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 chapters "A Question of Color" and "Hello and Good-bye" 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: Today is an exciting day! The students will finish their biographies and note taking. I remind them that by the end of today they should have at least three notes for each of the different question stems, and six or more notes for each day. When I checked in with students yesterday, they had a good balance of notes. I chose to read two small excerpts from my sample book today because I wanted the students to hear the conclusion of my biography. There is a lot of relevant information at the end of the book, and I don't want them to miss it! After reading, I have the students help me in identifying notes I could add to my teacher sample for day five. (See Resource File: Teacher Sample Notes Day Five)
Revisit Objectives: We revisit our objectives for "Reading Informational Text" and "Research Note Taking" on the rubric one last time for the week. The students are eager to find out the finales of their biographies and finish their research, so we dig in!
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.
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: After learning so much about creative, inventive, and notable people of the turn-of-the-century, I ask students to turn to a neighbor and tell them what they're excited about sharing with the class in their slide show presentation.
Review: I review the skills we're working on this week, highlighting examples from our lesson earlier.
Celebrate: We give high tens all around for a job well done! I let the students know that next week we'll be using their great notes to create Google slide presentations.