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Emily Baden

2/2/16

Teaching Reading: Mini Lesson Format (Calkins, 2001)


Targeted Literacy Strategy or Skill: To infer the meaning of unfamiliar words by using context clues to
help enhance vocabulary.
Grade level: 2rd and above
Objective: The student will be able to use context clues to crack open vocabulary.
Common Core State Standard/ PASS Standard:
Second Grade: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
a. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using
context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference
materials.
Prior knowledge: (What students already know)
Students know how to access background knowledge to ensure they can use the context to crack the
meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary.
Observations/Rationale: (Before Lesson) What did you notice in your students work that let you
know this lesson was necessary? (This will be an approximation this semester.)
I noticed many students were struggling with certain vocabulary words in given texts and not using the
surrounding clues to figure out words they were not familiar with.
Materials Needed:
Lesson from: Inferring . Strategies That Work by TW p. 39
Mentor Text: Fly High: The Story of Bessie Coleman, by Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroeger
Materials: Chart paper, copy of mentor text, piece of paper for each student, writing utensil
Student Groups (whole/small group/individual): Whole
Mini Lesson Format:
Connect (AKA~ Anticipatory Set, Engagement/Pre-reading): Sometimes its very
frustrating when you come across a word that is unfamiliar to you as a reader. Authors are sneaky
and purposely give us clues in the story you are reading to infer the meaning of a vocabulary word
you might not know. If we use our background knowledge and gather some context clues given,
we can crack the code of the mystery word!
Teach (Model/Explain): Today I am going to show you how to infer meaning of words
by using the surrounding words and pictures and illustrations by reading Fly High: The Story of
Bessie Coleman. (Read title and Think aloud what the story might be about and what words we
might encounter). To make it easier to find the meaning of words in the text, I am going to show
you how to create an anchor chart that allows us to fill in the clues we find as we read aloud. For
the chart, we are going to make four columns that has Word in the first column, Inferred
Meaning in the second, clues in the third, and finally in the last column, sentence. As we read
the story as a class, if you hear an unfamiliar word at any time you need to raise your hand so we
can go back and begin solving the mystery of the unknown word.

(Read several pages into the story and mark down when someone raises their hand. Once I get to
the sentence that reads: Bessies brother Walter had moved to Chicago years ago when Bessie
was little. Now Walter was a fine Pullman porter. At this point almost all hands should be up in
the air because they shouldnt know the meaning of the term Pullman porter. I will ask what word
they are unfamiliar with and they should say Pullman porter). Class, what word is tricky on this
page? (Students should say Pullman porter). We are going to stop here and figure out the
meaning of Pullman porter by using our chart that we started. Lets start by writing Pullman porter
in the word column. Now, lets think through how we can crack the meaning of this term. Lets
start by reading on to see if the next couple of sentences give us any hints about what this could
mean. (Read on and ask if it unveils the meaning. Students should realize it doesnt). Since
reading on didnt help us for this particular word, lets try to re-read the sentence and to see if we
just got confused by the word. (Re-read and ask students if they know the meaning now. They
should answer no). Since re-reading the sentence didnt help us either, lets look around the page
and see if there are any other clues that could help us solve the mystery of what Pullman porter
means. Lets look and see if any of the pictures that can help us. Lets check (Have students find
the picture at the top of the page of a gentleman in a uniform carrying a suitcase and helping a
young woman off the train). What do you think this picture infers about a Pullman porter? Turn
and talk to your partner about your personal interpretation. (Students should come to the
conclusion that a Pullman porter is a railroad worker who carried bags for people as they boarded
and disembarked the train. Once they figure this out have a student volunteer to come fill in the
chart. Fill in the chart the inferred meaning). From what I can see, this picture is of a man in a
uniform carrying a suitcase and helping a woman off the train. From this picture we can determine
that a Pullman porter is someone who carries bags for people as they board and leave trains.
Okay class, what did we decide the meaning of a Pullman porter is? (Have student write this on
the chart). Great! Now what clue led us to solve the mystery of a Pullman porter? (Class should
say picture, have student write this on the chart). Wow! You are great problem solvers! Last but
not least, lets work as a class to come up with a new sentence to put our newly learned word in!
Think to yourself for a minute then write your sentence down on a piece of paper. Give me a
thumbs up when you finish and when I see that everyone is ready we will turn and talk to our
partners to compare sentences. Once we have shared we will come back together and write one of
the sentences on the chart! (Walk around as students think about what sentence they want to
write. Listen to conversations and answer any questions they may have). What did you create?
(Listen to answers and decide as a class which one we want to write on the chart. Example: The
Pullman porter helped the woman off the train).
Active Engagement (AKA~ Check for Understanding: students try it out, teacher
observes):
Now we are going to read the last pages of the book independently, but first take out a sheet of
paper and create the chart like we have just done as a class. If you come across a word you dont
know follow the steps to solve the mystery. When we finish, well share out the words you have
found and what you learned about it. (Walk around watching for students who have found words
they dont know. Let them point to their word quietly and watch how they search for clues. When
most everyones done, I will have the students Turn and Talk to share the words they have found
and similarities of clues with a partner while I walk around and listen in).

Link (AKA~ Closing the Lesson [with accountability for the skill/process]): Now that we
have finished this lesson, you now should know to pay close attention to the surrounding text,
whether its pictures, reading on, re-reading or anything else that could potentially help you
understand the meaning of an unknown vocabulary word. Hopefully this method will help you to
better understand the text you are reading and engrave new vocabulary words into your brains!
Dictionaries are great but it takes time to look up the word and a lot of the times it doesnt stick in
our heads. By using this anchor chart technique, you are able to make it any time you get stuck on
a word and eventually not need to look at the chart. The anchor chart is for you to secure words
you dont know into your brains. This way you can focuse more of your attention on
comprehending the text. Until then, you can save these pieces of paper and if you forget what it
means you can go back and look at what you wrote! For example, if you come across Pullman
porter again, you can go back and look at what it means. So next time you come across an
unfamiliar word, try using a chart to use context clues to solve the mystery of words you do not
know yet!