The last unit of each module, Unit 3, includes the performance task: an extended, supported writing task or presentation where students need to successfully bring together what they know about this topic. This is where students are writing choose-your-own-adventure narratives, bringing together what they know about the armadillo and what defenses it has to help it survive (and what they know about writing).
In Unit 1, students read, discuss, dramatize, draw, and write so that they acquire strong and specific content and background knowledge, as well as the literacy skills that they need to do so. Ms. Henderson’s fourth graders learn what “natural defenses” are, they learn what predators do, and they learn about the many kinds of defenses that animals have depending on their habitat. In the process, the students learn to read closely, reread carefully for meaning, gather evidence, and develop a paragraph.
In Unit 2, they take this basic understanding to a deeper level. They do more research and discuss with one another what defenses specific animals might have. With close support, they respond to a prompting question to write a full multi-paragraph essay about animal defenses.
Throughout, for homework, students are reading independently at their own level. They are using research texts to gather deeper and deeper knowledge about how animals use natural defenses to survive and thrive.
As the lessons in each unit progress, you have the opportunity to carefully check in on her students’ progress. Each unit has two built-in assessments: a mid-unit assessment (usually reading) and an end of unit assessment (usually writing). These assessments help you as the teacher in two ways: They allow you to have a clear sense of what her students can and cannot yet do, and they give you valuable information about how best to use the time in the ALL Block for your students’ benefit.
The Grades 3-5 curriculum offers two hours of content-based literacy instruction per day (Module Lessons and the Additional Language and Literacy [ALL] Block), with an additional optional companion Life Science module, which accompanies Module 2 for a third hour of instruction lasting eight to nine weeks. With or without the Life Science module, the two hours of content-based literacy are considered comprehensive.