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October 22, 2018

Engage Students in a Web of Learning!

By Molly Lynch

Weave Nonfiction Into Your Lessons With Scholastic News

Grades 1–2

    Key Takeaways:

    • Get students interested in spiders with this fun interactive unit for first grade.
    • Make informational writing stick with an activity about spider facts.
    • Assess reading comprehension with a hands-on spiderweb craft.

    Each October, my students get so excited about the spooky animals issue of Scholastic News! This year’s issue focuses on spiderwebs and why they’re important. It’s a wonderful issue that is paired with Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider. I encourage you to check it out, you can snag a free digital version of it right here.

    Scholastic News comes with a big issue each week that you can use for circle time or hang up, but there’s something about adding a little technology to the lesson that gets students even more excited. I started our Scholastic News lesson — as I always do — with the one of their videos to provide background knowledge.

    What student isn't intrigued by spiders? For about two minutes, you could hear a pin drop in the classroom as the students hung on to every word the narrator was saying. (Watch the video for yourself).

    Then it was time to read the issue.

    It's easy to project the current issue up on our SMART board and read along with the students. Simple but meaningful text helps all students to get involved.  The color-coded boxes make it easy to split up reading among various students or call attention to a specific section.

    I love how Scholastic News weaves in the important nonfiction text features that we teach our first graders throughout the year. In this spider issue, I was able to point out: titles, subtitles, bolded words, and close-ups. 

    To check their understanding, the students had to use their knowledge of tables to answer the questions. While this seems like such a simple concept to us as adults, it can be challenging in first grade. However, using colored words, simple text, and pictures to guide them, even my beginning readers had success!  

    Then it was time for a hands-on activity.

    To extend the learning for this engaging topic, I asked my students to use the pictures from the Chart of Spiderwebs on the back of their issue to recreate the various types of webs spiders can make. You can pick up web material at your local dollar store or drugstore. One bag is more than enough for an entire classroom full of kiddos.

     

    They had so much fun messing around and getting it just right! And since it was hands-on, the concept had a greater chance of sticking with them. 

    To further extend the lesson (and more importantly...check for comprehension of the text), my students drew a spider based on the pictures they saw throughout the issue and wrote eight different facts about spiders. The best part was an informal assessment to see who could parse the text's information...and who simply wrote facts based on their prior knowledge of spiders.

    BONUS: My students’ drawings will make a darling display for the month of October as we continue to study spiders. 

    If you want to keep your extensions simple, Scholastic provides multiple printables to go along with each lesson. They are great activities to send home for homework, leave out for morning work, or have students complete with a partner. 

    Make sure to check out all of the free resources I’ve linked to in this post. If you like what you see, I recommend that you try Scholastic News for yourself. With 40% off, now is the perfect time to subscribe. My students and I look forward to receiving new issues every month, and I’m sure your class will too!


    Molly Lynch is a first grade teacher in the San Francisco Bay area. She also writes the blog, LuckyToBeinFirst.com

    Key Takeaways:

    • Get students interested in spiders with this fun interactive unit for first grade.
    • Make informational writing stick with an activity about spider facts.
    • Assess reading comprehension with a hands-on spiderweb craft.

    Each October, my students get so excited about the spooky animals issue of Scholastic News! This year’s issue focuses on spiderwebs and why they’re important. It’s a wonderful issue that is paired with Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider. I encourage you to check it out, you can snag a free digital version of it right here.

    Scholastic News comes with a big issue each week that you can use for circle time or hang up, but there’s something about adding a little technology to the lesson that gets students even more excited. I started our Scholastic News lesson — as I always do — with the one of their videos to provide background knowledge.

    What student isn't intrigued by spiders? For about two minutes, you could hear a pin drop in the classroom as the students hung on to every word the narrator was saying. (Watch the video for yourself).

    Then it was time to read the issue.

    It's easy to project the current issue up on our SMART board and read along with the students. Simple but meaningful text helps all students to get involved.  The color-coded boxes make it easy to split up reading among various students or call attention to a specific section.

    I love how Scholastic News weaves in the important nonfiction text features that we teach our first graders throughout the year. In this spider issue, I was able to point out: titles, subtitles, bolded words, and close-ups. 

    To check their understanding, the students had to use their knowledge of tables to answer the questions. While this seems like such a simple concept to us as adults, it can be challenging in first grade. However, using colored words, simple text, and pictures to guide them, even my beginning readers had success!  

    Then it was time for a hands-on activity.

    To extend the learning for this engaging topic, I asked my students to use the pictures from the Chart of Spiderwebs on the back of their issue to recreate the various types of webs spiders can make. You can pick up web material at your local dollar store or drugstore. One bag is more than enough for an entire classroom full of kiddos.

     

    They had so much fun messing around and getting it just right! And since it was hands-on, the concept had a greater chance of sticking with them. 

    To further extend the lesson (and more importantly...check for comprehension of the text), my students drew a spider based on the pictures they saw throughout the issue and wrote eight different facts about spiders. The best part was an informal assessment to see who could parse the text's information...and who simply wrote facts based on their prior knowledge of spiders.

    BONUS: My students’ drawings will make a darling display for the month of October as we continue to study spiders. 

    If you want to keep your extensions simple, Scholastic provides multiple printables to go along with each lesson. They are great activities to send home for homework, leave out for morning work, or have students complete with a partner. 

    Make sure to check out all of the free resources I’ve linked to in this post. If you like what you see, I recommend that you try Scholastic News for yourself. With 40% off, now is the perfect time to subscribe. My students and I look forward to receiving new issues every month, and I’m sure your class will too!


    Molly Lynch is a first grade teacher in the San Francisco Bay area. She also writes the blog, LuckyToBeinFirst.com

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Susan Cheyney

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