Biography Research: Research, Reading, and Notes (Day 5 of 11)

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SWBAT read a biography, take relevant notes, and sort them into who, what, when, where, why, and how question stem categories.

Big Idea

Your researchers will continue reading a biography, researching, taking notes, and sorting them into categories.

Welcome to My Lesson

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! 


Lesson: Biography Note Taking with Question Stems Day Four

15 minutes

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 "Ups and Downs" 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.  (See Resource Files:  Read Closely Poster and Informational Text and Features Poster)

Model Note Taking:  Similar to previous days this week, I have the students help me in identifying relevant notes to take on my Day 4 notes page within my sample packet.  I remind the students to check over all of their notes to make sure they have some of each kind of question stem.  I tell them that I'll come around today during our work time to see if they need help with any particular question stems.  (See Resource File:  Teacher Sample Notes Day Four)

Revisit Objectives:  The students know the objectives for the week, so well by now, they are ready to sing them to me!  Ha!  We revisit our objectives, and I remind students to take neat notes, as I noticed that some looked like they could be neater yesterday.  

Students Read Closely, Research, and Record Notes

30 minutes

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.  (See Resource File:  Day 4 Student Sample) 

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 continue to take note of things I'm noticing to add to my instruction for tomorrow. Here are things I'll be focusing on for day five of our research:

  • Ask students to check and see that they've covered all of the question stems (at least three notes for each question stem by the end of the week)
  • Check to see that information is being copied accurately (locations, names, etc.) 


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.


Share, Review, and Celebrate!

5 minutes

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:  We go all the way around the circle and give a few of the most relevant words to describe the subject of our biography.  To describe Louis Armstrong I say "African American, Jazz, Trumpet".

Review:  I review the skills we're working on this week, highlighting examples from our lesson earlier.  

Celebrate:  Wow!  We only have one day left of researching and note taking!  I remind my students to finish strong, and keep up the wonderful work!