- Graded Readings from American History
52 People Who Made A Difference
by: Michael Ryall
Bio-Sketches for Reading, Telling, Listening, Writing, and Research
Levels: Grade 4 to Adult.
E.S.L. : Beginning to Intermediat
This versatile book may be used in a variety of ways. The 52 bio-sketches
have a two-page format. The first page has an illustration and a brief
biography of the person. The back of the page has a timeline placing the
person's life within the context of events and other people in American
The pages are perforated for easy removal from the book. Or the pages
can be left in the book, and it can be used as a reader.
There are 13 groups of legendary people, each group represented by four
people who made a mark in some aspect of life.
- folk heroes
- Civil War / Anti-Slavery Heroes
- Native Americans
- inventors / scientists
- educators / reformers
- human rights leaders
- business / labor leaders
- military leaders / heroes
- sports heroes
In each group of four there are four levels of challenge. For example,
in the Sports Heroes group, Roberto Clemente's biography is about 100
words long; Wilma Rudolph, 150 words; Bruce Lee, 200 words, and Duke
Kahanamoku, 250 words. In other words, the biographies can be used by
learners at various proficiency levels.
Use the bios as a reader. Have the students read the 13 easiest
biographies (100 word-level). Then they move on to the 150 word bios,
and so forth. As the students read, each bio is, of course, different, but
words and phrases naturally recycle: "She was born in ... She decided ...
She became a ... She died."
Use the bios for practicing speaking and listening. Each student gets a
different legend. They study the bio-sketch. They find a partner and tell
each other about their legend. Or they can role play: "I am Cesar Chavez.
Who are you?" They look at the timelines and discuss their legends and the
times they lived in.
Two CDs are available for listening practice.
At the bottom of the timeline, there is an internet address for further