close read and text coding lesson. We made rocks out of food, found pet rocks, wrote a poem and a story about our own rocks, and painted rocks.
Do you want to try this in your classroom? It's all in our TPT store. Below is a picture of part of this unit. We have written detailed lesson plans for you to follow, provided text dependent questions, teacher text for all 3 rocks and 4 differentiated printable student text for all 3 rocks. Even the rock trading cards have differentiated options. This pack includes EVERYTHING you need for your rock unit. You do not need to supplement with anything else.

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