Leadership Past and Present

Social Studies

Grade Two


Overview Of Unit


            The second grade unit entitled “Biographies:  Leadership Past and Present” is intended to be completed during the third marking period.  The second grade social studies curriculum was revised in 2001.  Second grade teachers are now beginning to feel comfortable with the unit.  Montgomery County Public Schools revised their Reading/Language Arts curriculum in 2002.  They created a non-fiction genre study that included a mini-unit on biographies.  The goal of both units is to read and write to inform.

            The Social Studies department in Montgomery County Public Schools has created a curriculum framework of “structure and change” to help focus the social studies curriculum.  The entire social studies curriculum taught in MCPS is organized around the study of existing structures of human organization and how those structures change over time.  The purpose of “Biographies:  Leadership Past and Present” is to teach students that individuals can influence the outcome of events, that people from all different backgrounds can be leaders, and that there are certain characteristics that leaders demonstrate.

            The Reading/Writing/Language Arts department in MCPS recognizes that understanding different genres enhances readers’ background knowledge about text.  This helps readers anticipate and comprehend text.  Biographies are a nonfiction genre that are often written in narrative form.  Biographies tell a story and are written in a sequence. 

            The second grade team leader at Laytonsville and I decided to connect these two different units into one cohesive unit that meets the objectives of both.  Connecting these two units is a relatively easy task.  Along with reading/language arts and social studies objectives, we choose to incorporate information literacy skills (library media objectives) into this unit. 

            I met with the second grade team leader to collaborate on ways to connect these two units.  I expressed my desire to incorporate the information literacy skills that make up the library media objectives.  At our initial meeting we reviewed the objectives for each unit.  We listed all of the objectives for each unit and an outline of activities that we would use to meet the objectives.  We took some of the activities from the social studies curriculum, some from the reading/language arts curriculum, and some from the information literacy curriculum.  When our outline was completed, we decided which of us would be responsible for each of the activities.  We also determined which activities would be completed in the classroom and which activities would be completed in the media center and/or computer lab.

            The unit will begin in the media center.  I will provide an overview of the genre of biographies and an explanation of the final project.  At this time I will begin to model note taking strategies on the form the students will be using for their research.  The next activity will also take place in the media center.  I will “book talk” some of the biographies that are available for the students to read.  Students will then be allowed to choose their biographies and begin to read and take notes.  At this time the teacher will make some modifications to allow for differentiation.  She will monitor the student’s choices and make partners if she feels it is necessary.  The students will spend the next several sessions in their classroom reading and taking notes.  When they return to the media center, I will model how to take the information they have collected on their note-taking form and write an informational paragraph that tells why their person is famous.  The students will begin writing their paragraphs.  In their classroom/computer lab they will finish writing their rough drafts; revise, edit, and proofread their draft; and type a final draft using KidPix.  The classroom teacher will facilitate this aspect of the unit.  The students will then return to the media center where I will model how to choose the dates that best describe their famous person.  I will model how to use the dates to create a biographical timeline.  The students would be given time in the media center and if necessary in the classroom to complete their timelines.  Our next activity will take place in the computer lab.  I will model how to use Timeliner to publish the timeline I created.  I will also model how to add a title to the timeline and how to import a photograph of their famous person.  I will locate photographs and store them in a Handout file on the computers so the students will not have to search for appropriate photos.  The classroom teacher will complete the final activity.  She will have the students share their paragraphs and timelines.  The student’s projects will be used to create a definition of a leader.



Biographies:  Leadership Past and Present

Unit Plan, Grade Two


Stage 1:  Desired Results

Enduring Understandings

  • History is the story of inevitable and unpredictable change.  However, many individuals have been able to influence the outcome of events and lead people to adapt to change.  These significant individuals represent all types of people and backgrounds, yet share the common characteristics of leadership.
  • Readers monitor their thinking and understanding by asking questions and making connections between what they know and important information in the text.
  • Effective use of information is essential for understanding and communicating ideas.
  • Characteristics of a biography can be used to identify the characteristics of a leader.

Essential Questions


  • What are the characteristics of an effective leader?
  • What are the characteristics of a biography?
  • How does asking questions help me to locate information?
  • How does using a graphic organizer to take notes help me interact with information successfully?
  • Which events in a person’s life are significant or influential?
  • What characteristics or events make a person famous?


  • Apply the concept of time by placing key events in the life of influential individuals in chronological order.
  • Interpret and apply information about the lives of influential individuals by reading and asking questions.
  • Use a graphic organizer to record appropriate/significant information about a chosen person.
  • Read a biography on an appropriate reading level.
  • Extract appropriate and significance information from text.


Stage 2:  Assessment Evidence

Students will be assessed through teacher observations/checklists and through task specific rubrics.


  • Participation:  informal teacher/media specialist observations

                             completed note-taking form that shows an understanding of the important  

                             characteristics of a leader

  • Paragraph:  Writing to Inform rubric
  • Timeline:    teacher checklist
  • Presentation:  Oral Presentation Rubric


Through this unit, students will receive a writing grade, a speaking grade, a social studies grade, and a work/studies grade.  These grades will be used when averaging grades for report cards.


Stage 3:  Learning Activities

  • Instruction for this unit will take place during the assigned media center time and computer lab time, as well as classroom social studies instructional time.

Session 1:  (30 minutes – media center time)

F     Introduction to biographies (Power Point presentation)

F     Present an overview of the unit to the students.  Share an example of the final projects.

F     Brainstorm topics to include on our notes.

F     Begin modeling how to take notes/record facts on the note-taking form.

Session 2:  (30 minutes – media center time)

F     Review session one.

F     “Book Talk” some of the biography books the students will be able to choose from.

F     Students will choose a biography that they would like to read (classroom teacher will help guide choices as necessary).

F     Students will begin reading and taking notes.

Session 3:  (30 minutes – social studies instructional time)

              Additional time may be required to complete the research.

F     Students will finish reading their biographies and complete their note-taking form.

F     Classroom teacher will evaluate the “completeness” of the notes.

Session 4:  (30 minutes – media center time)

F     Media specialist will model how to take research and turn it into an informational paragraph.

F     Students and teachers will go over the Writing to Inform rubric that will be used to evaluate the student’s work.

F     Students will begin writing a rough draft.

Session 5:  (30 minute – social studies time)

F     Students will complete their rough drafts.

F     Students will revise, edit, and proofread their rough drafts.

F     Classroom teacher will proofread the students drafts.

Session 6:  (25 minutes – computer lab time)

F     Students will type a final draft using KidPix.

F     Students will use the drawing feature on KidPix to illustrate their paragraphs.

Session 7:  (45 minutes – media center time)

F     An example of a completed timeline will be shown to the students.

F     The media specialist will again use the note-taking form and model how to choose important dates from their famous person’s life.

F     Students will create a timeline for their famous person on paper.

Session 8:  (60 minutes – computer lab time)

F     The media specialist will model how to use Timeliner to publish their biographical timeline.

F     The media specialist will model how to add a title to their timeline and how to import a photograph and paste it onto their timeline.

F     Students will complete their timelines.

Session 9:  (30 minutes – social studies time)

F     Students will share their final projects.

F     The classroom teacher and students will generate a definition of a leader.



Teacher Resources

Biography PowerPoint

Biographies Note Taking Form

Oral Presentation Rubric

Writing To Inform Rubric

Paragraph Guide