Ermines? Huh? What are they?

Our reading group has continued to work on interacting with non-fiction text, making meaning together and determining importance. What this means? Talking, listening, sharing ideas, extending a thought, making and defending a position, and did we mention talking and listening? Because those things turn out to be the most important and most challenging skills we are working on!

Reading about Ermines

Today our task looked like this:

Step 1: List what we can predict about an ermine (Huh? A what? We had no idea what an ermine was!!) based on the limited information Ms. Gelson gave us: 1. Their fur is different colours depending on the time of year 2. They have very sharp claws 3. They live in the northern parts of the world.

One groups' predictions

The interesting thing about the discussion from the group that produced this chart above was their debate on whether or not questions could be predictions. In the end, it was decided that yes they could because they were linked to what information we were going to find out and made us want to read more. We were going to verify both predictions and answers to questions. Great thinking!

Predictions about ermines from another group

Step 2: Read the article in Chickadee Magazine about Ermines together

A chart we made together to help us determine what might be important when learning about a living thing

A chart we made together to help us determine what might be important when learning about a living thing

Step 3: Keeping in mind the chart we created (see above) decide on what are the 5 most important facts about ermines your group wants to include on your chart.

Important facts about Ermines

Important facts about Ermines

Not all groups included the same facts but all groups used the chart we made to help them make decisions.

Another list of 5 important facts

Another list of 5 important facts

Final Group list

At this point, this task does require some guidance from adults (Thanks to my patient and encouraging volunteers Miles and Nicole!) but our role is always listening, reflecting back what we hear and refocussing the group. Students are making excellent progress on developing these skills! We just started on activities like this in late December. We are well on our way!

As a teacher, what I love about these sessions, is that it is students interacting with text and each other to determine what is important.

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