George W. Carver Biography Novel Unit

Grade Levels
5th, 6th, 7th, 8th
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This is the book my students still talk about years later. George Washington Carver- Heroes of History by Janet & Geoff Benge. Although it is nonfiction, it is a high interest narrative style biography that draws the students into the story. Students feel like they are reading/listening to fiction, but are actually learning about a remarkable man who changed our world. Students are drawn to the kind-hearted, intelligent and humble George and root for him throughout the story. I have lost count of the number of students who cried when he died (95% Caucasian).

Book Informaton-

George's mother panicked when she heard the thunder of horses and the whooping of men. Bushwhackers! She pulled her baby close to her chest and stood rooted to the dirt floor in fear. A man stumbled through her doorway. "We got us one, boys!" he yelled, waving his rifle in the air and dragging his captives into the cold night.

Once a kidnapped slave baby, George Washington Carver found freedom in learning everything he could about the world around him. Overcoming poverty and racism, George became a brilliant scientist and a gifted professor who dedicated his expertise to helping black farmers escape the devastating grip of poverty.

George's scientific creativity knew no limits. His ingenious experimentation with peanuts and other plants helped rescue the failing Southern economy. Still remembered for his far-reaching and diverse achievements, Dr. Carver generously shared his talent simply for the reward of helping others (1864?-1943).

Heroes of History is a unique biography series that brings the shaping of history to life with the remarkable true stories of fascinating men and women who changed the course of history.

The stories of Heroes of History are told in an engaging narrative format, where related history, geography, government, and science topics come to life and make a lasting impression. This is a premier biography line for the entire family. Pages: 192 (paperback) Ages: 10+

Although my package is not pretty, it is everything you need to teach the biography. Just purchase one copy of the novel and/or audio book and get started.

My first goal in teaching this novel was to teach students how to listen, take notes, and summarize their own work. By the end of the book, students can quickly write at least a full-page summary of a chapter within 15 minutes. Students also learn and analyze images, documents, and articles that supplement the novel. The topics include: slavery, lynchings, Emmitt Till, and The Homestead Act of 1862. Wouldn’t it be nice to pair your non-fiction texts with an interesting and exciting novel? Since I couldn’t find any lesson plans or assessments for a biography, I have written and organized questions, quizzes and tests for this unit. I also needed notes for the lower learners and have included them in the unit as well.

I have taught this book to 4th graders along with 7th graders for numerous years and it is my favorite novel to teach.

Depending on your speed, class discussion, and the number of supplementary lessons that you include, this novel study will take approximately 6 weeks. The younger the class, the longer the summaries take to write. The bundle includes:

• 56 pages of handwritten teacher notes covering each chapter- taken directly from when I read each chapter aloud. - Great for differentiation and IEP students.
• 16+ pages of actual student notes also taken from when I read each chapter aloud.
• 60+ samples of student summaries- Including work from high, average and low students.
• 14 pages of comprehension questions and answers for each chapter- I use these as bell work.
• 2 short answer quizzes along with answer keys (Common Core aligned). Chapters 1-4 and 5-7
• 4 short answer/ multiple choice tests with answer keys (Common Core aligned). Chapters 1-6/ Chapters 1-9/ Final Test option 1/ Final Test option 2.
• 23 pages of Thinking Maps- Templates along with pictures of actual student thinking maps to go with various chapters.
• PPT with 10 important GWC quotes – used as Bell Work- Students explain what the quote means.
• 172 vocabulary list (definitions not provided) with chapter and page numbers.
• Supplementary add-on lessons links to pair with the novel. No assessments provided for this work. -PPT, newspaper articles, primary document analyzing templates etc.

How do I teach this material? I actually read the entire novel to the students. I stop and teach the students what notes to take. I often put my copy of the book under the document camera so the students can see my thinking as I read. They quickly figure out what is and isn’t important. The best part of the class is that we have great discussions that can take up the whole class if I allow it.

Once the chapter is read, students write a minimum one page summary. The next day, students are given the comprehension quick check bell work. We quickly go over the answers and then move on to reading random student summaries. Students love having their summaries read out loud and improve the quality of their work in case it is read out loud the next time. Reading the summaries is a great review. We then move on to the next chapter. Every few days, the class does an individual Thinking Map, or a group poster Thinking Map for the hallway. Students put all their work into a 3 prong folder for a keepsake.

The book can be purchased from YWAM Publishing
Book $7.50
Audiobook $16.49
Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 Month

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George W. Carver Biography Novel Unit
George W. Carver Biography Novel Unit
George W. Carver Biography Novel Unit