Grade: 1 Unit: 5 Title: American Contributions Dates of Instruction

Grade: 1
Unit: 5
Essential Question
How do we learn about people
who contribute to the lives of
others in our communities and
Title: American Contributions
Key Content: The student will…
Read non-fiction independently, proficiently, and fluently.
See and describe the connection between two key events or ideas in a
text and between texts.
Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition; reread when
Unit Focus
Learn about famous Americans in informational and
nonfiction books; read nonfiction independently and
fluently, to learn about the contributions made by
interesting people in America; make connections on a
timeline between events during a similar time period;
write and revise an opinion piece; focus on context
while reading/rereading for meaning.
Vocabulary and Terms to Emphasize
Write an opinion about an interesting person studied in this unit,
supporting their choices with reasons; revise to strengthen writing, using
proper grammar and punctuation.
Describe the connection between two things (e.g. people, events, ideas, etc.) in a text.
Text Connection
With support, read informational texts appropriate for first grade.
Dates of Instruction: _______________________
Understand spoken words, syllables, and sounds by being able to distinguish long and short
vowels, produce single-syllable words by blending, isolating, and segmenting sounds in singlesyllable words.
Decode grade 1 level words: know spelling-sound correspondence for consonant diagraphs and
regularly spelled one-syllable words; vowels and final e; number of syllables in a word and that
every syllable must have a vowel; decode two-syllable words; read inflectional endings; read
first grade irregularly spelled words.
Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension (i.e., grade level text
fluency with comprehension and use context to confirm, or self-correct).
Sight Words
Write opinion piece by introducing topic/book, stating opinion and reason, provide closure.
Writing: Opinion
Use standard English grammar in writing/ speaking (upper-and lowercase letters; common,
proper, and possessive nouns; noun/verb agreement; correct pronoun agreements (e.g., they,
them, their); tense; adjectives; conjunctions; determiners; prepositions; and complete simple
and compound sentences.
Determine the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade
appropriate reading, using multiple strategies (context, affixes, and frequently occurring roots).
Ask/answer questions for information, additional help, or clarification.
Grade: 1
Unit: 5
Title: American Contributions
Dates of Instruction: _______________________
Suggested Activities/Investigations/Demos:
READING /INFORMATIONAL: Read (as a class, in guided reading groups, or independently) biographies about several early American figures
during this unit. Have students create and record events on a simple timeline in order to make connections between events and historical figures
during this time. The timeline will give the students a sense of chronology and understanding of how everything fits together. Continue to add to the
timeline throughout the unit. Encourage the students to use context clues and good reader strategies when they get stuck. Extension activity:
Create an American Contribution word wall.
READING /INFORMATIONA/FLUENCY: Have students practice reading one of their favorite biographies from this unit until they can read it
fluently and with expression. They should use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary. Have
the students practice reading with a buddy.
READING/MUSIC/VOCABULARY: Display the lyrics to two songs, such as The Yankee Doodle Boy and You’re a Grand Old Flag, both by George
M. Cohan (see Resources) on an overhead or LCD projector. Sing the songs as a class several times. Ask the students to choose words that are
interesting/unknown to them, and write them on the board. Using a think-aloud strategy, model using the context to find the meaning of one or
two of the words, then have the students look for context clues to determine the meanings of the other words. Students should continue to create
word cards and add any new words to their word banks. Extension activity: Have the students write another verse to one of the songs.
WRITING /OPINION/VOCABULARY: Ask the students to use their new words by writing three opinion sentences about their favorite or most
interesting one, they learned about during this unit. They should name the person, support their opinion based on what they have read, include at
least three new words from their word bank, and illustrate each sentence to give added meaning to the words.
READING/LITERACY/WRITING/REVISION: Read and discuss The Hatmaker’s Sign, by Candace Fleming and Robert Parker (or a similar book
that relates to revision). Discuss the importance of revision and Ben Franklin’s story when even Thomas Jefferson’s draft needed revision. Instruct
students to revise their opinion paper about their favorite/most interesting person in this unit, adding descriptive words and editing punctuation and
grammar as needed. Create a newsletter that includes all the stories and publish it using digital publishing program.
READING/LITERARY/INFORMATIONAL: Demonstrate the different genre characteristics by pairing informational biographies with fictional books
about the same person. Discuss how the books vary and if they should be read differently, as well as how they connect to each other. Using a
Venn diagram, compare and contrast the genres and information learned from each of the books. Option: Separate students into two groups; each
group presents what they learned from the book through the use of the Smart Board or poster. (Suggested read-aloud literary books: Little House in
the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder; Willie Was Different, by Norman & Molly Rockwell; Rockwell: A Boy and His Dog, by Loren Spiotta-DiMare;
Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson, by Sharon Robinson; A. Lincoln and Me, by Louise Borden; Mr. Lincoln’s Whiskers, by Karen
Winnick; George Washington and the General’s Dog, by Frank Murphy; The Hatmaker’s Sign: A Story of Benjamin Franklin, by Candace Fleming.
Suggested informational texts: Rookie Biographies series about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, Jackie
Robinson, Laura Ingalls Wilder; Let’s Read About series includes George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Cesar Chavez.)
GUEST SPEAKER/LISTENING/QUESTIONING: Invite a person from the community (who has made a notable contribution) to visit your
classroom. Have the person share his/her story; then encourage the students to ask questions to gather additional information or to clarify
understanding. Follow up the visit by having the students write thank-you notes telling one new thing they learned. You may also consider dressing
up, or inviting someone who impersonates a historical figure, and make a “guest appearance.”
DISCUSSION/ART/ART CONNECTION/RESEARCH: Select several works of art to view (see Resources). Ask the students to share with a partner
what they notice about the work. As a group, discuss who they think the person in the work is or what he or she might do, based on their
observations. Write the name of the subjects on the board. Ask the students if anyone has heard of any of these important people. Have students
find and read additional books/articles about one of the subjects, then share what they learned, and from the artist’s depiction what was learned
about the subject in the picture (i.e., Are the struggles and accomplishments of the person evident in the art work?).
Context Clues
Good Reader Strategies
Word Wall
Buddy Reading
Context Clues
Vocabulary Word Cards
Graphic Organizer: Venn Diagram
Grade: 1
Unit: 5
Title: American Contributions
Dates of Instruction: _______________________
Cross-Curricular Connections
Religion/Values: Include the study of American religious leaders (e.g., Popes, Saints) and important people in
daily lives who exemplify the Catholic way of life. Identify characteristics of a community member who has Saintlike qualities; write an opinion letter to the Pope stating why this person should be sainted. Research: How does
someone become a Saint? What are the qualities of a Saint? Refer to Loyola Kids Book of Heroes: Stories of
Catholic Heroes and Saints Throughout History. Create a newsletter about the Saints or religious leaders.
Art: Study an American artist; develop a list of the artist’s qualities, making a connection between the artist and
Catholicism; connect art work details to writing details; create a visual representation of a Saint or one of the
Americans studied during the unit.
Social Studies: Have students read about Saints and identify their country of origin; list the qualities of Christ that
is exemplified by the Saint; research the Saint’s country for five differences between America and the Saint’s
country; have students dress up as a Saint and present what they learned through the use of a poster, diorama,
and visual display.
Art links:
Click on and type in John Singleton Copley, or Gilbert
Stuart, or George P.A. Healey in the search box (each artist has several
works of historical figures).
Song lyrics links:
Click on and type in You’re a Grand Old Flag
and/or Yankee Doodle Boy, or go to and type
George Cohan in the search box, scroll down and click on songs.
Poetry link:
For poetry that connects to the unit, click on and
type subject (e.g., Paul Revere’s Ride) in search box.
For a link to Catholic saints, go to and type
Saint stories for kids in the search box.
Assessing Student Understanding
 Students will make a connection between historical events and figures from the same time period by
keeping a timeline of early America.
 Students will write an opinion paper detailing a favorite/most interesting person from this unit, naming
the person, why they chose the person based on text, use three new vocabulary words, and add
 Students will demonstrate ability and willingness to ask a speaker questions in order to
obtain more information and/or clarify what they heard.
 Students will revise their writing, making a noticeable improvement between the first
draft and the final product. Revisions include adding descriptive language, editing
misspellings, grammar, and punctuation, as needed.
Teacher Notes/Reflections