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COMMON CORE STANDARDS
Reading Informational Text
RI.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
RI.3.2 Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.
RI.3.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 topic or subject area.
RI.3.7 Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
W.3.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
W.3.2(a) Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.
W.3.2(b) Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.
W.3.2(d) Provide a concluding statement or section.
W.3.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing (editing for conventions should demonstrate command of language standards 1–3 up to and including grade 3).
W.3.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
Speaking and Listening
SL.3.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
SL.3.1(a) Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
SL.3.1(b) Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
SL.3.1(c) Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others.
SL.3.1(d) Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.
SL.3.2 Determine the main ideas and supporting detail of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
SL.3.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
L.3.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships (e.g., “After dinner that night we went looking for them”).
DESCRIPTION OF UNIT
This Grade 3 unit titled “Extreme Weather: Content Literacy – Science” from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is intended to be completed in approximately three weeks of integrated ELA/Literacy and science instruction. The focus for this unit centers on the use of text features, text structure, and general academic and science vocabulary. Following a general introduction on weather and extreme weather conditions, students research one of four weather-related hazards in small groups where they generate questions, analyze data, and use their questions to direct their learning. The culminating project includes an independently written report on a specific topic and a group oral presentation.
Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that teacher notes and preparation materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively. A wide selection of books about weather will need to be gathered: several books cited in the unit are designated as whole-class reads to provide a foundation for further study, other books are suggested for individual or small-group work, and specific titles are suggested throughout the unit. Since most of the books are at or above third-grade level, it would be helpful to have support specialists during class time for students who are struggling readers. None of the texts mentioned is included with the unit materials.
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION
This unit is an exemplary example of how to teach students literacy skills in the context of learning science by providing opportunities to build knowledge about a topic through analysis of discipline-specific texts. It cultivates student interest and engagement in reading, writing and speaking about texts. Lessons include a progression of learning where concepts and skills advance and deepen over time. Student work elicits direct, observable evidence of the degree to which they can demonstrate their independent capacities.