How can I scaffold up to a text?

If a teacher wishes to use one of the Featured Anchor Texts, but feels it is too difficult for his or her children, “stair stepping” of texts might be considered.  This strategy involves doing a read aloud of a somewhat easier text to prepare the student to tackle the more difficult text.  Following is an example of how to “stair step” up to the Featured Anchor Text for US Era 11, Abraham Lincoln: Lawyer, Leader, Legend, recommended for the lower elementary grades.

At a Lexile level of 790, this text is certainly at the upper range for the age level, and we are not suggesting students in the K-2 range read this book independently. Instead, we suggest that they follow along (with their own copy or using a document camera) as the teacher reads it aloud.  Even still, some of the vocabulary and concepts might best be introduced first through easier “building up” books, such as:

  • Abe Lincoln’s Hat 330L
  • Mr. Lincoln’s Whiskers 420L
  • Looking at Lincoln 480L
  • Lincoln and Me  650L
  • When Abraham Talked to the Trees 670L

Each of the books tells interesting stories about Lincoln as a person and a leader, creating a whole reservoir of background knowledge. This mounting knowledge creates curiosity in the children for more information. By the time the teacher is ready to share the more challenging Abraham Lincoln: Lawyer, Leader, Legend, the students know that Lincoln stored important things in his hat, grew whiskers because a young girl thought it would make him more dignified, stood tall while making hard decisions, and practiced his stump speeches in the woods.