Unit 4: People Who Changed the World
In this unit, students improve reading and writing standards and skills as they explore biographies of famous leaders and change agents.
In this biography-based unit, second graders explore biographies of changemakers around the world. The unit has three main sections.
In the first section, students research and learn about people who have changed the world by inventing or discovering something new. In this section, students will explore how inventions or discoveries can change the world and what it takes to turn an idea into action. In the second section, students research and learn about people who have changed the world by making the world and environment a better place for everyone. In the third section, students research and learn about people who have changed the world by standing up for what they believe in and fighting for what others think is impossible. In this section, students will explore the ways some leaders have persevered in the face of obstacles and stood up for themselves or their ideas when many had stopped believing in them. In this section, students are asked to compare and contrast two biographies about the same person. Compare and contrast in this unit should go deeper than text features and structures. Although students can note differences in text features, the main focus should be on comparing and contrasting the different points and the reasons the authors use to support the points in two texts about the same person.
In each of the sections, students read biographies that expose them to a wide variety of themes, content, and history. Because of this, it is incredibly important that the necessary framing is done before reading a text so that students can deeply engage with the biographies and fully understand the challenges and successes of the different people being studied. Without framing or context, students may miss why each person’s actions are inspirational. It is our hope that this unit will open students’ eyes to the multitude of ways in which a person, regardless of race or gender, can influence and inspire change. For readers, this unit is a combination of Read Aloud and shared/independent reading. While engaging with the text students continue to notice the connection between events and how noticing connections helps the reader better understand a person’s actions and influence. Students also build on the work they did in the previous unit by continuing to explore the author’s purpose for writing a text, and how the author’s purpose influences the types of details and reasons they include in the text.
Finally, in this unit students explore how reading multiple texts about the same topic helps them learn more about a topic, especially because authors include different facts and details depending on their purpose for writing. When discussing the text, students use all of the strategies they have learned in previous units to participate in partner, small group, or whole-class discussions. When building on others’ talk in conversations, students are continuing to work on linking their comments to the remarks of others and asking questions for clarification or further explanation if needed. Students may also begin to critique and analyze the reasoning of others as they build on and respond to their classmates’ comments. As writers, students continue to work on building their writing fluency by writing daily in response to the Target Task question using subordinating conjunctions to write more complex sentences. Students also have multiple opportunities to continue to build their informational writing skills, with an emphasis on crafting strong paragraphs. Students will learn how to brainstorm and write a paragraph using a single-paragraph outline, crafting strong topic sentences, supporting details, and concluding statements. The unit culminates with students having a chance to continue to refine their research and writing skills by participating in a research project about a local changemaker.
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Book: Honda: The Boy who Dreamed of Cars by Mark Weston (Lee & Low Books, 2014)
Book: How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018)
Book: Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson (Sterling Children's Books; Illustrated edition, 2019)
Book: Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington (Calkins Creek; Illustrated edition, 2019)
Book: Sharuko: Peruvian Archeologist by Monica Brown (Lee & Low Books; Bilingual edition, 2020)
Book: Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012)
Book: National Geographic Readers: Barack Obama by Caroline Crosson Gilpin (National Geographic Kids; Illustrated edition, 2014)
Book: Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx by Jonah Winter (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2009)
Book: National Geographic Readers: Sonia Sotomayor by Barbara Kramer (National Geographic Kids; Illustrated edition, 2016)
Book: Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya (StarWalk Kids Media, 2014)
Book: Malala Yousafzai: Champion for Education by Jodie Shepherd (Children's Press; Illustrated edition, 2016)
Book: The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter (Schwartz & Wade, 2011)
Book: Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books; Illustrated edition, 2010)
Book: Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved our Planet by Elizabeth Rusch and Teresa Martinez (Charlesbridge; Illustrated edition, 2019)
Book: Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Eric-Shabazz Larkin (Readers to Eaters, 2013)
Assessment Text: “Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parad” by Melissa Sweet (Clarion Books)
These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
Noticing the connection between events helps a reader understand a person's actions.
Authors always have a purpose for writing a book. They use the details in the book to convey their purpose.
Reading multiple texts about the same topic helps readers learn lots of different details. Authors include different details depending on their purpose.
Participate in shared research and writing projects.
Brainstorm and outline using a Single Paragraph Outline.
Introduce the topic with a strong topic sentence
Provide a strong concluding statement.
Use facts and definitions to support a point.
Build on others' talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others.
Ask for clarification and further explanation as needed about topics and texts under discussion.
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 4, view our 2nd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
Bend 1: You can change the world by inventing or discovering something new.
Bend 2: You can change the world by making the world and environment better for everyone.
Bend 3: You can change the world by standing up for what you believe in and fighting for what others think is impossible.
Describe what steps Honda took toward making his dream come true and why by identifying and explaining details an author uses to support an idea.
Describe how Honda changed the world by identifying and explaining details an author uses to support an idea.
Explain why Temple did not like hugs and what solution she invented and its impact by describing the connection between a series of events.
Describe why Julio devoted his medical skills to the study of the Indigenous history of Peru by explaining details an author uses to support an idea.
Explain what “and now Peruvians tell their own stories” means by describing how specific reasons support specific points an author makes.
Use subordinating conjunctions to write more interesting and complex sentences.
Explain why a classmate called Charles “indefatigable” by identifying and explaining details an author uses to support an idea.
Explain how Charles Henry Turner filled the world with “questions, questions, questions” and why it is important.
Explain how Wu Chien Shiung lived up to her name by identifying and explaining details the author uses to support an idea.
Explain why Wu Chien Shiung was called the “Queen of Physics” and defend whether others thought so or not by describing the connection between a series of events.
Discussion & Writing
Write an informational report describing how a person made the world a better place by stating a claim and including supporting details from the text.
Explain how Wangari changed the country by identifying and describing the connection between a series of events.
Explain why the author describes Jane as a brave woman who was not afraid to do something that had never been done before by describing how specific reasons support specific points an author makes.
Describe Mario’s nagging question and why it was important by describing the connection between a series of events.
Explain what Mario means when he says, “We saved our planet once. We can do it again” and why it is important.
Explain how Will Allen can “see what others can’t see” by describing how specific reasons support a specific point an author makes.
Describe Sonia’s childhood by identifying and describing the connection between a series of events.
Explain what the author means by “You never know what can happen—especially when you water a flower” by describing how specific reasons support specific points an author makes.
Describe how Sonia learned the lesson “You have to get up and try again. That is something really hard to do…” by describing the connection between a series of events.
Describe Sonia Sotomayor’s career as a judge by describing the connection between a series of events.
Compare and contrast Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx with Sonia Sotomayor by identifying and explaining points presented by two texts on the same topic.
Explain how Hope helped Barack Obama make his dreams come true by describing how specific reasons support a specific point an author makes.
Describe two times that Obama “got up and did something” by describing the connection between a series of events.
Compare and contrast Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope and Barack Obama by identifying and explaining points presented by two texts on the same topic.
Explain why Malala is a warrior with words by describing how specific reasons support specific points an author makes.
Describe Malala using two examples from the text.
Compare and contrast Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words and Malala Yousafzai: Champion for Education by identifying and explaining points presented by two texts on the same topic.
Informative Writing – 4 days
Research a local changemaker and describe how they changed your community.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Produce, expand, and rearrange complete simple and compound sentences (e.g., The boy watched the movie; The little boy watched the movie; The action movie was watched by the little boy).
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Capitalize holidays, product names, and geographic names.
— Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., describe foods that are spicy or juicy).
— Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).
— Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
— Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
— Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.
— Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.
— Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text.
— Compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.
— Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
— Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
— Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
— Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.
— Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
— Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.
— Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.
— With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.
— Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).
— Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.
— Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
— Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known prefix is added to a known word (e.g., happy/unhappy, tell/retell).
— Use knowledge of the meaning of individual words to predict the meaning of compound words (e.g., birdhouse, lighthouse, housefly; bookshelf, notebook, bookmark).
— Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
— Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
— Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.
— Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently.
— Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.
— By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 2—3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
— With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.
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