HOW IT WORKS
Under the Sea is a thematic English language
arts program that incorporates science and social studies into a study of sea life. It
teaches and enhances various reading strategies of the balanced
literacy method. These strategies include read-aloud and guided,
shared, and independent reading. The students read about
many forms of sea life from different parts of the world and further their
ability to research a topic. Some resources are lower level because
some students are still developing their English language skills.
Guided reading is essential in this case because the teacher can
work with small groups and concentrate on a particular reading
strategy, as well as working individually and with a whole class. The
key is modeling reading strategies and having students practice
in small groups or on their own. The plethora of reading material makes
this possible and fosters a healthy learning environment.
The program begins with an appropriate read-aloud—The Rainbow Fish by Marcus
Pfister—for motivation. A KWL Chart is then created to see what
students know and want to know. The teacher selects material from
books and magazines to begin reading strategies.
After he/she models a reading strategy with the class, students
practice in small groups and/or individually. There are also visits to
the New York Aquarium and the Museum of Natural History to further
their learning on sea life and give them an authentic experience with
what they are learning about. The students can also sketch what they
are viewing. For a final project, students do their own research on
their sea animal of choice, and work on note taking, topic sentences,
paragraphing. The students meet with me four times a week
for 45-minute periods in my classroom, and when they are ready to
implement their research skills, three students at a time go to
the computer room if they need to look for more information on the
This program was first implemented last year with six different
classes ranging from grades 6- 8. It can be adapted for appropriate
for earlier grades, depending on the level of reading materials
Amy Schlamkowitz has been a teacher at M.S. 131 for two years, and
has taught reading and English language arts classes. She received
her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Dowling College
and her Bachelors of Science Degree from the University of Tampa.
She currently teaches the sixth grade.
WHAT YOU NEED
The resources needed include computers with Internet access,
books, magazines, posters, diagrams, maps, and various art
supplies. Videos and computer software programs such as Microsoft
Encarta are also necessary for the enhancement of this unit. You can
also contact various organizations to donate pamphlets and
brochures for shared reading.
Under the Sea contains abundant creative, innovative, and effective
aspects. It effectively assists in the improvement of student reading,
writing, and researching abilities.