Students take a journey through their texts

Found this post sitting here from March of 2014 that I guest posted, but never posted here:

How can we get students to review standards taught, yet continue high levels of learning? I have begun what I like to call a "Journey Through a Text," with my students. This is a great to:

1) Use when introducing a skill during mini-lessons
2) Once all mini-lessons have been taught and students have practiced the skills; it is a great way to review all skills independently on their OWN level.

First, it is important to have a plan at how to take your journey. What I want to do next year, that I didn't do this year (remember, it was my 1st year in 5th grade... still learning what works and what doesn't). My plan next year would be to introduce and model these skills with each novel we read. In doing so, they will have seen my modeling multiple times. PLUS, they would have practiced (with my guidance) multiple times. In addition, I want to make the process slow and steady. It is never a good idea to rush such deep work.

So, how do we take a journey through a text? I will show you step by step how to take the journey, which skills to focus on based on our 5th grade standards, and tell you a little about where students could go wrong with their journey, so you can be ready to get them back on track.

Here goes...

The skills/standards we will be working on are as follows:



* Figurative Language
* Inferences
* Textual Evidence/Main Idea
* Textual Structure
* Vocabulary
* Sentence Structure
* Visualization
* Context Clues
* Summarizing
* Theme
* Character Analysis 
* Point of View

I will talk you through half of the "Journey" using the text Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse.

STEP 1 - choose a text; You can choose a novel to work on together (so you can model and practice together). This is what I recommend to begin with. Once you have completed a journey together at least twice, I would allow students to use an independent reading book (their choice & their level).

STEP 2 - Students will need to fill out their cover page with the text title, author's name, and choose 6 items to work on. Again, I would start slow... introduce one concept as you get to a mini-lesson about that specific skill. 

STEP 3 - Begin the journey. I will show you 6 of the 12 5th grade skills you can dig deep with. 


With this digging deep journey activity, students are to create a visual representation outlining the major points of the text. They must find a portion they have read that they can really visualize. Just saying: "The dog ran down the road." is not enough. If it said, "The gigantic German Shepard leaped effortlessly over the fence, as globs of slobber splashed here and there." then that would be enough details in order for us to truly visualize the scene. Students want to put general sentences here, but when you have modeled similar sentences, as I have below, they have a better understanding of what types of words and sentences can really paint a picture in their minds. 



After spending a lot of quality time with each type of figurative language, students begin quickly identifying these types within the texts they are reading. With this journey skill, students must dig deep to find an example of each type of figurative language, write the meaning of the example, and then illustrate. If for some reason the text you are working on does not have one of the types, then I had my students create one that would fit in their text. See some of my samples below:


At first, my students got this page and the vocabulary page confused. With this journey page, students review using context clues in order to figure out the meaning of unknown words. After modeling & practicing multiple times, students should be able to use the text around the unknown word in order to come up with a close meaning. Another skill we practice along with this is substitution. After reading around the unknown word, students can determine a word that would be similar in meaning, reread by substituting with that new word to see if the new word makes sense. If so, that could assist in determining the meaning of this unknown word.

Students are to find a word, and then they should EXPLAIN the meaning and HOW they figured that meaning out. Many students wanted to either "quote" the sentence with the word (incorrect); write a sentence using the word (incorrect); or write the definition of the word (incorrect). What must be thought about here is the process in which they took in order to determine the meaning.


Not all texts are structured the same way. After reviewing the different ways, students can begin to look at key words, visuals, etc. in order to decide which type of structure the text was written. Rather than just tell the structure, it is important that students are able to communicate HOW they know. They need to back their response with some type of proof. Some of the structures we have discussed are Cause/Effect, Sequence of Events, Description, Compare/Contrast, Problem/Solution, etc. See the example below:


Although texts can have more than one theme, it is important for students to figure out which theme is the overall theme of the text by providing enough evidence to support that theme. It is not enough to say that "Perseverance" is the theme, they must say that "the turtle kept going and didn't give up" as proof for support. Prior to identifying and supporting a theme, use picture books to teach mini-lessons to show evidence for many different types of themes. With this skill, students just wanted to list all the themes they could find. The proof is what makes all the difference!


Lastly, I wanted to show how we review compound and complex sentences. My students have learned so much about these types of sentences through first identifying these types within texts they read. After identifying these types, they can then combine sentences in order to create these types. Here, they can practice writing these more fluently by taking simple sentences within their text and combine them to create compound or complex sentences. Here are two simple sentences that I have modeled.

I hope that this "Journey through the Text" has shown a deep way of reviewing many 5th grade reading standards. I am sure there are many other creative ways in which to review these standards, but I found this way very rewarding for my students. I sure hope that it can be a time saver for you!!

You can purchase this resource in my TpT store by clicking the image below:

Posted on June 23, 2015

1 comment: