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 2:

“Fact Tree: Find and Record Facts” – 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 does the teacher scaffold students towards independent research through the lessons in the Immerse phase of inquiry?(You may want to share the Student Work Samples – Previous Lessons for this discussion.)

  • The teacher is revisiting stations that the children have experienced throughout the year. Now they are applying them to their animal research. Since they already know how to use the stations, they can attend to learning about the topic without also learning the routines of the station.
  • Ms. DuBose began with a station mainly dependent on viewing and drawing (graffiti boards), that probably had the highest comfort level for the children. Then she added more specific types of facts to look for about animals through Sketch to Stretch. This helped alert the children to the types of information they could learn about an animal. Finally, she scaffolded Fact Tree by beginning with a video where the information was presented through listening and viewing. All this helped prepare the children to use informational books to find their own facts in the current lesson.

Connect/Engage: How is the teacher scaffolding success with today’s lesson?

  • She uses the RAN chart to review what the children think they know and their questions, including some questions that were added in the previous lesson. She is helping the children focus on the types of information they want to find in their research.
  • She reviews nonfiction text features and this time probes for the children to not only identify text features, but explain how they will help them find information in the books. Although many of the children will not be able to read the words in the books, some will be able to read headings, captions, and labels that will help them find facts.


Model: What does the teacher emphasize in her modeling?

  • That they will be using the words as well as the pictures to find information;
  • That they are focusing today on facts they can learn from the books. While questions,
  • connections, and inferences are all an important part of research, today they will be looking for facts;
  • That they should be especially aware of learning facts that answer some of the questions on the RAN chart;
  • That facts are real information;
  • How to translate the facts into drawing and writing on a sticky note;
  • Using the words in the book to help with spelling words.


Guided Practice 1 and 2: Why do you think the teacher calls on specific children to share after Turn and Talk rather than randomly calling on students or soliciting volunteers?

  • She wants the other children to hear responses that will be most helpful to them in the lesson. In this case, she is trying to clarify the difference between facts found in the book and thinking about them, so she doesn’t want too many spontaneous responses that might add to the confusion.
  • She has supported the children she calls on, so they are ready to share in a clear and cogent manner. This allows the other children to learn from them, and also builds the confidence and oral language expression of each child.
  • She is able to most efficiently use time in Guided Practice.

Transition to Independent Practice: How does the teacher handle children’s confusion between facts, questions, and inferences?

  • While conferring, she helps steer them in the direction of facts, rather than questions and inferences, while still honoring those other types of thinking. She does this both by talking about the differences, and by focusing on students who did find facts and putting those facts on her chart.
  • She rereads portions of the text to help children focus on the facts.
  • She repeats what a fact is many times and uses the children’s examples to illustrate it.



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 both of the Independent Practice clips.)

What expectations are consistent across all the conferences? How does the teacher differentiate to help make these expectations achievable for all students?

Consistent expectations:

  • Checking that the facts students are relating are found in the informational text;
  • Figuring out what fact is being learned from the picture or words – not just repeating what’s in the text or drawing what they see;
  • Using bold words, labels, and other text features to help learn facts from the text;
  • Learning domain-specific vocabulary from the text (e.g., predator, chick, pipping);
  • Explaining their drawings or notes – what they are trying to express.

Differentiating to make expectations achievable for all children:

  • The teacher starts with more general questions, like “What did you write?” and gets more specific according to how much support the child needs, based on his/her response;
  • Preparing children to add facts to the tree by rehearsing what they learned so they understand and remember their facts, and can participate in the class sharing effectively;
  • Reading to children where there is new terminology to be gained from what the child is noticing;
  • Persisting in a line of questioning to make sure the child takes responsibility for his/her own learning (e.g., the child who said he drew the egg “because Ms. McDonald told me to”);
  • Noticing and naming effective ways children have recorded their facts (e.g., the use of arrows, labels, details in drawing);
  • Giving children suggestions for further developing their work (e.g., asking the child to add words or labels)

From the Independent Practice 2 Commentary and Student Work Samples, what are students learning about reading informational texts?

  • Children are understanding what facts are;
  • They are building background knowledge about the many attributes of animals (how they move, eat, take care of their babies, physical appearance) that can be gleaned from informational texts;
  • They are gaining domain-specific, academic vocabulary;
  • They recognize text features and use them (e.g., arrows, labels) to support their own explanations of their learning;
  • They search for and use words in the text to write information they are learning;
  • They are comfortable explaining their learning in drawing and in words at whatever level of phonetic spelling they have reached.



Share 1: What does the teacher accomplish by using turn and talk before whole class share?

  • All children get an opportunity to share their work. This is not only motivating for children, but reinforces the importance of the contributions everyone is making to the research;
  • The teacher can assess what the children have learned;
  • The teacher may find additional students she wants to have share strong responses;
  • The teacher has another opportunity to prompt students to help them remember and articulate what they’ve learned before they share with the whole class.

Share 2: What are your thoughts about the sharing session?

  • All of the learning emphasized throughout the lesson is reinforced through the sharing, including an understanding of what facts are and relevant vocabulary.
  • The children exhibit a great deal of self-confidence in sharing their learning, a product of the scaffolding of support throughout the lesson.
  • The teacher is positive towards the children’s responses without a lot of evaluative language. Her focus is on their contributions to the class’s learning.
  • The incorporation of movement in putting the sticky notes on the tree, and being careful with a live tree, supports the climate of cooperation and respect emphasized in this classroom.


Closure: How does the repetitive use of the RAN chart support the students’ research?

  • The RAN Chart is becoming a routine that will reinforce the learning process of research – how it develops from what we think we know and our questions into confirmations and recognizing misconceptions, and identifying new learning. It also reinforces that this process is cyclical and continuous – more learning leads to more questions and more investigation.


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?