BUILDING BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE: HOW SCIENTISTS COMMUNICATE ABOUT THE LIVING THINGS OF THE RAINFOREST
In this first unit, students will explore the question: “What is unique about living things in the rainforest?” Students will begin by building background knowledge about unique living things in the rainforests and the scientists that study them. Students will also explore various forms of informational text as ways to communicate about rainforest scientists’ research. Students examine two types of informational texts, an interview and an article, for specific elements and how those elements inform the reader. During those close reads, students will also build their background knowledge about rainforests of the Western Hemisphere through a focus on vocabulary and finding the main idea. The mid-unit assessment will gauge students’ mastery of comprehending an interview as an informational text by answering text-dependent questions for a given new and unfamiliar interview of a scientist doing work in the rainforest. Students will continue to gain knowledge about living things in the rainforest and apply the skills learned to explore one more type of informational text, a video, in order to continue to develop an understanding of the biodiversity of the rainforest. Through further close reads, an introduction to notetaking, synthesis, and comparisons of these informational texts, students will begin to formulate an opinion on what types of informational texts, based on their specific features, made it easiest for them to learn about rainforests and why. Finally, the on-demand end of unit assessment will measure students’ ability to comprehend an unfamiliar informational text on rainforest biodiversity as well as write an opinion paragraph that states which text they consider most helpful based on its features and why.