In this module, students build their literacy and science skills as they engage in a study of fossils. Students begin the module by participating in a close read-aloud of Stone Girl, Bone Girl by Laurence Anholt to explore the Unit 1 guiding questions: “What do paleontologists do?” and “How do characters respond to major events?” Students learn about Mary Anning and her role as a fossil hunter as they engage with key literature standards. Students focus on how Mary Anning responds to major events and challenges, and the overall structure of narratives through structured retells. In Unit 1, students are also introduced to the skill of answering selected response questions. Students also begin to learn about what fossils are and the work that paleontologists do. In Unit 2, students make a pivot to informational texts and engage more deeply in the study of fossils. Students’ learning is centered around the Unit 2 guiding questions: “What can we learn from studying fossils?” and “How do readers learn more about a topic from informational texts?”
Students begin the unit by engaging in a close read-aloud of various excerpts from the text Fossils by Ann O. Squire. Students then make the important transition of closely reading complex texts independently. Students are gradually introduced to close reading strategies as they read a few different nonfiction articles on fossils, such as how fossils can teach us about changes that have happened on Earth. In Unit 3, students take on the role of being authors as they work toward completing the performance task: adding detailed illustrations to a narrative produced during unit 3 about discovering a fossil. The unit begins with a focused read-aloud of The Big Dinosaur Dig by Esther Ripley. Through their analysis of the text, students begin to answer and unpack the Unit 3 guiding question: “How do authors write compelling narratives?” Students then imagine they are a character from this story and practice writing a narrative. The unit culminates as students write, revise, and illustrate their own narratives from the perspective of a paleontologist who has just discovered a fossil. This performance task centers on CCSS ELA SL.2.5.