Saturday, January 18, 2014

Using Biographies to Discuss Nonfiction, Achievement, and Martin Luther King (freebie included)

Remember me...I used to blog.  It has been over a month.  That is the longest I have ever gone without blogging.  December was crazy.  I was finishing up finals for my first semester as a doctoral student, along with the normal hustle and bustle of December.  Then, I used the holiday break to unplug.  I avoided my laptop all together.  I used my iPad and read 8 books on my Kindle.  I love Young Adult Fiction!!!  I am going to do some more posts to tell you about the books I read.

I knew I wanted to get my students to think this month about goal-setting and achievement in the month of January.  I decided we would look at biographies this month.  Reading biographies is a great way to practice a lot of those nonfiction Common Core Reading skills. I had researched read alouds to discuss goal-setting months ago and came across  this recommendation somewhere. I purchased the book on Amazon.

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Dare to Dream! is a nonfiction book with twenty-five short biographies about people with great stories.  We are reading one biography each day.  Each chapter is about 3-4 pages, so it is a great length for a nonfiction read aloud.   As we read, we discuss each person's accomplishments and traits to describe that person. We also are keeping an anschor chart where we track "big idea" questions that we can ask about society or history based on the concepts each person stood for.

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At the end, I am going to have each student choose one "big idea" question to do more research on.

I also started finally really doing guided reading this month.  I have wanted to do more small group reading instruction the last year and a half, but sometimes you can only tackle so many things at one time. We have a subscription.  This month, I am assigning biographies for their guided reading texts from Raz-kids.  They listen to the story first on their own.  Then, we meet to discuss.  They read a story a second time on their own, but I have them fill out a graphic organizer while they read the second time.  Some of them chose to read and fill out the organizer with a partner. Then, we meet again to discuss what they wrote down.  At the end of the week, they take the quiz and I give them a writing assignment as a response to the reading. This week, we had a field trip planned and some guest speaskers for Thursday and Friday, making it a short week for instruction time.  So this week, we all read the same text on Raz-kids and discussed as a group since we were short on time. I chose a higher level text, since we were discussing as a group.  We read "Historical Peacemakers" (a level Z text) because it mentioned Martin Luther King.  We discussed what makes someone a peacemaker.

For our quote of the week this week for our journal writing, we used a quote from Martin Luther King from my Activities for Martin Luther King Day packet

Next week, we will listen to his "I Have a Dream" speech, and they will get sections of the speech to rewrite in their own words.  We will do this as part of our guided reading time.

We will discuss what social injustice is, and how people choose causes to fight for.  The idea of social injustice came up when we read about Nellie Bly as well. We are going to look at what social injustice has looked like at different periods in history.  We are studying the Causes of the American Revolution right now, so I want us to discuss social injustice for this time period as well. 

My students are going to be choosing a biography of their own choice to read.  I am going to be handing out this Biography Study Guide this week that outlines what they need to do.  You can get a copy here.

I have been using this study guide format for a lot of our units for the last month to help them take more ownership of their learning in a unit.  I really want to be a facilator of learning and put more of the work back on them.  I will blog more about the study guides in another post.

On a side note, since I have been talking about social injustice I want to ask you to consider reading and signing a petition. I try to not to blog about personal things too much. This petition is about getting the government to review how foster and adoptive parents are treated by state agencies. I am aware of this petition because my mom adopted my younger siblings. Often parents adopt children hoping to finally have their happy ending after experiencing years of infertility.  They want to provide a good home to kids that need one.  They hope that love and a good home will be enough for that child.  However, often it is not.  Children who experience early childhood trauma often end up having attachment disorders, which can result in a lack of empathy and even violence.  As teachers, we have probably had children with attachment disorders in our classrooms. Adoptive parents trying to find the right mental health resources for their children with attachment disorders often end up having no other choice but to put their children back into foster care due to safety concerns.  Some mental health resources are only available to children as wards of the state.   These adoptive parents often end up being treated as abusive parents by state agencies (which only adds to the trauma they have already experienced themselves).  It is a sad and very complicated situation that needs awareness raised, so that ultimately these children who have experienced early childhood trauma can get they help they need and find long-term loving homes where everyone feels loved and safe. Thank you for considering signing. They are trying to raise 1,000 signatures by February 1st.

Have a great weekend!

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