healthy.jpgUnit 6: Taking Care of Ourselves

In this sixth six-week unit of second grade, students will enjoy a wide range of reading and practice informative/explanatory writing while studying human body systems.
Examining still life paintings of food for detail, students describe what they see, and arrange and paint a still life of healthy snacks. Building on the painting experience in this unit and the bridge writing in Unit Three, students write informative/explanatory pieces. They read informational texts on body systems in the grade 2 to grade 3 reading range with fluency. As they discover a range of food-related titles, students independently read fiction and poetry, looking for an underlying message.
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Unit Overview/End of Unit Learning

Theme Essential Question
Why should we support our opinions with reasons?

Focus Standards for the Unit:
LAFS.2.RL.2.4: Describe how words and phrases (ex regular bests, alliteration, rhymes and repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem or song.
LAFS.2.RL.4.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2-3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
LAFS.2.SL.2.5 Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
LAFS.2.RI.3.8 Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text.
LAFS.2.RI.4.10 By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 2-3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
LAFS.2.W.1.1 Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic of book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section

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Suggested Objectives:

    • Write an informative/explanatory piece describing the experience of painting.
    • Use descriptive words (adjectives) to describe food they taste.
    • Consult a dictionary on the spelling of descriptive words.
    • Read to understand more on a specific topic (e.g., the systems of the body in a narrative informational text, The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body.)
    • Read texts independently and fluently in both literary and informative genres, on grade level and into the stretch 2 through 3 level of text.
    • Read books with a common theme (e.g., food) to explore the treatment of themes in literature.
    • Sing songs about a given topic, noting how the rhythm and rhyme of the music and lyrics might help understanding of the topic.
    • Use reference books to research a scientific topic (e.g., names of bones in the human body).
    • Write a paragraph with an introductory sentence, at least one supporting sentence, and a conclusion.
    • Write an opinion piece about a given topic (e.g., an important thing to do to stay healthy).
    • Use reflexive pronouns (e.g., myself, yourself, and ourselves) correctly.

Interdisciplinary Connections:

  • This unit teaches:
    • Art: seventeenth-century Dutch still life painting, William Bailey, Wayne Thiebaud
    • Science: Body systems (e.g., digestive, nervous, muscular, and skeletal)
    • Nutrition (e.g., foods to eat and healthy living)

    This unit could be extended to teach:
    • Science: Healthy living (e.g., teeth, safety, and environmental hazards)

Sample Activities:

Art, Informative Writing
After students have drawn an object from the still life (see Class Discussion/Art Appreciation activity in this section), extend the activity by writing. Give the students this prompt: “Write an explanatory how-to piece focused on how you created your painting. Include a description of your still life, the steps of setting up the display through creating your painting, and a strong conclusion.” (W.2.2)
Art, Class Discussion
Look at the Thiebaud versus the Bailey. How are the colors different? Are we looking at the objects from above, below, or straight on? Did the artists place the objects close together or far apart? Why do you think Bailey chose to space the objects in his painting asymmetrically, versus the symmetry of the Thiebaud? Introduce the Arcimboldo painting into the discussion. Continue to talk about color, perspective, symmetry, and detail and the many different ways in which artists choose to paint, even when they are all painting a still life. (SL.2.1, SL.2.2)
Have the students taste-test healthy snacks, fruits, and vegetables. Encourage them to use adjectives by challenging them to come up with at least three descriptive words between each new taste. For example, “This apple is tangy, sweet, and crunchy!” Encourage students to use a dictionary to check the spelling of the words as needed. (L.2.2e, L.2.5a)
Reading Literature, Speaking and Listening
Introduce the book Everybody Cooks Rice (Norah Dooley and Peter J. Thornton), which is about a girl who lives in an ethnically diverse neighborhood. She makes a very interesting discovery about her neighbors when she sees what each one is cooking. Read the book aloud. When you are finished, ask the children questions such as: “What do you think the author wanted you to learn in this book? What are the clues from the text that helped you come to that conclusion?” (RL.2.2)
Reading Informational Text, Research
Have students independently read informational books to learn about each body system. Students should record new learning about each of the body systems in a notebook. They should look for the ways the author supports the main idea. For example, when reading a book about nutrition, ask students to find reasons in the text for why a person should eat healthy foods. (RI.2.10, RI.2.8)
Reading Literature, Reading Fluency, Reading Comprehension
In order to stretch students’ reading skills and test for comprehension and fluency, have students read a variety of fictional texts independently. Although the books share the common theme of food, they have very different messages. For example, Tar Beach (Faith Ringgold), which includes a picnic scene, is literally about rising above prejudice. Gregory the Terrible Eater (Mitchell Sharmat, Jose Aruego, and Ariane Dewey) is a funny book about a goat, but carries a message about healthy eating. These books offer a range of reading in the 2 through 3 band of grade level and stretch texts. (RL.2.10, RL 2.2)
Music, Vocabulary
Explore text, rhythm, and rhyme in the song “Dry Bones.” Discuss how bones are connected in the song. It’s fun, though not necessarily accurate (e.g., the “toe bone” is not connected directly to the “heel bone”). Then have the students research the scientific names of the bones. Assign each pair of students one of the bones in the song to research online or in an encyclopedia. They should be sure to find out how the bones are actually attached and note the real names for each of the bones mentioned. For example, the twenty-six bones in the foot and the toes are actually called “phalanges.” Extend this activity to the stretch level by having the students sing the song with the scientific names. (RL.2.4, RI.2.7)
Opinion Writing, Language Usage
Ask the students to choose one thing that they think is most important to do in order to stay healthy. Tell them to support their opinions with facts that they learned from one of the books they read. Remind them to stay on topic, include details, use appropriate linking words between ideas, and provide a strong conclusion. (W.2.1)
Language Usage, Vocabulary
The title of this unit is Taking Care of Ourselves. Ask students what other words they know that end with –self or –selves. (Possible answers: myself, himself, herself, themselves, yourself, and yourselves.) Practice using these special kinds of pronouns in sentences: “I can do it .” “She climbed the monkey bars by _.” “They went to the playground by _.” (L.2.1c, SL.2.6)
Reading Literature, Speaking and Listening, Research
Introduce the book The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body (Joanna Cole). Remind the students that this book is a fantasy but contains information that is true. Use this book to introduce the body systems for the informational side of this unit: skeletal, muscular, digestive, and nervous systems. Begin a chart for each of the body systems to add content learning from other read-aloud and student-read books. Students can post information from their own reading on a chart by using index cards or sticky notes. (RI.2.4)
Art, Speaking and Listening
Introduce the genre of still life to the students. As students view the paintings, talk about the details, objects, and positions of objects that they notice. Closely examine the works by Heda and Claesz. Explain that these artists did “high-definition” work almost two hundred years before photography was invented. They called it trompe l’oeil, which is French for “deceive the eye.” Students should notice how these paintings are “realer than real.” Put cut fruit, a basket, or metalware on the table and have students try to draw one of the objects precisely. (SL.2.1, SL.2.2)
Speaking and Listening
Why do our brains need good food? To begin this unit, students will need to think about the relationship between good food and brain function—how to nurture a healthy body. Encourage the students to look at the figurative meaning of the term good food. (SL.2.1)

Online Resources:

Sample Literacy Block
Reading Workshop
Familiar Reading (15 min)
Word Study (30 min)
Read Aloud (15 min)
Reading Workshop (1 hour)
Book Talk (5 min)
Mini-Lesson (10 min)
Independent Reading-Guided Reading-Independent Research (40 min)
Sharing-Reflection-Feedback (5 min)
Writing Workshop
Writers Talk/Mini-Lesson-Status of the Class (10 min)
Independent Writing/Guided Writing/Investigations (45 min)
Sharing/Reflection/Feedback (5-10 min)

Explanatory writing
Opinion Writing
Reflexive Pronouns