Lesson plan

Jazzy Bio Poems

Integrate reading, writing, and social studies in this lesson about famous jazz musicians! This lesson would fit perfectly in a unit about biographies or Black History Month.
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Students will be able to write a bio poem describing a famous jazz musician.

(5 minutes)
  • Write the word "biography" on the board.
  • Ask students if they recognize any Greek roots in the word.
  • Circle the root word bio. Explain that bio means life.
  • Circle the root word graph. Explain that graph means to write.
  • Tell students the word biography means a written story about someone's life.
  • Tell students that today they will read a couple of biographies about some famous jazz musicians.
  • Ask students to share what they know about jazz music. What instruments are used in jazz? Where did jazz music become popular?
  • If desired, play a couple of samples of jazz music for students to listen to.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell students that today they will be writing something called "bio poems." Ask students if they've heard of these before.
  • Explain that students will first read a biography of a famous jazz musician. Then, taking their new knowledge about this famous figure, they will write a bio poem about them.
  • Show students the bio poem format. Remind students what adjectives are, and make sure students know what "resident" means.
(10 minutes)
  • Project the Thelonious Monk worksheet.
  • Read the biography aloud with students. Model how to find important and relevant information to be used for the poem. For example, when you read, "Monk was born in 1917 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina," point out that this is where he would be a resident of. Highlight or underline "Rocky Mount, North Carolina."
  • Once you have finished reading the biography, project the sample poem for the entire class to see.
  • Explain that for some lines of the poem, students will need to make an inference, or good guess using the text and their background knowledge. For example, we don't know what exactly Thelonious Monk feared because it doesn't tell us explicitly in the text. However, we can use what we read to make an inference about what he might have feared. This is where students can be creative!
(30 minutes)
  • Allow students to choose from the remaining four jazz musicians or simply pass out the remaining biographies to students.
  • Give students time to read their biographies and underline or highlight relevant information.
  • When students are ready, they should write their bio poem. Keep the format and sample poem available for students to refer to as they write their own poems.

Enrichment:

  • Students could complete another bio poem about a historical figure of their choice.
  • Ask them to write a paragraph about a Jazz Great. Have them make sure to mention some of the obstacles and accomplishments this person faced.

Support:

  • Pair students in groups to read the biography aloud to each other. They can alternate reading different paragraphs.
  • Check-in with these students when they are finished reading the biography and before they start the poem. Have students verbalize what they are going to write for each line, and offer assistance if they are having trouble with any part.
  • Allow students to read their poems aloud to partners.
(5 minutes)
  • Use the bio poems to determine students' comprehension of the text and their ability to convey the information in a written way.
(10 minutes)
  • Have students create groups with other students who each wrote bio poems about a different jazz musician.
  • Each student should share their bio poem with the group.
  • When each person has shared, have students discuss what were the fun and challenging aspects about writing the bio poems.

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