Is There a Doctor in the School?

Hopatcong News
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You better believe it! Tulsa Trail Elementary School has 14 top-notch 3rd grade surgeons ready and available to perform surgery on any informational text they encounter.  

Mrs. Ibaceta (3rd grade teacher) & Mrs. Mortello (K-5 Literacy Coach) worked collaboratively to plan and facilitate a variety of nonfiction immersion lessons in order to kick off their next unit of study in both reading and writing workshop.  These inquiry type lessons were designed to hook students’ interest, engage students’ curiosity, and motivate students to read and write nonfiction with a purpose. The lessons proved to be a great success...

First, early on during the immersion week, students were asked to shift their mindset from reading and writing fiction to reading and writing nonfiction texts. To prepare for this shift - students were asked to sort their classroom library books into two piles - fiction and nonfiction. Students compared and contrasted how and why these texts were different. Students eagerly shared with their literacy partners the characteristics they discovered to be true of fiction and nonfiction texts.  You could overhear students say, “Fiction stories always have characters who encounter a problem and then find a solution.”  While other students responded, “Yeah, that’s true and nonfiction texts always seem to have real photographs that seem to be teaching us something.” All students had a great time discovering all that both types of genres had to offer.  


During the next lesson, students were asked to go on a text feature scavenger hunt. Students were supplied with a variety of magazines, nonfiction texts, and articles so they could highlight, name, and discuss the text features they found.  The room was abuzz with students discussing how these text features helped them to understand the text better. As you can imagine, students were really getting the hang of why and how authors of nonfiction text use text features to help readers learn as much as possible about a topic of study.


Finally, the students were given the ultimate task - to perform nonfiction surgery on a text of their choice. As a result, these young surgeons worked with a team of at least four other doctors in order to collaborate about their findings.  Excitedly, the young doctors scrubbed in for surgery and then dressed in caps, masks, & gloves for the big event. Each doctor carefully studied their nonfiction text and selected a text feature that taught something important. The doctors then shared their findings with their team members and performed at least five text feature transplants per team.  Once the text feature was removed - it was transplanted onto a paper patient. Each transplant was held in place by a surgical band aid. Each and every transplant was a great success!


Needless to say, student engagement was high but most importantly the learning that occurred was transferrable to their everyday reading, writing, and learning using nonfiction texts.  


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