Unit 1: Welcome to School
Students discover what it means to be part of a classroom community, and learn how they can make the classroom a fun place to be by exploring a variety of texts and activities.
This unit serves as the foundational unit for establishing both classroom culture and the routines of the Fishtank ELA block. In this unit, students discover what it means to be part of a classroom community and how they can make it a fun place. Over the course of the unit, students explore hopes and dreams, how to be polite and treat others with respect, and why it’s important to be proud of themselves and who they are. The unit gives students a chance to project their own feelings onto characters in order to make sense of how they are feeling. Through a variety of extension activities, students will be pushed to think about how they can use what they learned from the characters in their own lives and in the classroom community. The final products of many of the lessons and activities should be displayed and reinforced daily as student-friendly reminders of what it means to be part of a joyful community.
The unit's main reading focus is on setting up the routines of a successful Fishtank ELA block. Students will learn what it means to actively participate in a Read Aloud, how to listen to other students in the class, how to interact with and practice vocabulary, and how to write in response to the text. Since this is the first unit of the year, the goal for discourse is to begin to establish clear routines and procedures that allow students to share their thinking and ideas.
Additionally, students will begin to learn about the importance of asking questions in response to a text and how questioning and being inquisitive is an important part of learning and exploring the world around them. Since this a short unit that primarily serves as a welcome to school unit, all reading, discourse, and writing focus areas from this unit spiral in the next unit: Noticing Patterns in Stories.
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Book: Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 2010)
Book: The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2019)
Book: I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2004)
Book: I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2020)
Book: The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane Derolf (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1997)
Book: Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Caroline Binch (Dial Books, 1991)
Book: Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie by Laura Rankin (Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2007)
Book: Words Are Not for Hurting by Elizabeth Verdick (Free Spirit Publishing, 2004)
Book: Today I Feel Silly And Other Moods that Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis (HarperCollins, 1998)
Book: You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Danielle Daniel (Ocra Book Publishers, 2017)
These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 1, view our Kindergarten Vocabulary Glossary.
In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
Explain what caused Wemberly’s worries about school to go away by asking and answering key questions about key details in the text.
Make text-to-self connections between Wemberly’s experience of overcoming a worry and own experiences of overcoming a worry.
Explain what the little boy likes about kindergarten.
Explain why the narrator says, “There’s no one else I’d rather be” by asking and answering questions about key details in a text.
Make connections to what they like about themselves and how that connects to a joyful and safe classroom community.
Explain what makes the boy special and why they are special.
Identify what the characters in a story learn by asking and answering questions about key details in a text.
Explain what Grace learns.
Explain what the author wanted us to learn by asking and answering questions about key details in a text.
Identify the difference between helpful words and hurtful words by asking and answering questions about key details in a text.
Generate a list of helpful words to use in the classroom.
Identify different ways that people can feel by asking and answering questions about key details in a text.
Generate a list of feeling words and pictures to use in the classroom.
Explain what it means to hold someone up and how you can hold up your classmates.
Discussion & Writing
Explain what it means to be part of a classroom community and how they can make the classroom community a fun place to be.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Use the most frequently occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-, pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.
— Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.
— With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
— With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
— With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
— Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.
— Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
— Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).
— Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.
— Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is…).
Noticing Patterns in Stories
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