Gather on the rug. I show the students all the work we’ve done in our Biography unit. I tell them we are going to answer a WHY question: Why are these people famous?
We’ve learned a lot from the biographies we’ve read. We have analyzed what questions the authors of these books asked and answered for us. We’ve compared two books and two authors’ ways of telling the story of MLK’s life. We have learned a lot about Martin Luther King, Jr and other famous people. Now, I want to know what you think…. Why were these people worthy of someone writing their life story? Why are they famous?
First, I will use a NON Civil rights leader – Neil Armstrong – as the subject for crafting a model paragraph. I want the students to come to the civil rights change agent idea themselves, so I don’t want to start with a social reformer. I expect my students to transfer the charateristics we've been learning about biography to ANY biography.
I open the First American Heroes book to the page on Neil Armstrong. As we read the info under the doc camera, I reinforce the “great questions” with turn and talk strategies. I have a poster of "Great questions to ask for close reading" that I refer to all the time. I ask students to tell their neighbors what questions are being answered. See resources.
Tell your partner what questions the author answered in the bullet list. Tell your partner the main idea of this paragraph. Let’s read the subtitle under the title of his name. How did the author describe him? Do you think that might be the main idea of the whole article? Let’s consider the images. Why did the author include this picture and not a picture of Neil Armstrong blowing out birthday candles or playing baseball?
I write a paragraph about Neil Armstrong on chart paper so I can post it as a model. I use the OREO formula: O – opinion stated; R – reason for that opinion; E – and example that supports that reason O – restate my opinion.
Next I will use MLK as the subject for doing a shared write to craft a paragraph telling why they believe MLK was famous. We will do a modified co-operative strip paragraph in this step.
· Team sits in a knee circle. Together each team finishes one of the frame sentences I hand out.
· We assemble the paragraph in a pocket chart. This is where I zero in on the CCSS W2.1. I quickly project the standard up (I use the BL site. The standards are formatted nicely to project for whole group view) We read the standard, and use it as a checklist to review our paragraph.
Depending on how much time I have, I help the students refine the paragraph, adding and changing words so it flows and, of course, editing for conventions.
Finally, I will give them copies of the biography pages they used to study text features and a copy of their questionnaire, and I ask them write an opinion paragraph about their person. The task will be to write a 5 to six sentence paragraph using the OREO model of opinion writing. I will give them the OREO worksheet to support the structure of their paragraph. They will not be required to write on the form, but it will be a handy reference. I will pull my struggling students up to the table with the OREO form, their biography page and their questionnaire. I will stand by for support, as well as circulating around the class. The structure of the paragraph will be my focus as I monitor work. Are they writing supporting reasons and examples? Did they restate their opinion in slightly different words?