A boy Called Slow

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Words have meaning and names have power!
Tradebook: I am using the book “A Boy Called Slow” by Joseph Bruchac. I wanted to use a narrative book that was also informational and related to what the students are learning. It was suggested that I use something involving the plains area of America since this topic recently appeared on the MEAP, and I think that Native American history is a large part of that region. This story is about the famous Lakota Indian, Sitting Bull, and how he got his name.
Bruchac, Joseph. (1994). Illustrated by Rocco Baviera. A Boy Called Slow. Philomel Books

  • My students are in 4th grade and the majority of them speak English as a second language. However, they all speak and can write in English. Most of the students are Hispanic, some are African American and few are Caucasian or of Asian descent. Out of approximately 24 students, the gender breakdown is pretty equal with perhaps a few more males. There is one student who has trouble monitoring and processing emotions, but he has not been diagnosed with an emotional impairment.

  • I am assuming that most of the students will have some prior knowledge about Native Americans. It is possible that they have never done a KWL lesson and I may have to explain this strategy to them. There are two other Hope students in my placement, but I will be the first to teach my lesson.

  • Accommodations/Modifications:

    • Many of the students speak English as a second language and they struggle with writing due to a lack of vocabulary and difficulty stringing words together to make a sentence. Therefore, I will be writing the KWL and only require minimal writing at the end for assessment purposes.

    • A few of the students have trouble working with others productively, I will make sure to monitor them closely as they interact with their peers.

Length of Lesson:

Classroom management

1 minute


8 minutes

#1 Post a KWL Chart

Incorporated in Orientation

#2 Complete the K Column

Incorporated in Orientation

#3 Complete the W Column

9 minutes

#4 Read the Book

11 minutes

#5 Complete the L Column

8 minutes


4 minutes


1 minute


42 minutes

Materials Needed: I will need the book, the overhead projector, a wet-erase marker and loose-leaf paper. Students will need a paper and pencil, but not until the end of the lesson. I will hand out a blank sheet of paper to each pair.
Lesson Objective:

The students will use their prior knowledge and collaborate with classmates to ask and answer questions about the text.

The students will make predictions and generate questions that arise while listening to the text.
Grade Level Content Expectation (GLCE): Students will…
R.CM.04.01 connect personal knowledge, experiences, and understanding of the world to themes and perspectives in text through oral and written responses.
R.MT.04.01 self-monitor comprehension when reading or listening to text by automatically applying and discussing the strategies used by mature readers to increase comprehension including: predicting, constructing mental images, visually representing ideas in text, questioning, rereading or listening again if uncertain about meaning, inferring, summarizing, and engaging in interpretive discussions.
Assessment: I will observe students as they collaborate with one another while discussing prior knowledge and generating questions.
Upon completion of the lesson, I will have the students work with one other peer in generating questions about Native American culture. I will collect their work when they are done.

What is Happening in the Lesson

What is Being Said in the Lesson

Classroom Management: (1 minute)

  • The students will remain in their seats which are grouped into 4 tables with up to 6 students in each group. The students normally sit this way and each table group works together normally as a sort of team (called learning clubs), so this will be familiar and comfortable for them.

  • In order to accommodate struggling writers, I will not have the students write their own KWL. Instead, I will model this for them. There will be no materials to handle until the end of the lesson so I will wait until then to have them get these materials out.

  • I will use the names of the learning clubs when calling on them, just as the teacher normally does. For example, one club’s name is “balanced risk-takers.” Also, I will use the normal signal of ringing the chimes to gain student attention.

  • The students are familiar with watching the clock to monitor the time, when I tell them how many minutes they have for discussion they should be able to plan their time appropriately. The clock will help me manage time as well.

For this lesson you are going to stay in your seats because you will need to work with the other people in your learning club. I expect everybody to participate in the group discussions and to respect other people when they are talking by being quiet.

When I need your attention, I will ring the chimes and that is your signal to finish what you are saying and listen for what is next.

Orientation (8 minutes)
Hook: I will read the students the title of the book without showing them the cover.
I will show the students the cover.

Activate Prior Knowledge: Students will discuss what they know about Native Americans with their table partners.

As they discuss, I will make a KWL chart on the overhead. Then I will walk around and listen to what they are saying.

I will ring the chimes to gain the students’ attention.

I will call on each table and have them share a few things they know. As they share I will write their answers on the overhead.

State the objective: The students will use their prior knowledge and collaborate with classmates to ask and answer questions about the text.

Set purpose for reading: I want the students to think about their thinking by monitoring what questions arise in relation to the text.

Today I am going to read you a story titled “A Boy Called Slow.” Can anyone make a prediction on what this story might be about? (Comprehension)
ESR: A boy is really slow and his classmates tease him and call him “Slow.”
That is a good prediction.
What do you see on the cover of this book?
ESR: A tepee and an Indian boy.
Now that you have seen the cover, would anyone like to make another prediction about what this story might be about? (Comprehension)
ESR: It is about an Indian boy whose name is Slow.
Please talk for a couple minutes with your learning club about what you know about Native Americans. Then I will ask some of you to share what you discussed. (Knowledge)

[After 2 or 3 minutes] Okay, I want to hear at least one thing from each table about what you know about Native Americans.

ESR: American Indians have different tribes and speak different languages.
ESR: Native Americans live in tepees which are like tents.
ESR: Indians have black hair and dark skin.
ESR: They have different dances and music.
ESR: Some Indians are warriors and wear war paint.

Great, you have a lot of prior knowledge about Native Americans. Today we are going to use the KWL strategy as we read this book. We just completed the K part which stands for what you know. Next, we are going to do the W column which stands for what you want to know or what you wonder.

After I read the book, we are going to discuss what we learned in this book and put those items in the L column.
As I read this book, I want you to be thinking about any questions that pop into your head. Things you wonder about and want to know the answer to. They may be things we find the answer to later in the book, or we might have to look somewhere else for the answers.

#1. Post a KWL chart
I will draw the KWL chart on the overhead while the students are discussing what they know.

#2. Complete the K column (incorporated in the orientation process)

#3. Complete the W column (9 minutes)
I will do a picture walk through to get the students thinking about what might happen in the story. Then, I will instruct the students to again work in teams to generate questions about the text and/or Native American culture.

I will ring the chimes to gain the students’ attention.

I will transition into reading the book, reminding the students to be thinking about what questions arise as I read.

After reading the first section, I will have the students answer any of the questions from the W column that the story has answered so far.

Then I will ask them for some more questions that they have come up with as I have been reading.

To get you thinking about the story, I will show you the pictures. I want you to talk with your learning club again. This time, I want you to talk about things you wonder or want to know about 1) this story and 2) Native American culture. I will give you a few minutes to talk and then I will ask each club to share a few questions.

[After 2 or 3 minutes] I want to hear at least 1 or 2 questions from each group.
ESR: Why is the boy named Slow?
ESR: We want to know what language the boy speaks.
ESR: What tribe does he belong to?
ESR: Why do Native Americans paint their tents and horses?
ESR: What do they eat?
ESR: Why are there different tribes and why do they speak different languages?
Those are great questions. I am going to read about half of the book, then I am going to stop and we will see if we have the answers to any of our questions. At that time I will also ask you if you have come up with any more questions and we can add those to our W column.

As I was reading, what questions came to mind about this story or about Native American culture? (Knowledge)

ESR: I was wondering what the four names mean.
ESR: Why do they have more than one name? Isn’t that confusing? What name do people call them by?
ESR: How can he understand the animals, do they talk to him?
ESR: Is Slow going to get another name like his father?

#4 Read the book (11 minutes)
I may need to stop periodically to explain some of the unfamiliar vocabulary.
I will read the first 8 pages of the book, then I will pause and we will discuss the answers to our questions so far, and add new questions.

Wakan-Tanka means “Great Spirit” they are referring to the Creator.

#5 Complete the L column (8 minutes)
After the first half of the book, the students will answer any questions from the W column that the book has answered so far. As they answer the questions, I will put a check mark by them to show that we have answered them.

I may have to point out some of the answers as some of the students might be confused by the language. Also, I will need to use my own prior knowledge to help the students understand some of these concepts.

After finishing the story, I will again direct the students in completing the L column.

I will have the students work with a new partner to record other things they have learned and any other questions they have.

Now that we have read a little bit into the book, which questions have been answered? (Knowledge)

ESR: We know the boy is named Slow because he did everything slowly and children are named for how they act.
ESR: Slow belongs to the Lakota tribe.
Very good, specifically, he belongs to the Hunkpapa people, which is one of the 7 branches of the Lakota Sioux tribe.

Now that we have completed the story, what other questions did we find answers to? (Knowledge)

ESR: They eat buffalo.
ESR: Slow did get a new name, it was one of his father’s names and it means Sitting Bull.
It was sort of hidden, but did anyone hear anything explaining why they paint themselves?
ESR: Slow’s father painted him in black because it was a sign of victory.
This is great, we answered almost all of our questions. The next thing we are going to do requires you to move, but I do not want you to go anywhere until I have finished my directions. What I want you to do is find a partner who is not in your learning club. You and your partner are going to need a piece of paper and a pencil. I want you to write on your paper things you have learned from this story and any questions you may have still that weren’t answered in this story.

Assessment (4 minutes)
Throughout the lesson, as the students are collaborating, I will be walking around and taking notice of which students are participating. If I notice a student is not participating, I will prompt them to do so.
After the lesson, I will have the students get in pairs and record what they learned (other than the answers to our questions) and any questions they may still have. I will collect these papers after.

Beth, what are your thoughts about this story?

Transition (1 minute)
I will thank the students for their cooperation and hand the class back over to Mrs. Fox.

Thank you all very much for being such great learners. Please go back to your seat and Mrs. Fox will tell you what you are going to do next.

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