Facilitator Notes

General Suggestions for Leading a PLC about the Lesson: (These suggestions remain the same throughout all the lessons in Nonfiction Inquiry. See Specific Suggestions for this lesson below.)

  • Facilitator Preparation for the Session:
    • Read (or review) the Unit Plan and Lesson Plan in Supporting Documents, and the “Purpose of the Lesson” segment online, to understand how this lesson fits into the overall Inquiry Unit.
    • View the clips, decide on your own responses to the questions, and anticipate other possible responses from colleagues. Then review the suggested responses in the “Facilitator Notes.” Please note that the responses given are suggestions only. Your insights and those of your teachers will shape the most meaningful discussions.
    • A Teacher Commentary video clip accompanies some of the lesson clips. In this Commentary, the teacher of the lesson provides her own insights into the segment of the lesson. We recommend viewing the Commentary after the discussion of each lesson segment.
    • You may want to download some of the Supporting Documents and copy them for use in the session. There is also a transcript available for each lesson.
  • During the Session:
    • Give teachers time to read the Unit Plan and Lesson Plan in Supporting Documents, and read the “Purpose of the Lesson” segment online. Discuss how this lesson contributes to the unit as a whole. Usually a “Prior to the Lesson” segment will aid you in doing this. You may want to refer to the four phases of inquiry and where this lesson falls within that process.
    • Before viewing each video clip, note the “Segment Focus” and “Questions” for the segment.
    • As you view each video clip, encourage teachers to take notes related to the focus question but also about their own questions, ideas, and thoughts.
    • After viewing each clip, have teachers turn and talk with colleagues about what they noticed, their questions and other reflections. Then lead a whole group discussion about the segment.
    • If there is a Teacher Commentary about the lesson segment, view and discuss it.
  • Concluding the Session:
    • Discuss how the session supports teachers’ current efforts or plans for their own inquiry units, what additional support is needed, and how you can facilitate that support.

Specific Suggestions for Kindergarten Animal Unit, Lesson 1:
“Draw to Learn from Pictures” – Possible Responses to Questions
Please note that the responses given are suggestions only. Your insights and those of your teachers will shape the most meaningful discussions.


Prior to the Lesson: How has the teacher prepared the students for success in the unit as a whole?

  • In the Preparation video clips in Introduction to Inquiry, Ms. DuBose explained how she introduced nonfiction, nonfiction text features, and stations to her students earlier in the year. These all provide support for the children in undertaking the inquiry project.
  • The teacher has discussed with the children what they think they know and their questions about penguins, the animal they will study together before researching their own animals. She uses a Reading and Analyzing Nonfiction (RAN) chart to organize the study. A sample of this RAN chart can be viewed or downloaded from Supporting Documents.
  • The teacher included the children in choosing penguins as the animal for their joint research. She limited the choices to animals she knew she could find adequate resources to support, but letting the children vote increased their interest in the study.
  • By doing research on one animal together, the teacher is providing scaffolding for the students to maximize their success when they choose their own animal to study.


Why is turning and talking important to an inquiry unit?

  • Turning and Talking is critical to all the work we do in the classroom. Among the many benefits are:
    • Rehearse thinking in a non-threatening environment;
    • Develop oral language and use it as a tool for thinking;
    • Allow maximum, simultaneous participation of all students;
    • Give the teacher opportunities to assess and teach to individual needs;
    • Build a respectful, supportive community of learners.

What do you notice about the children’s prior knowledge about informational text?

  • Children are aware of many different text features in informational text. They seem familiar with talking about these in their own words, something the teacher explained in her commentary about teaching them in Introduction to Inquiry, Preparation. From the responses the children make in turn and talk, they also seem aware of strategies to use to think about informational text, including asking questions and noticing learning from pictures.

Model: What does the teacher accomplish by her modeling? What language does she use to achieve her purposes?

  • Modeling is much more effective in helping the children prepare to work on their own than simply explaining directions. The teacher demonstrates for students exactly the thinking process that they can use to discover information from pictures in nonfiction texts. (Hmm, Well I see a penguin. I see there’s water behind him, so I’m thinking that penguins must live near some kind of water.)
  • Then she also shows them how to translate their thinking into drawing and writing on their graffiti boards, emphasizing that she’s not just copying from the book, but expressing her thinking. (Am I going to copy it? Nooo! I’m going to draw what it makes me think of.)
  • Through her own attempts, she demonstrates that the children don’t have to be proficient artists or spellers to draw and write sufficiently to record thinking. (Ms. DuBose isn’t a great artist, but I can try; help me write it; penguins is on the front cover; let’s stretch it out (near, wa-ter))
  • She demonstrates that the teacher is a learner, too, just like the children. By placing all of them together in the research, she demonstrates how research is a collaborative activity and builds the children’s engagement and confidence.

Guided Practice 1: How does the teacher gradually release responsibility to the students? What support does she provide?

  • With the first picture and turn/talk, the teacher listens and has several children share their thinking. She does not ask them to write or draw at this point, just talk and listen. She does not correct or revise their thinking, she just confirms that all of these are legitimate thoughts because they are coming from the children’s thinking about the picture. By having several students share, she also shows that there can be many appropriate responses, not just one correct answer. She is building the children’s confidence in their own thinking.
  • For the second picture and turn/talk, the teacher chooses specific children to share whose responses she has heard and expects will be helpful examples for the other children. Then she extends more responsibility to the children by having a child draw her thinking on the class sample graffiti board. She asks the child to explain the various details in her drawing, which models how drawing details can add a great deal to the information provided. Finally she provides a possible extension to what the child might think and draw by returning to the text (picture) and noting more important details from it (how they are huddled together).

Guided Practice 2: What does the teacher accomplish with her conferring as the children turn and talk?

  • During Turn and Talk, the teacher supports children who need more help, and assesses when they are ready to move to independent practice. As seen in the video, she listens for children who may be finding answers to the questions on the RAN chart, or discovering confirmations or misconceptions from what they think they know. She helps the children articulate their thinking during turn and talk, and then calls on them to share so that the whole class can benefit from their discoveries.

Transition to Independent Practice: Why does the teacher review the RAN chart before students go to stations? (If you haven’t already done so, you may want to view the RAN chart from the Supporting Documents.)

  • The Reading and Analysis of Nonfiction chart, originally developed by Tony Stead, is an interactive way to help children organize their developing knowledge from their research. By reviewing what the children thought they knew and their questions, the teacher is helping the children keep these questions and ideas in mind to guide their research.

Independent Practice: (You may want to discuss responses to the first two questions after viewing each segment of Independent Practice. Examine the Student Work Samples after viewing all the Independent Practice clips. As with all of the sample responses shown here, there will be many other thoughtful observations teachers will make.)

How does the teacher’s conferring vary according to individual students’ needs?

  • Some children need more direction than others. With some, she scaffolds her questioning to lead the child to discover an idea they can record, or makes specific suggestions of what they can draw.
  • With some children, the teacher redirects their attention to something that might be more productive on the page or another page.
  • When the child has found something that the teacher thinks will be useful for the whole class, she probes and prompts further so that the child will be able to share with the class.
  • She reads to the children if there is information that will help clarify what they are thinking about.

What aspects of her conferring are consistent across students?

  • The teacher generally begins by finding out what the child has already learned or asking about what he/she has put on the graffiti board. This puts the child in command of the conference, and allows the teacher to assess the child’s progress so she can best serve the child’s needs.
  • The teacher usually asks the child to show her the picture that was the impetus for the drawing or writing on the graffiti board. This helps teach children the importance of connecting their thinking to the text, and also helps the teacher verify the child’s ideas or help correct misconceptions based on the text.
  • The teacher’s tone is positive, collaborative, and conveys interest in the learning more than evaluating the child’s work.

From examining Student Work Samples (in Supporting Documents), what are you noticing about the how using the graffiti boards supports children’s growth in literacy?

Students are:

  • Using drawing to express their thoughts and new learning;
  • Using writing at whatever level of proficiency they have achieved to communicate their thinking;
  • Attempting to search for written information in texts and write words to support their thinking;
  • Developing details in drawing that help children think in more detailed ways and will help them notice details as they transfer into written texts;
  • Staying focused on learning for long periods of time because the task is open-ended and engaging.

Sharing: What is accomplished in this sharing session?

  • Through turn and talk, all children are able to share.
  • The children identify several new facts about penguins and add them to the New Learning portion of the RAN chart. All children have the benefit of hearing what others have discovered, adding to their knowledge about penguins.
  • Because children are called on to share whose facts the teacher has already heard and helped them prepare, the students’ confidence in their capabilities as researchers grows.

Closure: What else do you notice about how the RAN chart supports student learning?

  • The chart helps to emphasize that research begins with the children’s own background knowledge and wondering. It signals their ownership of the inquiry process.
  • The interactive nature of the RAN chart – being able to move sticky notes from one column to another, or add to any column – provides the children with a visual reminder of how their knowledge is developing.
  • By moving information from “We Think We Know” to “Confirmations” and “Misconceptions,” the children have a visual organizer for recognizing that we begin research with background knowledge that may or may not be correct, and it is our job as researches to confirm or disprove that initial thinking. This is a very important concept for learning overall.
  • The chart provides a way for children to be physically active with the learning, by moving it from one chart to another or adding it to “New Learning.”

Lesson Reflection: What are your overall thoughts or questions about the lesson? What insights did this lesson provide into the overall process of inquiry and development of an inquiry unit?

(You might want to re-view the video clip of Irby DuBose’s comments in the Introduction to Inquiry where she talks about her overall goals with inquiry and the benefits she has seen with students, and discuss her comments in light of watching the children.)