To start this activity, I select a short, but engaging one page biography to read to the class. The purpose of this is to model the independent reading of informational text they'll complete in the next section. I used a one page biography in a reading comprehension book. Any such biography, whether it be in a reading/social studies text book or copied from a teacher resource will work for the activity. Another point- integrating with current science or social studies topics is a always a great touch, especially given the limited amount of time we sometimes have to give to those areas of study.
After reading "Daniel Boone, Frontiersman" write answers, given by the students, to the following questions on the Smart Board:
-Which event happened first? Which happened last?
-Name one character. What is one trait you infer the character has? Explain why you think that.
-What is something you think that person does? Why do you think they do this?
-Summarize the story in four sentences. Tell about the characters and what they do.
-What do you think is the main idea of this biography? Why?
These are the same questions the students will answer after they read the longer text during the Application portion of the lesson. Modeling the activity will help familiarize them with what to look for as they read.
*A note before enacting: Examples used in the Warm Up will probably be of a familiar person in history. The linked text in the next section, "Who Am I?" doesn't provide a name, and for that matter, doesn't mention whether the subject is a girl or boy. To avoid the distraction, tell the class ahead of time that they are to decide whether the story is about a male or female, and when they're finished, ask them if it really even mattered? I describe this in the next section as a reflection.
I came across this wonderful text, "Who Am I?" and realized what a perfect story it would be for this activity. The story is interesting, not very long and the questions asked of the student are written in a way to see how this informational text has been comprehended. Before I set my kids free to read the story, "Who Am I?" I refer them to the bottom of the page to review the questions, and show that they're the same set we used in the warm up activity. Although their task is to read the passage for understanding, seeing the questions ahead of time will heighten awareness towards important aspects, for example: character traits and the motives behind a character's actions.
The students read independently to themselves, and I monitor to make sure none are speeding through in order to get to the assignment quickly. It's important for them to read thoroughly so the foundation for responding to the questions is set.
As they finish the reading, they take out a piece of notebook paper and respond to the five reading skill components: Sequence, Character Traits, Motive, Summarize, Main Idea. They can highlight ideas that stand out ahead of time- an effective comprehension strategy. I like to tell the kids to imagine that someday someone will write a biography about them.
*A great extension activity would be for the kids to respond to these questions with answers that they themselves would give. It's fun to imagine that someday someone will write a biography about them.
The students will turn to a partner and ask them to answer the two or three of the five reading questions, but with the day's lesson in mind. They then switch and the second student answers the remaining questions.
For instance, the first question is about Sequencing. The student will ask, "What happened during this lesson first today? What happened last?" She may answer, "The first thing we did during this lesson today was read a biography on Daniel Boone. The last thing I'm doing is asking these questions."
The next question is on Character Traits. They are to infer one trait the character has and why. An answer could be, "One of the characters (people in the classroom) is the teacher. She is fair. I think that's one of her traits because I've seen her treat everyone equally."
They follow this through with each of the questions. I don't have the kids write these answers down. Sometimes it's nice and just as effective if they turn to each other and discuss. After all of the reading and writing they completed during the main section, I've no doubt they'll be happy to talk.ï»¿