In this unit, students choose to research about either Roberto Clemente or Althea Gibson: two respected American sports figures. Students will develop their understanding of the cultural context in which these athletes competed and the barriers these athletes broke during the times in which they lived. Students will build their research skills by reading biographical articles and other informational texts. They will read, reread, and synthesize, taking notes and choosing one of two different organizational structures (chronological or order of importance) with which to organize their ideas. For their mid-unit assessment, they will synthesize their notes in a graphic organizer, which they will return to later in the unit when writing their letter to a publisher (the Performance Task).
During the second half of the unit, students will step back from their own research to participate in some “shared writing.” With teacher support, the class will write and revise a model letter to a publishing company as if they were Sharon Robinson, explaining the need for a biography to be written for elementary students about her father, Jackie Robinson, and his legacy. (They will draw from their opinion essays from their End of Unit 2 Assessment.) This shared writing experience will help students continue to build their skills to write arguments based on multiple sources, focusing on crafting clear opinions and providing sufficient reasons and evidence. After this guided practice experience, students will return to writing about the athlete they researched. For their end of unit assessment, students will write their best independent draft of their letter to a publishing company, explaining the need for a biography about their chosen athlete, in which they discuss the athlete, evaluate the barriers that he/she broke during the era in which he/she lived, and his or her impact on American society through her or his legacy. They must support their opinion with evidence from their research. They then participate in critique and feedback from peers and the teacher in order to improve on their draft. Students then read their letters out loud to the class. This written performance task centers on NYSP12 ELA Standards RI.5.9, W.5.1, W.5.4, W.5.5, W.5.7, W.5.8, L.5.1, L.5.2, and L.5.6.