Lesson plan

A Biography of Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison was the first African American female astronaut to enter space! Use this lesson plan to help your students get to know this prominent scientist, and determine what makes her an influencial person.
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Mae Jemison was the first African American female astronaut to enter space! Use this lesson plan to help your students get to know this prominent scientist, and determine what makes her an influencial person.

Students will be able to read a biography about Mae Jemison and discuss her influence in the United States.

(5 minutes)
  • Ask your students: "Why do we remember people even after years have gone by?" Conduct a discussion where you jot some of their ideas down on the board.
  • Show photos of Mae Jemison in space using the photo link in the materials section.
  • Ask students who they think is in the picture and what they know about Mae. Jot some of their ideas on the board.
  • Explain that Mae Jemison is an influential person. An influential person is a person whose actions and opinions strongly influence the course of events or other people's ideas.
  • Ask students to name some influential people in their lives. They do not have to be famous people to be influential!
  • Tell students they will learn more about the first African American female astronaut to enter into space and how she is an influential person by reading a biography and answering questions about it.
(10 minutes)
  • Remind students that a biography is a detailed outline of someone's life that usually includes dates and significant events in the person's life. Most of the time, influential people have overcome obstacles, or a problem or challenge that stands in the way and needs to be overcome in order to meet a goal.
  • Summarize some information about Mae Jemison. Tell students that Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to enter space. She is a doctor, researcher, and dancer. After becoming a doctor, she joined the Peace Corps and served in Africa. Later, she joined NASA and became a crew member of the space shuttle Endeavour. After her travels in space, she left NASA to start companies and continue researching how to get to a new star.
  • Display the The Star, Mae Jemison worksheet and ask students to detail some of the text features and text structure in the biography (headings, pictures, dates, chronological order).
  • Remind students that sometimes the text features and structure can give details about important information and obstacles the person faced.
(7 minutes)
  • Display the Graphic Organizer: Research an Influential Person. Review the questions with the class.
  • Model completing the organizer with details from a familiar person to your students, like the principal or someone in the community.
(20 minutes)
  • Have students complete the Graphic Organizer: Research an Influential Person after reading the text in The Star, Mae Jemison worksheet.
  • As a class, review the answers to the questions. Especially focus on the questions about Mae's obstacles and achievements.

Support

  • Allow struggling readers to use the worksheet Introducing Mae Jemison, the Star for their research article.
  • Have students work in small groups to choral read the text. They can also draw a picture of the main ideas after every heading they read.

Enrichment

  • Ask students to complete the Two Truths and One Lie: Biography Edition using their research from The Star, Mae Jemison and another online resource from the Related Media section.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students to complete the questions for the The Star, Mae Jemison worksheet.
  • Allow students to review their answers with partners after they have finished writing them down.
(8 minutes)
  • Refer back to ideas about Mae from the beginning of the lesson. Which were correct and which need a correction?
  • Circle back to the question from the introduction section: "Why do we remember people even after years have gone by?" Review students' answers and see if they would put Mae into the "remember after years have gone by" category.
  • Choose volunteers to discuss why Mae is an influential person. Some ideas may vary, so allow them to share their ideas while also encouraging them to cite evidence from the text or an online source.
  • Ask students who completed the Two Truths and One Lie: Biography Edition to share their paragraphs about Mae Jemison, if time allows.

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