by Nancy Polette
Meet forty amazing American men (20 in each book) who have used their talents to make unique contributions to American life. From presidents to scientists, from musicians to men of letters, each has developed his gifts to the fullest. In doing so, each has found his place in history. Each man is introduced with a short play in which four students take the roles of the host or hostess and the three men all claiming to be the same famous American. Through critical listening, the audience will be able to identify the one who is telling the truth. The pretenders either include a historical fact in their speech that could not possibly be true or they contradict themselves in a later speech. Each script is followed by a short reader response or research activity.
The performance format is ideal for all readers. The struggling reader is not overwhelmed by a full page of print he or she must decipher. Instead, the reader reads her part and then can prepare for the next speech while others are reading their parts. The competent reader benefits from the performance format by realizing the importance of slowing down and reading with expression. Many competent readers use the machine-gun approach to oral reading, falsely believing that rapid reading is desirable. The research reporting models in after each short play allow students to blend factual information and creativity to develop a finished product in which they can take pride. Models and research activities are based on specific Common Core Standards for Informational Text, History and Social Studies for grades four through eight.