Groundhog Information Lessons and Published Writing

February was an exciting month of informational learning!  Of course, our month began with Groundhog's Day.  Coming from a title one school with a large quantity of ELL students, I starting thinking about how confusing the day must be for our little ones.  Why do we recognize or celebrate Groundhog's Day?

 Long Island

As I arrived at school, I pulled two videos from YouTube of the Groundhog's Celebration in Long Island and Punxsutawney from earlier that morning.  Prior to discussions, I shared both videos (approx. 5 min each).  After each was shown, we recorded information we gathered from seeing the video.  We were able to see similarities and differences between each celebration.  This opened the door to learning about legends, discussing traditions, and the evolution of this holiday!

To break up the activities, we created a guided drawing of a groundhog.  The kids were so very excited to begin their learning!!! 
The majority of my students have limited background so watching a video or reading a little text goes a long way to building a basis prior to working on a KWL. 
A website that I rely on for background knowledge is Brainpopjr.  Five years ago, I signed up for a subscription using one computer at $8 each month.  It's the price of a value meal!

Brainpopjr has a great video on Hibernation.  It's subtle yet meaningful.  My kids were aware that groundhogs burrow, hibernate, slow their heartbeats, and gather food from watching the various animals featured.  At this point, we recorded things we already know about Groundhogs on our KWL. 

When instructing with the KWL, I prompt kids to inquire more about the topic in which they are familiar.  I had one little darling that knew groundhogs burrow but when I asked why, they were unable to fully answer.  We discuss how a quest in becoming a burrowing expert would allow for his to understand this unique animal's behavior.  Based on what the kids already knew, they recorded a question in which they were to answer by the end of our learning.

Groundhog's Day is a full day of learning.  Once the background knowledge was in place, it was time to have some meaningful fun!  My book companion is filled with comprehension response pages to practice strategies in Reader's Workshop with a fictional text on Groundhog's Day so that's what we did.


Writer's Workshop consisted of building vocabulary.  I displayed the vocabulary cards from my book companion on the white board.  We used the fictional text from Reader's Workshop to identify how the word was used in the story.  Following, the kids recorded definitions in their Groundhog Vocabulary Books.

To conclude our learning this day, we became shadow detectives.  Science was a huge hit!  Katie from Little Warriors has an adorable investigation which provided the tools for the lesson.  We made a detective hat, getting into character.  I found little flashlights at Home Depot for $1.50.  I bought ten so that kids can partner and work with their own flashlight. 

After recording the results of the investigation, students were given a piece of yellow paper.  I had partners work together in creating a shadow using their groundhogs from guided drawing that morning.  We glued our groundhog on top of the shadow.  This art project became the cover to their informational writing!


We took the rest of this week to learn about Groundhogs in Readers Workshop using non-fiction text.  The integration of social studies came with geography and history.  The evidence was shown through text features which would transfer in our published informational writing on groundhogs. 

Week two began with our developing informational reader found in my book companion.  Sine we have defined all the vocabulary underlined in the text and studied groundhogs for a week, many students were set up for success independently reading the text. The informational reader became a tool for fluency and a key contributor to gathering facts for their individual reports. 

I guided the process for writing by providing the headings.  The facts gathered and recorded were completely independent. 

The kids are familiar with my checklist and visual rubric.  Using the tools in which are present in our everyday learning sets the bar for outstanding published work. 

One of the final days working on the groundhog stories, I had an observation.  We'd spent so many weeks learning about the topic and diving into text features that I decided to allow students to take control of their learning by explaining text features. 

Students were given the checklist and asked to use the various features in their stories.  There was no particular order in which the kids were to complete the task.  I provided the pages across my guided reading table.  The kids were to color in the text feature as it was added to their report. 

In one of the above pictures, you'll see post it tabs on their informational reader.  The kids identified three vocabulary words to be used as bold print and in their glossary.  I met in groups to conference on the words selected.  Using their vocabulary books, kids defined in the glossary.  Reflecting back, I wish I'd taken it a step further by discussing ABC order.
The following images shows the published work!  I'm incredibly proud of their persistence and willingness to work on this topic for several weeks without losing momentum.  I'm even more excited about our book reveal tomorrow!

If you are interested in this companion, link through the image below.


Mary Love Strange said...

I like good old fashioned giveaways! :) I have a few of your book companions and LOVE them!! With this uncharacteristically yucky/rainy weather in So Cal today and the fact that it cancelled the Gator softball game (they were actually going to play out here today) here, I'd love a pick me up! :) Thanks for the opportunity! Can't wait to see what book companions you come up with next! :)

Mary Love

Jenny Noland said...

Wow! That was an awesome post! I love your book companions. I am thinking now about how I have not done a good job in the past of teaching groundhogs day and I love how you used it to teach so many things! Did your students complete all of this work through the whole week? Thanks so much for taking the time to share your teaching. :)

michee said...

Would love this!

Hope Tran said...

Boy, incredible post about groundhogs! Would love to win your book companion for next school year. Thank you so much for all the terrific ideas!

Meredith-Teaching with a Twist said...

This is awesome and I love how everything is bound together. Great blog post. I'd love to win this!!!

Trisha Ley said...

My firsties would love this unit!!!! It works great with our schools pacing guide for information writing.

Alexis Warner said...

This is perfect for my Ohio firsties who love Groundhog Day! They think that it will magically be spring early if he says so! So cute to have belief in a weather animal. I would love to win this!

susan said...

My little ones are so interested in Groundhog Day. This is so perfect!

Melanie Arizmendi said...

I would love to win this amazing resource. Thanks for the chance.

Maria said...

This is an awesome companion! I also teach in a Title One school. I'd love to win!

Mistee clepper said...

So much fun!! I'd love to win.

Kathy C said...

This looks fantastic! Would love to win a copy! Fingers crossed!!!

Christine said...

Yes, this would be great! We have been working on non-fiction research projects and text features! Wow!

alwayskindergarten said...

This is so perfect! We start our non-fiction writing unit next week and this would be such an amazing resource. Thanks for the chance to win.

Rosemary said...

I would love to have this groundhog resource to use with my class! Thanks for making this available.

Eileen Boyle said...

I would love to have this resource. This is perfect for my 2nd graders.
Eileen Boyle

Breanne Simons said...

This looks FANTASTIC!! I am pinning like crazy for next year! :)

christine said...

What a great learning project

Kim said...

This looks awesome! I especially love the text features part! We have been working so hard on this and some of my babies are still struggling. This would tie so many of the pieces together for them in such a concrete way.