Teaching Reading with a Owl Theme- Differentiated, Leveled Instruction with a FREEBIE!

Hey friends! We have been working on a series of blog posts that focuses on providing ideas that will help you teach differentiated and leveled instruction to your students. We also make sure to include a FREEBIE! Gotta love that! At the end of this post, I will link up the other posts in this series.

Now, let’s get down to business!

Our goal with this post is to provide you whole group teaching ideas, differentiated for all your learners. Guided practice in guided reading to support your whole group content, as well as, independent comprehension practice that students can complete when not in group.

Let’s start with whole group.

When teaching about Owls, we have provided some text ideas that allow you to incorporate literature and informational cores. Many use Owl Moon by Jane Yolen already, talk about a great text! We also found The Barn Owl by Tony Johnston. Have you read it? It’s a great text about barn owls who live in a barn and shares what their habits are. A great way to introduce another type of owl! We also found a great informational read, Owls By Mary R. Dunn. This is a Pebble Plus book. The words are a great level for firsties and lower second graders. The vocabulary is perfect to go along with the vocabulary you will be teaching in guided reading.

So you may be asking…what cores do you teach with this? Well…you could really do a lot but here are some ideas…

RI and RL 1 – Asking questions

RI and RL 2 – Identify the main topic/main idea and key details 
RI 4 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a grade level text on a relevant topic or subject.
RI 6 – Distiguish between information provided by pictures…and information provided by words in a text.  Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe. 
RI 7 – Use illustrations and details in texts to describe its key ideas.  Explain how specific images contribute to and clarify a text.
RL 9 – Comparing and Contrasting two texts
When you use a content theme, such as owls, it not only works to teach whatever core you may be focusing on at that time, but also adds to the students schema and helps build their vocabulary. These are two HUGE tools they will need when reading independently or working on other content in your classroom. 
In my classroom, I use Owl Moon to practicing retelling and inferencing. It also lends itself well to teaching about word choice and creating mental images. I like to use the informational texts to focus on main idea and key details.
So know that you’ve been focused on teaching about owls, it’s important to support that learning in guided reading.
These are leveled passages. This is from our Polar Animals passage bundle but they are also available individually  They start at level A and progress in difficulty to level H/I. What does this mean for you? You can make one set of vocabulary cards, one set of sight word practice cards and then enough passages for each level and your groups are DONE! Snowy Owls will reinforce your instruction of owls and will also build the students schema by adding an additional type of owl.  The vocabulary included in this passage will lend itself well to the vocabulary you will be teaching whole group about owls. It also allows you provide an additional layer of support for your strugglers who benefit from hearing and reading content multiple times.
Here’s how I break it down, to teach this passage for the week.
Monday: Activate schema/ Intro, review and highlight vocabulary in the text.
Tuesday: Read and discuss. Pull out important facts.
Wednesday: Text dependent questions 
Thursday: Fluency practice reads
Friday: Vocabulary exit slip/Partner read and discuss
Each day we review the vocabulary and the sight words. We will play games with the vocabulary and sight word cards. Then at the end of the week the students take the passage home and share it with their families. This is a great way to keep families connected AND, specifically for our demographic, provides them with something they are able to read at home. 
To continue to support my students’ understanding of owls and to keep them practicing the vocabulary, I introduce leveled quick read cards for independent practice. 
Leveled quick read cards are also leveled A- I. I assign levels to students, to match their independent reading level. Since they have been focusing on vocabulary in whole group and small groups, they are easily able to read it independently in the quick reads. I put the quick reads on rings and put them into my comprehension tub for reading center time. Students keep the response booklet in their reading folder. Quick reads are a set of five short passages, all on one topic. For this week, our Owls Quick Reads are the perfect way to once again support the content of your week. Students are using a variety of skills such as analyzing, retelling, and inferring to respond to these short passages. I have my students read one a day and complete one response page. For these, I make sure to assign them to quick reads that are at their independent level. This way I know that they are able to access the text when working independently.
Owls is such a diverse topic, with so many great texts available, that you could really use it as a vehicle to teach any standard. We wanted to make sure to include a FREEBIE that allows for you to have students apply their learning in whatever way you deem appropriate to support your teaching.

You could have students write the facts that they have learned, retell a story, ask and answer questions about owls, etc. The ideas are endless. Click HERE or on the picture to get this cutie! We hope that this will help your students share their learning!

Hopefully you found some of our ideas helpful when teaching about owls! We want to make sure to support and provide ideas for your differentiated and leveled instruction! Click on the pictures below to check out our previous posts and to get some great FREEBIES!


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