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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Dynamic Signature Biography Project Continues

For years our fifth graders have been engaging in a dynamic biography project. Each year the teachers in charge add to the project to make it richer. This year, my wonderful colleagues Ms. Candini and Ms. Mattson, continued to enrich this project, and as I interacted with the students throughout the project work and presentation in a number of ways, I noticed so many reasons why this project is a keeper:
  • Students choose a global changemaker that "speaks to them" and one that they are interested in.
  • Students read and research all about the individual they choose to study.
  • Students use video, books, Internet research, visits to local museums, and more to research the individual.
  • Students learn to write with voice.
  • Students essentially gain a "historical mentor" as they study and write about the individual's life experiences including struggles, relationships, and choices.
  • Students write a mock interview with the individual that prompts students to see the character from at least two perspectives including that of the interviewer and that of the global changemaker. This essentially represents a past and present points of view too. 
  • Students use the writing process to reach final copy.
  • Students create a Google drawing graphic representation of the individual's life including multiple main points. This representation includes a QR code that connects to the longer written "interview."
  • Students rehearse acting in character with classmates.
  • Classmates learn about multiple famous people in history as they rehearse with each other, edit each others' work, and present.
  • Students get a visual view of history by lining up in the gym in chronological order. The visual difference in clothing and accessories is striking.
  • Students further learn about and portray the global changemakers as family members, educators, administrators, and students from other grade levels attend the event, ask questions (questions outlined in a sheet of paper they receive as they enter the performance area (gym), and listen to more information that visitors share from their own experiences and study.
This is the type of project that embeds multiple common core standards in a rich, engaging, empowering, and academic ways. Below you can view the pictures of student presentations as well as read a couple of examples from students' written reports. One addition we might want to think about in the future is to invite local senior citizens to attend the event as their perspectives, experiences, and conversation will lend greater depth to the final presentation as well as student learning.

Every child made a digital poster using Google Draw of their individual. They included a QR quote that connects to their written report. 


Every child included a title page with a quote. Then they dressed up as the global changemaker and acted in character.

This is an example of a student question and answer.