Biography Unit

Dear Parents,
Your children will be returning to nonfiction but in a different structure. This time, the texts will be stories—about real people who have done remarkable things, many of whom have changed the world. They will learn that when readers study biography, they will read to learn about the adversity these people faced and how they handled that adversity. They will read to learn not only about the one person the book is about but also the group of people that person represents and the groups of people that person impacted. That is, we read biography not only to learn about specific famous figures, but also to learn about the world in which we live, which will connect with the work we are doing in social studies around communities.

As with all units of study, the primary goal of this unit is to help children become stronger readers. The main objective is not to learn content, but rather to learn how to read the genre of biography. Reading skills will be emphasized above all else. That is, this unit is not about memorizing every detail of this remarkable person’s life, but rather using story grammar to determine importance, to synthesize, and to analyze critically across long stretches of text, ultimately growing theories about them.

This unit will begin right before CMTs so that children will be made familiar with biographies, since standardized tests continue to include an increased volume of informational passages. We have also continued to read and analyze nonfiction passages in social studies that will also support the work they are expected to do on the CMT.

To support your children at home you can use prompts the previous series unit to assist them in explaining their thinking clearly about these extraordinary people.
•“I think ______ is ______, because _____”.
•“I think______ is ______ because in this part, he/she ______”.
•“Then later, in this part he/she ______”.
•“This evidence (from the above statements) shows that ______ is ______ because ______”.
•Perhaps it’s because . . .
•Or maybe it’s . . .
•Another thing it could be . . .
•This connects to earlier when . . .
•That reminds me of . . .
•A stronger word to describe that is . . .
•This seems significant because . . .

Towards this end of this unit (mid/late March), using these prompts will allow them to think about life lessons:
•I learned from (person) that sometimes people . . . but instead, people should . . .
•I learned from (the person) that in life, it is important to . . .
•(Person) changes from . . . to . . .
•Even if you . . . , you should . . .
•Don’t forget that even if you . . . , you should . . .
•(Person) teaches us not only about . . . , but also about . . . .
•When I first read about (person), I thought . . . but now I realize . . .

Thank you for your support,
Miss Z

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