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Biography Book Clubs, Rising Grades 4-5, Summer 2021

By Lucy Calkins, Teachers College Reading & Writing Project

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This unit supports standards-based foundational skills for Rising Grades 4/5 students. This skill-development work includes adjusting one’s reading based on purpose, reading narrative nonfiction differently than expository nonfiction, note-taking, critical reading, text synthesis, and asking and answering questions. 

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About the TCRWP Virtual Summer School Curriculum

These all-new, standards-based—and joyful—summer school units/modules were developed around what we observe to be the most important needs of students as they emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and prepare for the new school year. We offer the units in a suggested sequence, but, because we know that some schools and districts will wish to plan their own sequence, each module can be purchased a-la-carte as well. See the “Subscription Terms and Conditions” section on this webpage for more information.

About this Unit/Module

This unit supports readers in both nonfiction reading and knowledge development. The first bend consolidates the all-important skills of reading nonfiction texts, with an emphasis on the following: book orientation to activate prior knowledge and to discern text structure, the importance of planning stopping spots as one reads, literal and inferential comprehension to ascertain the main idea, inference and synthesis to grow meaning, point of view, and vocabulary development. Students will use sketching, flagging, and peer-conversation to note and synthesize what they are learning across the text. As part of this, key vocabulary will be emphasized. 

In Bends II and III, students read within biography clubs. In both these bends, students will read biographies that go together—e.g., musicians and artists, scientists, athletes—and they will read these books in clubs. Because students will all be reading biographies, cross-text instruction can help all of them to engage in similar work, looking for turning points in the person’s life, for the role of mentors, and for how the person dealt with challenges. The emphasis is on flagging, very brief note-taking, and talking rather than on writing extensively about this reading. 

Throughout this work, instruction supports standards-based foundational skills. This skill-development work includes adjusting one’s reading based on purpose, reading narrative nonfiction differently than expository nonfiction, note-taking, critical reading, text synthesis, and asking and answering questions. 

For more information about the TCRWP Virtual Summer School Curriculum, visit UnitsofStudy.com/SummerSchool.

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