A Nine Square Never Tasted So Sweet

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

A couple of weeks ago, I promised you an informational Nine Square. A curly girl always delivers on a promise! 

To start this process, I went to a favorite resource- NewsELA. This website is wonderful! With a fre-e-e account, you have access to timely and connected informational texts. Each article has built in features for text-to-speech/oral administration, the ability to adjust the Lexile level, and the option to switch the language to Spanish. Talk about a great deal! In addition to the text, there are activities provided- vocabulary practice with the Power Words in the text, a writing prompt (many are very short constructed response-esque), and four multiple choice questions. The MC are pretty good, and I can be quite the multiple choice snob. You can print the resources or assign them in your Google Classroom. Come on! Could it be easier?! 

I chose the article "Big Questions: Why does sugar taste so good?". It's a universal topic for any day, but there are many articles that would allow you to connect to the season, an event, or even thematically connect to something else you're reading (text or instructional sets). After reading the article, I developed 3 central ideas and 2 details that support each one. That's how it's set up on the Nine Square grid- column 1 are central ideas; columns 2 and 3 are details that support. But...shhhh! We don't want the students to know that! To run the activity in your own classroom, make copies of the Nine Square for the article for each group of students and put them in an envelope or baggie. This process will jumble the pieces up, exactly like we want them. 

Have students read through the pieces and create groups with similar, connected ideas. I would start out with this broad direction, and if student groups need additional prompting, you can let them know that there are 3 central ideas or 3 pieces in each set. Once student groups have sorted the ideas, have them select one piece for each group that serves as the central idea (answer key: column 1). 

You can extend the learning-

  • Have students go back into the text and provide another detail that supports the central ideas on a tiny Post-it. 
  • Have students select a pair of statements that show a cause and effect relationship; have them justify their selections in writing or orally. 
  • Have students complete the Power Words, Writing, and/or Quiz activities in NewsELA. 
Nine Square is an engaging way to have students do some serious thinking. It's easy to prep, playful, and can be as short or long of an activity as you allow it to be. I'd love to know how you use this or another Nine Square in your classroom. Are there other ways you extend students' thinking? Leave a comment below, and let's learn from one another! 

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