Looking For Connections-Biography Unit

We were reading one of the posts on Slice for Life which spoke about how the events in our lives make us who we are and have brought us to the moment of our life we are now in.  It was about celebrating the good and bad and realizing that if one of those events were different the path of our life would be different. The first thought that came to mind was our biography unit of study.  This year we decided to structure the unit differently than in past years.  Instead of having children study time periods which were connected to a famous person, we had the children study famous authors that we have read books about and to connect their life with their text.

As the unit was progressing, the thing that stood out the most to us was the ability of the children to find the connections between events, people, goals, disasters and many other things that have occurred in the author’s life and the writing the author produced.  They felt like they were putting together pieces of a puzzle and it made them so proud when they could explain why the author wrote a book that we have shared in class.

Contentedness in life is such an important concept for children to learn and using their natural curiosity enhances this process.  They were already curious about the books that we have read, now they were given a chance to study the author and gather the answers  to their questions.

Reflections: Good to Great

ZOOM: Connecting Life to Text

OBSERVE: Children were able to make connections between the author’s life and work


ANALYZE: Students were engaged and actively seeking the answer to their questions.  The were very proud when they were able to explain the choices of the author when looking at their work.  It is not great because they needed  more background knowledge on historic events and time periods to better inform their workReflection

ADJUST: Take a look at the pacing guide to allow for more history before the biography unit

SHIFT: For certain authors, the children had solid background information to fully understand the connections but for others this was missing.  I would make sure that the instruction before this unit sets the stage with the necessary background information.

  • Seymour Simon (We just came out of an informational unit so they had the background)
  • Dan Gutman (We continuously discuss reluctant reader so they had the background)
  • Eve Bunting ( Our unit on immigration is later in the year)
  • Patricia Polacco (Our unit on cultural diversity is later in the year)
  • Chris Van Allsburg ( We discuss social expectations for blacks (Civil Rights literature like Sister Anne’s Hands, The Sweet Smell of Roses, The Other Side)  and women (Shark Lady and Jane Goodall).  However, we have not discussed the different social expectations for men.  This would help them understand his


One thought on “Looking For Connections-Biography Unit

  1. This is such an important message. We are all shaped by the events and people around us. I’m often amazed at how much of who I am is clarified by knowing where and when my growing up years took place. Your students are fortunate to be given experience exploring this view early in their education. It will make a difference in their study of history, art, music, literature, and life.

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