COMMON CORE STANDARDS
Reading Informational Text
RI.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
RI.K.10 Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.
Reading Foundational Skills
RFS.K.1 Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
RFS.K.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
RFS.K.4 Read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.
W.K.2 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory
texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
W.K.3 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.
W.K.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them).
Speaking and Listening
SL.K.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
DESCRIPTION OF UNIT
This Kindergarten unit plan titled “Literacy in Science—We Are Experts” was developed by Sheena Harvey for the New York City Department of Education. The intended length of the unit is four weeks with the Performance Task coming in the third week. Students are immersed in a selection of high interest, non-fiction material that supports them in becoming an ‘expert’ in a given topic. They become familiar with non-fiction text features such as diagrams and labeling and explore how information can be presented in many different forms. Guided practice in writing informational texts, as well as opportunities for students to write independently, are part of the unit. In the culminating assessment task, students ask and answer questions of informational texts (with support) as they gather information to write an informative text, sharing what they have learned about an animal.
Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that the unit materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively—to determine both the pacing and how to best meet the instructional needs of all students. It is unclear if the writing standard W.K.3 (Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.) is addressed. The last writing standard listed is misnamed in the document; it should be: W.K.7 (Participate in shared research and writing projects–e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them). The reading materials cited in the unit are not included but could easily be substituted.
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION
The unit is exemplary example of how to integrate reading, writing, speaking and listening so that students apply and synthesize advancing literacy skills. The materials included provide an example of how to integrate performance tasks into a unit. Teachers may (a) use this unit outline as it is described; (b) integrate parts of it into a currently existing curriculum unit; or (c) use it as a model or checklist for a currently existing unit on a different topic. It uses varied modes of assessment (including pre-, formative, and summative assessments) and aligned rubrics to elicit direct, observable evidence of the degree to which students can independently demonstrate the targeted grade-level standards.
This 5-minute video celebrates high quality student work by kindergarten students at Anser Charter School in Boise, Idaho. The video documents a celebration of learning in which community members came to the school to view student work and listen to students explain their learning. The celebration was the culmination of a year-long study of birds, which included original scientific research and beautiful scientific drawings. It brings us behind the scenes to show how students prepared for the event, and shows the multiple drafts that led to the quality of the work. (Expeditionary Learning)