Discuss with students: Do you have what it takes to be a trailblazer?
Trailblazers are people who follow their passions. They take risks, persevere to overcome barriers and accomplish or defend what they believe is right. They don’t necessarily set out to change the world, but ultimately, their actions make the world a better place. Anyone can potentially become a hero. Think about how the everyday people in these biographies followed their path and changed the world.
Why are the I Am books great for teaching the Common Core?
Comparing point of view
Every book begins with a short first person introduction in the voice of the book’s subject, followed by third person narration of the biography, making each book perfect for comparing and contrasting first and third person point of view.
The books are well written, consistently on grade level, with just the right text complexity to be compelling yet accessible to third to fifth graders.
Characteristics of exemplary nonfiction
The biographies are rich in nonfiction text features that build learning and language skills.
- Table of Contents
- People You Will Meet
- Interesting sidebar articles enhance and amplify the main narrative
- Ten Things You Should Know
- Ten More Things That Are Pretty Cool to Know
- Places to Visit
Activating Prior Knowledge
Surveying the Text: Skim the outside of the book: title, pictures, and text. What did you learn? What does the title tell you? I am going to be reading about ______________. Who is the author? Grace Norwich. Is it fiction or nonfiction? Nonfiction. What type of nonfiction? Biography. Do you think we are reading about someone who is alive or someone who lived in the past? What clues told you this? Answers will vary. Why do you think the author wrote a book about this person? The person did something that changed the world.
During Reading Activities
Common Core asks students to engage in literary discussions. The activities below require students to engage in whole group and small group discussions.
Class Discussions [RI.1]
Begin each class with “I wonder…?” discussions. When students read, they record questions about the content of the text, making note of areas that confused them. Or, they question the author. Questions will vary: When reading the map on page seven in Sacagawea, a student might ask, “I wonder how far they traveled in a day.” The teacher will guide them in figuring out the answer by using information from the map and timeline.
Begin with students reading a section of the text. Step into the past and walk in the footsteps of a trailblazer. I Am is a series of short, accessible, high-interest biographies of famous personalities whose courage and determination made the world a better place. Then have them work with a partner to engage in a discussion and summarize what was read.
Nonfiction Text Features [RI.7]
[Use the reproducible “Nonfiction Text Features”] Students work in small groups to create a list of the different nonfiction text features and their purpose. As a class, they contribute to a class poster, sorting the text features into two categories: those that organize the structure of the book and those that add to the content. Answers will vary: Book structure features include table of contents, glossary, and index. Features that provide additional information on the topic: people you will meet, maps, timelines, charts, images, text boxes, etc.
Organizational Structure of Text [RI.5]
The word chronological is made up of two words, chrono- and -logical. Chrono- is the Latin spelling of the Greek word, Kronos, the Greek God of time. Therefore, chrono- means time. Logical means to make sense or sound reasoning. Put the two together and you get chronological, which means logically organized by time, the order the events occurred. In what sections of the book does Norwich organize information chronologically? (Timeline, the chapters from birth to death, the ten things you should know.) What features are not organized chronologically? (Table of contents, glossary, index.) Why do you think different text features are organized differently? (The table of contents is organized by the order that information is presented in the book. The index and glossary are organized alphabetically, so that readers can locate information based on a key word or idea.)
All books in the series have a glossary located in the back of the book. A mini lesson modeling how to look up the bold words and use the glossary will help younger students read independently.
Word Study [RFS.3]
Have students collect words and write them on index cards to create an interactive word-sort bulletin board. Depending on the targeted words, they may sort words by letter patterns, syllables, or affixes—analysis that supports decoding, reading fluency, and spelling.
After Reading Activities
- Use details from the biography to create a narrative biographical poem.
- Write journal entries, retelling important events in first person narrative. Date the entries and include illustrations, maps, diagrams, or other nonfiction text features.
- Go to the “Places to Visit” section located in the back of the book. Research three facts about any of those places. Use details from your research to explain how the historical person’s accomplishments have influenced our world today. Create a class presentation citing your sources.
- Pretend you are a news reporter living in the past. Write a newspaper article about the subject of the biography. Focus on a significant event. Include who, what, where, when, how, and why details.
- After reading several of these biographies, host a classroom contest for “Most Memorable Heroes.” Have students write an argument explaining why the person they learned about should be the winner. Include contributions that impact our lives today.
- Pretend you are a curator for a museum and you are trying to raise funds to create an exhibit for the historical person. Write a speech to convince the community to give funds to the exhibit. Explain why it is important that this exhibit be created.