Sunday, May 31, 2015

Who Was Series.....Making it work in 6th grade!

I love the "Who Was" biography series.  Many years ago Amazon was offering them in a 4 for 3 sale, so I decided to grab a few.  I have continued to add to my collection as more books have become available (although I certainly don't have them all!)  Generally written at a 3rd to 4th grade reading level, these books are not only fun to read, but are also informative.  And the kids loved the cover illustrations!   For the past three years, I had my students read a biography and complete a ""Who is Behind the Secret Door?" project.  It used this really cool foldable that I found here.  The kids enjoyed doing this because the "secret door" made it cool.  (You can find the directions and a rubric here for this project.)

However, this year I wanted to do something a bit different.  Common Core Standard RI 6.5 asks students to "analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas."  RI 6.8 wants students to "trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not."  We worked on these concepts together through a read-aloud I did with them called George Crum and the Saratoga Chip.  Then they worked on them collaboratively with the KidsDiscover Ancient Greece magazine--we identified a claim made by the author and found evidence to support the claim.  Then it was time for them to try it independently--but I didn't want them to struggle with the text and the "Who Was" series is perfect for that.

Most of the books in the "Who Was" series make a claim in the first chapter of the book or within the last few pages.  Students had to identify a claim made by the author (I did verify each one with them before they started proving it--I didn't want them to choose a sentence that was incorrect or too difficult to prove.  Only two of the books posed any real difficulty in finding a claim.)  Then they had to prove the claim by citing evidence from the text.  The best part for them was drawing the subject--using the cover as a guide.  They made them about the size of the books --and they really worked hard to make them look good.  After they cut out the person, they traced the outline onto lined paper--I gave them colored lined paper that I found at Walmart because 6th graders love bright colors!   Then they flipped the colored paper over and wrote their response on it (that way the writing was visible when you turned the picture around.)  We taped the picture to the writing at the top and taped a bamboo skewer (also from Walmart) on the back.   Then we stuck them in a foam board I had.  They were so proud of their finished projects.  And they made a great display for our Open House.

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