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!
Throughout this unit, we have been working on reading biographies and taking notes pertaining to who, when, where, why, what, and how question stem words, to cover Common Core informational reading and writing standards. This has been a work in progress! My students have had a lot of practice with this, as we are in the fourth week of our unit, but if your students are new to this skill, they'll need a lot of direct instruction, modeling, and guided practice before trying to read and take notes next to question stems on their own.
Model Chapters: I show the students how I have the chapters for today's reading listed at the top of my notes page. I remind them that they should capitalize words in chapters, similar to how we capitalize titles, and to copy carefully from their book. Also, I remind them about using quotation marks around the chapter titles.
Read Closely: I'm using the book, Who Was Louis Armstrong? as my sample. I chose this book because it is part of the same series of the student books, and all of the books are similar in text structure. Also, the students are familiar with Louis Armstrong from a read-aloud we did during our creative week. Today, I read pages from the chapter titled "King of Jazz" aloud, displaying it on my document camera for the students to see on my SMART Board. I model reading closely, identifying my purpose for reading, asking questions and citing evidence as I read, interacting with the text. Today, I focus on asking a lot of why questions. (See Resource Files: Read Closely Poster and Informational Text and Features Poster)
Model Note Taking: Similar to days one and two of our note taking lessons, we work together to identify relevant information about Louis Armstrong from the pages that I read aloud. From my observations of students' work yesterday, I notice that I need to reinforce having enough information within a note, and to model a "Why?" question stem note. This has become my focus for today.
I tell the students that I notice that most of the class has very few "Why?" question stem notes, so we're going to focus on seeing if we can identify any together from my reading aloud today. The students were able to come up with "Why did Louis leave his home in Louisiana?", and identified two locations, Chicago and New York to add to my teacher notes page. They also felt that adding a note about Louis getting married was relevant, too. I add those three notes to my teacher sample that I've been working on all week. I tell the students to be on the look out for some notes that may fit into their "Why?" question stem category today. I also remind them to have enough information in their notes. I cover up "married Lil Hardin" next to "1924" on my teacher notes sample. I ask the class if they'd be able to figure out what happened in 1924 if the rest was missing. I remind them to check each note after they write it to make sure there is enough relevant information to recall what the note is all about. (See Resource File: Teacher Sample Notes Day Three)
Revisit Objectives: Today, I have the students turn to a neighbor and take turns reading through the eight "I" statements on their rubric for the "Reading Informational Text" and "Research Note Taking". We're ready to research!
Read, Research, Take Notes: The students read closely, research, take notes, and sort them next to the who, when, where, why, what, and how question stems in their research packet. They read and take notes on all of the pages noted on their bookmarks. Some of my students are listening to their biography as an accommodation to their reading needs. I've prerecorded these, nice and slow, so they can share in this biography unit with the rest of the class.
What is the Teacher Doing?: I continue to monitor students' progress by stopping and listening to students read, as well as check in on notes they're taking. I first visit students I noticed struggling yesterday. I continue to take note of things I'm noticing to add to my instruction for tomorrow. I also worked with a student today who has been absent the last few days. I went over many of the items covered in Monday's lesson.
What if They Don't Finish?: It's important to tell you that I have a few researchers who need extra time. My shared reading block backs up to my literacy centers and guided reading time. I asked students to finish their biography work for the day, and then go on to their literacy centers. This way, students can be caught up for tomorrow.
I take a few minutes at the end of our reading block every day to review, reinforce, and celebrate all of our hard work for the day. We meet together in the back of our room, beneath our literacy tree, in the carpet area.
Quote of the Day: Each day, I give the students two quotes, and have them try to guess which of their biography subjects said them. They are excited to hear the quotes and guess, so they arrive at the carpet quickly and quietly. (See Resource File: Quotes to Share with Students Each Day)
Share: For today's share, we turn and tell a partner what we think the most relevant fact has been so far about our biographical subjects.
Review: I review the skills we're working on this week, highlighting examples from our lesson earlier.
Celebrate: I congratulate my researchers for being over halfway done with their biography chapter books! I tell them I'm proud of all they've accomplished this far!