The new CCSS have a greater emphasis on nonfiction text. This has been a big shift in my teaching. Previously, I had focused mostly on literature. I was not sold on the shift to non-fiction text at first, but I have since learned how fun and engaging they can be for the students.
I have found that biographies are a great way to integrate other subjects. Social studies, art, music, and science, can all be discussed chose to read about. Biographies also provide a great opportunity for writing. They are also a great way to teach students about text features in non-fiction texts. Biographies also introduce the students to the lives of some amazing people who have made great accomplishments during their lifetimes.
To start our lesson (and unit) out, I will ask the students if they know what a biography is? We will discuss what a biography is and also the difference between a biography and an autobiography.
Next, I will introduce the biography chapter book we will be reading together as a class later on in the unit, "Who was Dr. Seuss?" by Janet Pascal and play the following video to get them excited about it.
Finally, I will let them know that we will be going to the library and each of them will be checking out a biography from the library.
Pascal, J. B. (2011). Who Was Dr. Seuss. New York, NY : Grosset & Dunlap.
From Theory to Practice
Set the stage for high-interest reading with a purpose through a biography project. Students work together to generate questions they would like to answer about several well-known people, then each student chooses one of these and finds information by reading a biography from the library and doing Internet research. Students create a graphic organizer (a web) to organize the facts they have found and share what they have learned about their subjects through oral presentations. Students evaluate themselves and their classmates by using a rubric during the research and graphic organizer-creation process and by giving written feedback on one another's presentations.
back to top
Bio-Cube: This planning tool can help students organize their research; use it as an extension to the lesson and have them outline the lives they' researched before writing their own biographies.
back to top
FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE
International Reading Association. (2001). Comprehension, Part II: Text Comprehension. International Reading Association's Summary of the (U.S.) National Reading Panel Report "Teaching Children to Read." Retrieved October 1, 2003, from http://www.reading.org/General/CurrentResearch/Reports/NationalReadingPanelReport.aspx.
- By using graphic organizers, students write or draw meanings and relationships of underlying ideas. This has been shown to improve students' ability to recall content.
- By summarizing information, students improve in including ideas related to the main idea, generalizing, and removing redundancy.
- By working in cooperative groups, students may increase their learning of reading strategies through peer discussion. They may also lead to better comprehension.
back to top