Fourth Grade Unit: Notable Texans

Stephen Austin statue

Overview / Research Scenario

  • Note: The ELA curriculum requires persuasive writing for this unit.


    In this unit students will research the life of a notable Texian/Texan/Tejano and write a letter to Texas Monthly magazine persuading them to: 1) include the person in the Notable Texians/Texans/Tejanos hall of fame, OR 2) name this individual “person of the year” for a specific year in Texas history. 

    Notable Texans Listed

    The notable Texians/Texans/Tejanos suggested in the unit are listed in the Social Studies TEKS and/or there are sufficient resources available about the person’s life for students to explore. Other individuals who are not listed in the unit can be researched if there are enough authoritative resources to support students’ exploration.

    Critical Thinking & Biography Research

    Research projects should require students to use higher-order thinking skills in order to create new knowledge. Students need to go beyond simple fact finding. Jamie McKenzie’s approach to biography research (via Biography Maker) promotes critical thinking. Use this website to gain a better understanding of the types of questions that will promote a higher level of student thinking.

    Texas Monthly Information

    When introducing the idea of a Hall of Fame for Texas Monthly magazine, this link to magazine covers may be useful:

TEKS Objectives Addressed

  • Process Objectives:

    ELAR TEKS/Student expectations:

    4.23(A) generate research topics from personal interests or by brainstorming with others, narrow to one topic, and formulate open-ended questions about the major research topic

    4.23(B) generate a research plan for gathering relevant information (e.g., surveys, interviews, encyclopedias) about the major research question

    4.24(A) follow the research plan to collect information from multiple sources of information both oral and written, including (i) student-initiated surveys, on-site inspections, and interviews; (ii) data from experts, reference texts, and online searches; (iii)visual sources of information (e.g., maps, timelines, graphs) where appropriate;

    4.24(B) use skimming and scanning techniques to identify data by looking at text features (e.g., bold print, italics);

    4.25(A) improve the focus of research as a result of consulting expert sources (e.g., reference librarians and local experts on the topic).

    4.26(A) draw conclusions through a brief written explanation and create a works-cited page from notes, including the author, title, publisher, and publication year for each source used.

    4.19 Students write persuasive texts to influence the attitudes of a specific audience or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. Students are expected to write persuasive essays for appropriate audiences that establish a position and use supporting details

    Content Objectives:

    Social Studies TEKS/Student expectations:

    4.2(E) identify the accomplishments and explain the economic motivations and impact of significant empresarios, including Stephen F. Austin and Martín de León, on the settlement of Texas.

    4.3(B) summarize the significant contributions of individuals such as Texians William B. Travis, James Bowie, David Crockett, George Childress, and Sidney Sherman; Tejanos Juan Antonio Padilla, Carlos Espalier, Juan N. Seguín, Plácido Benavides, and José Francisco Ruiz; Mexicans Antonio López de Santa Anna and Vicente Filisola; and noncombatants Susanna Dickinson and Enrique Esparza.

    4.3(C) identify leaders important to the founding of Texas as a republic and state, including José Antonio Navarro, Sam Houston, Mirabeau Lamar, and Anson Jones.

    4.5(C) identify the accomplishments of notable individuals such as John Tower, Scott Joplin, Audie Murphy, Cleto Rodríguez, Stanley Marcus, Bessie Coleman, Raul A. Gonzalez Jr., and other local notable individuals.

    4.17(D) identify the importance of historical figures and important individuals who modeled active participation in the democratic process such as Sam Houston, Barbara Jordan, Lorenzo de Zavala, Ann Richards, Sam Rayburn, Henry B. González, James A. Baker III, Wallace Jefferson, and other local individuals.