Native American Biography Unit

Title:  Native American Biography UnitAuthor:  Jolene Arndt
Subject(s):  Reading, Writing, Social Studies
Grade Level(s): Grade 3-5Total Time: 2-3 Weeks

Overview / Description:

Students read and listen to biographies.  Students will conduct a research project on a biography of their choosing, make a timeline, write a report and use it to create a seven slide presentation in Google Slides about the Native American person of their choosing.

Learning goals/objectives:

  • Read biographies and explain characteristics of a biography.
  • Take simple research notes while reading a biography.
  • Create a timeline to put life events in chronological order.
  • Write a six paragraph biography report.
  • Insert text and images into a slide presentation using Google Slides.

Workplace Readiness Skill:

XSocial SkillsXCommunication
XTeamworkXCritical Thinking
Attitude and InitiativeXPlanning and Organization
XProfessionalismMedia Etiquette

Content Standards :

RI.5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text

RI.5.5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts.

RI.5.7 Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

RI.5.9 Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

RI.5.9 By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4–5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

W.5.2.B Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic

W.5.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

W.5.6 With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting .

W.5.7 Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

W.5.8 Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.

W.5.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

SS.Hist2.c.i Analyze individuals, groups, and events to understand why their contributions are important to historical change and/or continuity.

SS.Hist3.b.i Identify different historical perspectives regarding people and events in the past.

SS.Inq3.b.i Select appropriate evidence from sources to support a claim.

SS.Inq2.b.i Evaluate resources to determine which best support the inquiry and supporting questions.


T=Teacher Focus Lesson

WG=Whole Group

SM=Small Group


Lesson 1:
  • Introduction to biographies. Make a K-W-L chart.
  • Use the NearPod presentation to introduce biographies and/or the  BrainPopJr. Video.
  • Read a biography of your choosing to the students and discuss the different features of a        biography.  Highlight what type of information included in a biography.
  • Make an anchor chart (and example) with students about what a biography is.
  • Let students free read biographies with a partner.
  • Complete K-W-L chart.
  • Have students fill out an Exit Slip to check for understanding.    
T, W, SM1-2 days/45 min. periods.
Lesson 2:I2-3 days/45 min. periods
Lesson 3:
  • Hand out copies of the Biography Timeline Rubric.
  • Go over the Biography Timeline Rubric with the students so that they know what is expected of them.  Highlight what the task is.
  • Students create a timeline on Timeline Maker including 5 important life events of the famous Native American they chose.
T, I1-2 days/45 min. period
Lesson 4:
  • Hand out copies of the Biography Writing Rubric.
  • Go over the  Biography Writing Rubric with students so they know what is expected of them. Highlight what the task is.
  • They can use MacMillan Readers Biography Worksheet to help plan how to write their reports.
  • Students should use their research as well as their timelines to also help them write their          rough draft biography report.
  • They should use the editing process to develop a final draft.  
I, SM3-4 days/45 min. periods
Lesson 5:
  • Watch Tutorial on Google Slides video.
  • Give students time to go on Google Slides and “play around” trying some of the features        of Google Slides. They can work in small group to help each other.
  • Hand out copies of the Biography Presentation Rubric.
  • Go over the  Biography Presentation Rubric with your students so they know what is expected of them. Highlight the task.
  • Students make a seven slide presentation using Google Slides. Use the task on the top of the rubric as a reminder of what is expected.  
W, SM, I 2-3 days/45 min. periods
Lesson 6:
  •  Watch the “Tips on Giving an Oral Presentations” Video
  • Discuss the video and make an anchor chart so that students remember the tips from the video and can refer back to it.  
  • Introduce the Peer Evaluation form.  Talk about each criteria and what they need to look for.
  • Students take turns presenting to the class their Google Slides presentation.  They may use their reports to help them do their presentation.
T, WG, I1-2 days/45 min. periods

Assessment :


To wrap up the unit revisit the anchor and the K-W-L chart from the first and last lessons.

Highlight these areas:

  • What a biography is?
  • What information is included in a biography?
  • Why do we read biographies?
  • What information is included on a timeline?
  • What order does a timeline follow?
  • What are the tips to follow when giving a presentation?

Play the “Biography Fact Swap” Game.  Follow the directions on the sheet.  You can make it into a competition to see who can fill their page first or you can just use it as a review game.

Extension Activity:

  • Make bio cubes from the readwritethink website with younger students instead of writing a report. ReadWriteThink Bio Cubes
  • To extend the project even further students can turn their Google Slide project into a digital book to be used by a younger class.  Here is a link on how to do that! Digital Books
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