Summary of lesson (Grades 4, 5 and ELD)

This pair of lessons was developed for fourth and fifth graders, all of whom are first or second generation immigrants. All are Latino, and about a third of them are English Learners. Their teacher wanted to answer this question: How can these lessons address the CCSS writing standards, while making culturally relevant connections for students and engaging them in critical thinking - both of which will be for them a springboard to the writing of a report about a historical upstander?

She begins by teaching her students to write an informative essay - a firsthand biographical sketch. She builds on that lesson by teaching her students to write an essay that blends opinion and informative writing - an analytical, reflective essay that uses selected literature and the students' firsthand biographical sketches as sources of evidence and examples.

The strength of this lesson is the instructional support she gives her students for such challenging writing genres. She focuses on scaffolding her students' understanding of both writing genres: the structure and organization, relevant sources of evidence, and the language that links ideas and provides coherence.

Finally, she is a writing guide for her students, writing with them and modeling the organizational thinking for both writing genres.