Non-fiction

English Year 4 Autumn Biographies

Inventors

Discuss inventions. Imagine the future using Was it Better Now? Explore biography (Genius of Leonardo) study verbs, perfect form, adverbs; write an autobiography.

We recommend that you start with the core unit, the heart of this English block of study. This introduces key textual material and sets the tone for any further units you wish to teach. These can be selected on the basis of the needs of your class – look at the green icons to identify the unit’s particular focus: SPAG, Composition or Comprehension. Whichever units you choose, we suggest teaching them in order, as there is a built-in progression indicated by the numbering.

‘UNIT PLAN’ gives you a text version of all parts of the unit to use in your school planning documentation. ‘DOWNLOAD ALL FILES’ gives you that unit plan plus all of the associated documents.

Core
Unit 1 Core: Inventions and inventors’ biographies
(suggested as 4 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
-- Listen and respond appropriately to adults and peers.
-- Articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions.
-- Maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations.
-- Use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating and hypothesising.
-- Consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others.

Word Reading
-- Read further exception words, noting the unusual correspondences between spelling and sound, and where these occur in the word.

Comprehension
-- Read texts structured in different ways and read for a range of
purposes.

 


-- Identify main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph.
-- Check that the text makes sense to them, discussing their understanding and explaining the meaning of words in context.
-- Ask questions to improve their understanding of a text.
-- Draw inferences such as inferring characters’ feelings, thoughts, motives from their actions, justifying inferences with evidence.
-- Retrieve and record information from non-fiction.
-- Participate in discussions, taking turns and listening to what others say.

Transcription
None for this unit

Composition
None for this unit

Grammar
None for this unit

You Will Need

Preparation
It would be good to have children look at different non-fiction texts on Inventions and Inventors. In particular Three Cheers for Inventors by Marcia Williams would be an excellent start.


Essential Resources
Biography of Ole Kirk Christiansen (Lego) (see resources)
Biography of Percy Shaw (Cat's Eyes) (see resources)

Websites
Was it Better Now? Animated Tale from wrht.org.uk

Presentations
Resource PowerPoint: Technology and Science Breakthroughs of the 2000s

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Define and discuss the term ‘invention’, as an original device or process. (Discoveries are different: they already existed in nature when someone discovered them for the first time.) List examples of inventions, asking children to look for more examples in the classroom.
Activity
All: In small groups children read ‘List of some of the Main Inventions 1900-1990’ (see resources). They discuss what people used to do before the items were invented. Medium/Hard: Children then discuss and debate which inventions are best, creating a top 5 in pairs or individually.

Day 2 Teaching
Share Hamilton animated tale, Was it Better Now? (see resources), discussing the story and the point the story is making. Can children answer the question posed in the title? In pairs, children write questions about the story and give to other pairs to try answering.
Activity
All: Reread and answer questions about Was It Better Now? Mon Arrives and Mon goes to school (see resources). Medium/Hard: Then answer questions about Fred in the Future (see resources).

Day 3 Teaching
Display PowerPoint: Recent Inventions (see resources) and discuss. Stop at the Countdown. Introduce the term ‘criteria’ and discuss how we can create a list of criteria to help us decide how useful an invention is compared to others and rank them.
Activity
In small groups, children cut up the list of recent inventions into strips (see resources). They agree their criteria for ranking the inventions and arrange the strips in order of importance, discussing the order using their agreed criteria.

Day 4 Teaching
Remind children of Day 3’s discussion about the most useful invention and how compromise was needed to reach agreement. Define the term ‘biography’. Discuss the need to be selective when choosing what to include in a biography. Criteria help to make these decisions.
Activity
Children read biographies of Ole Kirk Christiansen (Lego inventor) and Percy Shaw (Cat’s Eyes inventor) (see resources). They then use the prompt sheet questions (see resources) to discuss and evaluate the biographies.

SPAG
Unit 2 SPAG: Verb tenses, incl. perfect form, using biographies of Leonardo Da Vinci
(suggested as 4 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
None for this unit

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
-- Read books that are structured in different ways and read for a range of purposes.
-- Identify how language structure and presentation contribute to meaning.

Transcription
None for this unit

 

Composition
-- Compose and rehearse sentences, progressively building a range of sentence structures.

Grammar
-- Identify verbs and understand the concept of tense..
-- Identify past tense, and the progressive form: present and past continuous tense
-- Use the present perfect form of verbs in contrast to the past tense.

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Introduce The Genius of Leonardo Da Vinci, noting that he was an inventor. Share book to the top of spread 7 and make notes of facts discovered so far. Use the PowerPoint: Verbs and Tense, slides 1 to 6 to revise verbs and simple present and past forms.
Activity
Easy: In pairs, children add missing verbs to sentences using the Missing Verbs sheet (see resources). They re-write each sentence in the past tense.
Medium/Hard: In pairs, children add missing verbs and then re-write in the present tense. They find synonyms for common verbs.

Day 2 Teaching
Continue to read The Genius of Leonardo to the top of spread 13 and discuss why he is often called ‘the greatest inventor of all time’. Share PowerPoint: Verbs Tense (see resources) up to and including Slide 10, checking children’s understanding of progressive form.
Activity
Children change simple present or past tense verbs to progressive form (see resources). They then write a paragraph about Leonardo. Challenge them to use three examples of the progressive form of past tense in their paragraph.

Day 3 Teaching
Share PowerPoint: Verbs Tense (see resources) slides 11-17, children completing the exercises. Share The Genius of Leonardo from page 13 to the end. What did children think of this biography? Agree that biographies are written in the past tense. Explain the concept of a ‘potted biography’.

Activity
Easy: Children edit a given potted biography where the verbs are missing (see resources).
Medium/Hard: Children rewrite the potted biography, changing some verbs into the past perfect (red)/present perfect (blue) (see resources). Challenge children to add a couple of sentences of their own to the biography.

Day 4 Teaching
Skim through Animated Tale: Was it Better Now? Revise tense using PowerPoint: Revision of tense (see resources). Use enlarged version of Searching for verbs (see resources) to identify verbs and the tense used.
Activity
Using differentiated resources, Find the Verbs 1/2, children identify verbs used in a text. Challenge more able to specify whether the examples of the perfect form that they find are present perfect or past perfect. Support least able to identify verbs.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Verbs and Tense PowerPoint
Explore simple past and present forms, present and past continuous (progressive) and perfect forms (present and past) of verbs.

Revision of Tense PowerPont
Revise simple, progressive and perfect forms of verbs.

Comprehension
Unit 3 Comprehension: Study a specific biography: Leonard da Vinci
(suggested as 2 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
-- Articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions.
-- Maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations.

Word Reading
-- Apply growing knowledge of etymology and morphology.

Comprehension
-- Read for a range of purposes.
-- Retrieve and record information from non-fiction texts.
-- Identify themes and purposes of different texts.
-- Check that a text makes sense, discuss their understanding and explain the meaning of words in context.
-- Ask questions to improve understanding of a text.

 


-- Draw inferences and justify inferences with evidence.
-- Identify main ideas from more than one paragraph.
-- Participate in discussion, taking turns and listening to others.

Transcription
None for this unit

Composition
None for this unit

Grammar
None for this unit

You Will Need

Preparation
It would be good to have children look at an online, and preferably animated, biography of Leonardo.

Websites
Leonardo Da Vinci biography from www.YouTube.com
Leonardo Da Vinci simple biography from www.ducksters.com


Texts
The Genius of Leonardo da Vinci by Guido Visconti and Bimbo Landmann
Leonardo da Vinci; Little Guides to Great Lives by Isabel Thomas

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
If you have not taught Unit 2, read The Genius of Leonardo Da Vinci together. If you have, briefly remind children of key events, flicking through the pages. Compare this biography with those read in Unit 1 (Lego & Cat’s Eyes) and Leonardo da Vinci; Little Guides to Great Lives.
Activity
Children read and discuss two biographical accounts of an event in Da Vinci’s life. Children make notes on the sheet provided (see resources).

Day 2 Teaching
Read pages 28-32 of Leonardo da Vinci; Little Guides to Great Lives. Discuss da Vinci’s many interests and achievements. Which do children think is most important?
Activity
In ability pairs, children read the biographical text, Vitruvian man (see resources).
Easy Group: Do Comprehension questions, set 1
Medium/Hard: Do Comprehension questions, set 2

SPAG
Unit 4 SPAG: Identify/use verbs, adverbs and adverbials in the context of Inventions
(suggested as 3 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
-- Use spoken language to develop understanding through exploring ideas.
-- Articulate and justify answers.
-- Ask relevant questions to extend understanding/knowledge.

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
-- Read books that are structured.

 

Transcription
None for this unit

Composition
-- Discuss and record ideas.
-- Compose/rehearse sentences, progressively building a range of sentence structures.

Grammar
-- Identify verbs.
-- Use adverbs to express time or cause.
-- Use fronted adverbials.

You Will Need

Preparation
The Marcia Williams book is one where children need time to read it on their own. They love to browse it in pairs. Ideally you want 2 or 3 copies in your classroom. You need to enlarge some pages (see resources).


Texts
Three Cheers for Inventors by Marcia Williams.

Optional Texts
Leonardo da Vinci for Kids, His Life and Ideas by Janis Herbert

Presentations
SPAG PowerPoint: Adverbials for biographies

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Show Three Cheers for Inventors. Discuss reasons for dedication to Leonardo. Share a few pages then read pp. 24-6, discussing importance of first powered flight. Use PowerPoint: Adverbials: Biographies to revise verbs and teach how adverbial explain when, where and how. Share adverb list (resources) and discuss fronted adverbials.
Activity
EASY/MEDIUM: Children work with a partner to add missing adverbs to sentences using the Missing Adverbs 1 (see resources). They then identify adverbials.
MEDIUM/HARD: Children work individually to replace missing adverbs and adverbials using Missing Adverbs 2 (see resources).

Day 2 Teaching
Share Three Cheers for Inventors pp.10-11. Discuss what book children would have printed first. Discuss inventions on pp.18-19. Which do children think are particularly useful? Use PowerPoint: Adverbials: Biographies to revise Day 1’s teaching and then use slides 9-11 to explore prepositions.
Activity
Children add missing adverbials to given sentences and then then write their own humorous sentences about inventors, adding adverbials to give information about when, where or how.
EASY/MEDIUM: Children work with an adult on Using Adverbials 1 (see resources).
MEDIUM/HARD: Children work in pairs on Using Adverbials 2 (see resources).

Day 3 Teaching
Share Extra Loud Cheer for Women Inventors, discussing several inventions. In talk partners, children discuss the Woman Inventor Cards (see resources), choosing their most important. Take a vote. Use PowerPoint: Adverbials: Biographies to revise slides 9-11 and then teach punctuation of fronted adverbials (12-16).
Activity
Using the Fronted Adverbials and Others sheet (see resources), children identify adverbials and adverbs in a biography text. Led by the sheet, children go on to write a response to the text, using fronted adverbials in each sentence.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Adverbials for Biographies PowerPoint
Teach adverbials for time, place and manner, noting how they often begin with a preposition. Show how fronted adverbials are punctuated with a comma.

Composition
Unit 5 Composition: Biographies of inventors
(suggested as 5 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
-- Listen/respond appropriately to peers;.
-- Ask relevant questions to extend knowledge.
-- Articulate & justify answers, arguments, opinions.
-- Maintain attention and participate in collaborative conversations.
-- Use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating and hypothesising.
-- Participate in discussions and debates.
-- Consider and evaluate different viewpoints attending to and building on contributions of others.
-- Participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic, responding to ideas.

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
-- Read texts structured in different ways and read for a range of purposes.
-- Retrieve and record information from non-fiction.
-- Participate in discussions, taking turns, listening to what others say.

Transcription
None for this unit

 

Composition
-- Discuss writing similar to that which they are planning to write in order to understand and learn from its structure and vocabulary.
-- Discuss and recording ideas.
-- Organise paragraphs around a theme.
-- Compose and rehearse sentences orally, building a rich and varied vocabulary.
-- Assess the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing and suggest improvements.
-- Propose changes to grammar and vocabulary to improve their work.
-- Proof read for spelling and punctuation errors.

Grammar
-- Use the present perfect form of verbs as well as simple past tense.
-- Use adverbials to add detail to writing, including fronted adverbials.
-- Use commas after fronted adverbials.
-- Use appropriate and correct punctuation as laid out in English Appendix 2.

You Will Need

Essential texts
Three Cheers for Inventors by Marcia William
The Genius of Leonardo da Vinci by Guido Visconti and Bimbo Landmann

Preparation
If possible bring in an old fashioned telephone – the older the better. It should have a dial – show children how we used to use the dial instead of a keypad.
On Day 2 you will need a ‘standard’ biography of Leonardo to contrast with ‘The Genius of Leonardo’. It could be an online biography, e.g. Leonardo biography from www.ducksters.com.
For Days 3, 4 and 5, it will really help if children have watched The Wrong Trousers, by Nick Park.


Presentations
SPAG PowerPoint: Grammar Revision

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Look at different inventions using Marcia Williams’ Three Cheers for Inventors. Use a BBC clip to stimulate discussion about the qualities of an inventor.
Activity
Children imagine new inventions and discuss what these could be. They listen to others and share own ideas. Finally they describe a new invention orally, then write a short description.

Day 2 Teaching
Look again at Three Cheers for Inventors at the part on Leonardo. Then read a timeline of Leonardo’s life and discuss how this forms a type of brief, factual biography.
Activity
Children imagine a future in which they have created the invention described yesterday. They create a timeline biography of their life so far and project it into the imagined future.

Day 3 Teaching
Watch a clip from The Wrong Trousers by Nick Park. Look at The Genius of Leonardo. This biography was written from the point of view of his assistant. This gives it a personal flavour. Read a timeline of Nick Park’s life and discuss the key events.
Activity
Children use a Planning Grid to plan a biography of Nick Park written from the point of view of his (imaginary) dog. They read a short conventional biography, and use this to plan their own.

Day 4 Teaching
Watch a clip from A Grand Day Out by Nick Park. Today children will start to write their biography using their planning grids from yesterday. Revise the grammar taught in this Block: Perfect form and Adverbials.
Activity
Children use their completed Planning Grids to start writing their biographies of Nick Parks from the point of view of his (imaginary) dog. Challenge children to use at least one example of perfect form and to add detail using adverbials.

Day 5 Teaching
Discuss how children can improve their writing, looking at some examples of their biographies so far. Remind children that they need to use one example of the perfect form, and several adverbials to add description and detail. Discuss proof reading.
Activity
Children read their work so far to a partner and correct any mistakes, making improvements as they go. They then complete their biography and proof read it.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Grammar Revision PowerPoint
Revise simple past tense and also the perfect form of the past tense. Also revise the use of adverbials to add description and detail.