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April 28, 2013

Mentor Text(s) - Social Studies - Civil War

Social Studies is my FAVORITE subject to teach, so I am beyond excited to to link up with Amanda and Stacia this week to share my mentor texts.

In Texas, 4th graders learn Texas History. Even though, I'm originally from Kansas, I have learned a LOT about it over the past 20 years.

We are currently studying the Civil War. Last week, we read two stories about slavery and the war.



Now Let Me Fly by Dolores Johnson is one of the mentor texts included the Comprehension Tool Kit by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis. It is a chilling account of a slave family's journey from capture in Western Africa to a plantation in Georgia. Students were shocked and appalled by Minna's story of tragedy and loss. 

The lesson in the tool kit focuses on note taking using the "FQR" (Facts/Questions/Responses) strategy. Rather than copy the chart from the kit or make my own, I had students burrito fold a piece of copy paper. Always fun! By now, only a few students still need help. Those who can do it, love to help those who can't. Only one did it vertically this time. 

Their questions and responses were both inquisitive and thoughtful! 

The next day, I read Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco to them. It is a beautiful story of an unlikely friendship between Say, a young boy from Ohio, and Pink, a former slave fighting for the Union. The kids loved that it was a true story passed down from generation to generation. As I read, they completed a Venn diagram comparing the main characters. 

There are many text-to-text connections that can be made between the two stories. We discussed them, but I think the next time I read these two stories, I will have the students record them.

Now you can follow me on Facebook, too!
Looking forward to reading about all the other Social Studies mentor texts! 


  1. Love, love, love this lesson! I'm pinning it. Thanks for sharing. :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  2. What an awesome lesson! I so miss teaching Texas History!

    Teaching With Moxie

    1. You know it is one of the only reasons I agree to keep teaching Language Arts year after year. :)

  3. Adore Pink & Say, but I have not read the other--will have to get ahold of that one... Thanks so much for sharing!

    All the best--
    Sarah @ Hoots N' Hollers

  4. Now Let me Fly is a new book for me. Looking forward to checking it out!

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  5. Love your student samples. Now I get a glance at what my kindergartners will do in their futures! I will have to check out Now Let Me Fly.

    Learning With Mrs. Brinn

    1. I spent some time in the Kinder hallway this week. Y'all (Kinder teachers) amaze me! It is awesome to see where they start. We sometimes lose perspective if we stay in our own grade level hallways.

  6. I will be checking out those books to use next February during Black History Month - thanks for the suggestions.

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  7. Thank you for the great books suggestions and lesson ideas! I'll be pinning this one for next year!
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  8. These look like great books for the Civil War. I love Patricia Polacco! She is one of my favorite authors! I love Stephanie Harvey and FQR! We user that often!

    Thanks so much for linking up these great books with your lesson!!
    Collaboration Cuties