Uploaded by Helen (Chrissy) McClellan

Language Analysis Project - Analysis

Language Analysis Project - Analysis
Chrissy McClellan
Mrs. McClellan: “Yesterday, we read
chapters nine and ten of The Westing
Game. Please take out your written
responses. Is there anyone who would
like to share? What do you think that the
author has done to keep the readers
interested in the plot and characters?”
In this initial interaction with students, I
was providing them with a connection to
yesterday’s lesson, and inviting them to
take action, to participate in the lesson,
and also promoting an environment in
which we are learning together.
Reflecting on this, it would have been a
great opportunity for students to turn and
talk, and summarize the previously read
chapters with a partner using language
that we’ve practiced specifically for
Mrs. McClellan: “Great example! I love
that you took the time to cite evidence
from the text. That’s always important. In
chapters nine and ten, the author also
kept us interested in the story by building
tension between the characters. What is a
vocabulary word that we could use to
describe how the characters were feeling
about each other?”
“I love that you took the time to cite
evidence from the text”, draws attention to
an expectation and important skill that my
students should know how to do. I also
drew attention to a strategy that the
author used, and questioned the students
to see if anyone could respond with the
correct vocabulary word.
Mrs. McClellan: “That’s it! Why do you
think they were feeling suspicious of each
This simple question promotes strategic
and critical thinking, and asks student
opinion, which also demonstrates that I
value their opinions. I wonder if phrasing
the question, “I wonder why…” instead
would make the conversation more of a
group discussion, instead of a teacher-led
Mrs. McClellan: “You’re absolutely right.
They can’t trust each other! Suspicious
was one of our vocabulary words from
yesterday. Today, we’re going to add two
new vocabulary words to our TIP chart.
Our first word is alibi. Does anyone
This would have been a good place in the
discussion to provide an example from
the text, of how to cite information to
support your opinion. “They can’t trust
each other! I know this because….”, or,
“Can we think of an example from the text
recognize the word alibi? What does it
that demonstrates how our characters
can’t trust each other?”
Mrs. McClellan: “That’s interesting! I’ve
never heard of anyone being named Alibi
before. Does anyone else know what it
means, or think you know what alibi
The comment from a student about “alibi”
being a character’s name genuinely
interested me. I should follow up with the
student and encourage them to teach me
more about this text-to-text connection. I
also used this comment to invite others to
share. We were working together to
determine the meaning of an unknown
word based on what we already knew.
Mrs. McClellan: “No one? That’s okay!
Alibi is a noun that means proof a person
was somewhere else when a crime
occurred. It’s like an excuse. For
example, if a bank in Gainesville were to
be robbed, and the police found a
teacher’s badge at the scene of the crime,
they might come and interview teachers
at our school. Let’s say they came to me
and asked, “Mrs. McClellan, where were
you at one o’clock on Friday?”. I would
say that I was here, teaching this class.
They might ask you, as witnesses, to
verify my alibi...my excuse. In the text, our
characters will need to have alibis to
prove they didn’t murder Mr. Westing!
I explicitly told students what the word
alibi means after it became evident that
they did not know. Providing a fun,
realistic, but imaginary example allowed
the students to build a connection that will
help them remember the word in the
future. Then, we drew back to the text.
This would have been a great chance for
students to turn and talk to each other
and come up with their own examples of
an alibi.
Our next word is coincidence.
Coincidence is also a noun that means
two events are happening at the same
time, without being planned. For example,
it’s a coincidence that Ms. Wright and I
are dressed alike today. As we’re reading
today, I want you to examine how the
words alibi and coincidence are used in
the text. Open up your books to chapter
eleven, and follow along as I read.”
Instead of explicitly telling the students
what coincidence means, I could have
gone through the same questioning
process that I did with alibi. This is a word
that most students recognized. Also,
changing the phrasing to, “Can anyone
tell me what…” would have drawn into a
teaching-the-teacher scenario, boosting
the students’ interest and confidence.
Mrs. McClellan: “I remember that clues
in mysteries are often details that seem
out of place, so I have to look for them.
Here, Grace says that Turtle may be
helping her father with his bookkeeping.
We know that Turtle’s dad is a doctor,
with his own office on the first floor of the
apartment building, so he must have to do
a lot of his own bookkeeping so he can
send bills to his patients and order
supplies for his office. That makes sense,
but then Mr. Hoo starts laughing! Why
could he be laughing?”
In this instance, the students already hold
the knowledge that they need to answer
the question. I was evaluating their
comprehension, and also their reasoning
and inferencing skills.
Mrs. McClellan: “That could be true.
Think about this, what could the author be
trying to say through our characters’
This statement was intended to
encourage students to extend their
thinking, and to dive deeper into the
text...reading between the lines.
Mrs. McClellan: “That’s what I’m
thinking! Sometimes, authors give us
clues, to make us think and ask
questions, and then answers them later in
the story. Let’s keep reading to see if the
author answers our questions.”
I expressed that my beliefs were similar to
the students when I said, “That’s what I’m
thinking!”. This could provide a boost in
confidence and a desire to continue in the
conversation, even if the student’s answer
isn’t one hundred percent correct yet. I
also introduced the students to the asking
questions strategy, hoping that they will
remember that later when reading
Mrs. McClellan: “I’m glad you noticed the I opened up conversation with a question
to evaluate their understanding of the
word alibi! What’s happening in this
text, as well as the previously discussed
section of the story?”
vocabulary word, now presented to us in
Mrs. McClellan: “Good job! Does Doug
have a very strong alibi? Does anyone
remember where he was on the night that
Mr. Westing was found dead?”
Mrs. McClellan: “Great observation!
What is the coincidence in the story?”
“Good job!” and, “Great observation!”
provide praise for students, but would be
better if phrased more specifically,
“You’re right! I like how you used context
clues to….”, or, “I love how you
noticed….” These ways of phrasing those
statements would make connections to a
strategies that they students may not
have realized they were using. I also
continued questioning the students to
assess comprehension.
Mrs. McClellan: “Okay, now that we’ve
finished reading, we’re going to pair up in
our reading partner pairs and read these
two chapters again. Find your partner!
While you’re reading, I want you to be
thinking about which characters have
alibis and which characters have
Partner reading provides time for student
discussions that promote a supportive
and collaborative learning community.
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