Welcome to a series of lessons I've created to accomplish Common Core Standards relating to reading biographies, taking relevant notes, and publishing a collaborative technology slide presentation. This is a culminating project to finish up the last two weeks of a six week unit on creative, inventive, and notable people of the turn-of-the-century. This set of lessons could be easily adapted to meet the needs of other biographical subjects in a different time period, or used with other types of informational text.
I chose to use the Who Was? series of books for my researchers. This series worked very well into the upper range of our Lexile band, provided text feature support, had many biographical subjects of the time period we are studying, and were just the right length to read in a week. One advantage of choosing to use books within the same series is the text structure. This made it easy when completing my daily lessons on reading and note taking.
Please watch this short introduction video to hear more about this lesson. Thank you!
It's All In the Hook!
I completed the activities in this lesson to get my students excited about reading a biography for our two week research unit. It's important to have them engaged, successfully taking notes, reading, reading, reading, and mastering the standards! Our class completed this lesson the week before we kicked off our biography unit. This gave me time to prepare materials based on student choices, record any books for students needing support, and arrange the desks in groups of the same biography for a kick-off of the unit on Monday.
Introduction: I began by telling students we are going to be beginning a two week biography unit next week. I tell them that many of the creative, inventive, and notable people we've been studying are subjects of the biographies they'll get to choose from. I also explain that they'll get to practice their close reading and note taking skills, similar to what we've been working on with the question stems who, when, where, why, what, and how. They'll also create a Google slide show presentation with other students reading the same biography.
Book Talks: I did a quick book talk about each of the Who Was? turn-of-the-century biography choices. My book talks included the biographical subject, what they were famous for, and a short excerpt from the book to hook students. The purpose of giving the students book talks is to get them excited and interested in books that they might not have normally read.
Other Ideas: You could also show short clips from YouTube, other media resources, or a slide presentation to introduce your students to unfamiliar biographical subjects.
Book Around Activity: After my book talks, I had students preview the books by completing a "Book Around". During a book around, I pass out one copy to each student of the different books available, spreading the different books out throughout the room. Students browse the books for about 20-30 seconds, and then rotate to preview a new book. This gives them time to browse through the book, read chapter titles, and examine text features to see if the book would interest them. In the video I noticed a lot of excitement as new books were passed! I additionally left the books out on my table for students to view throughout the day. (See Resource Files: Book Around Activity)
Choosing a Biography: After students had a chance to preview the books, they completed a choice sheet, noting their first through fourth choices. I know that giving students choices makes them feel invested in what they're doing, and luckily I was able to give all of my students their first or second choice! Whoo-hoo! (See Resource File: Who Was Series Choice Sheet)
My Groups: I'll begin planning for next week right away. After I go through the student choice sheets, I have the following groups for next week:
Who Was Annie Oakley? (2 girls, 1 boy)
Who Was Amelia Earhart? (2 girls, 2 boys)
Who Was Walt Disney? (1 girl, 1 boy)
Who Was Dr. Seuss? (1 girl, 2 boys)
Who Was Harry Houdini? (1 girl, 2 boys)
Who Was Harry Houdini? (3 boys)
Who Was Maria Tallchief? (3 girls)
Who Was Albert Einstein? (1 girl, 2 boys)
Who Was Roald Dahl? (2 boys)
Who Was Louis Armstrong? (Teacher will use as sample)