President’s Day Biographies

by becky on February 17, 2013

Hi again! I don’t know about all you out there in Blog Land, but I’m personally excited for my three day weekend. Thank you Lincoln and Washington. : ) Since I am trying REALLY hard to stick to my monthly writing plans, I originally had biographies planned for February. Try as I might, my Autobiography unit is taking a little longer than planned, but I’m not at all bummed, because they are turning out to be AWESOME. My students “should” be finished this week sometime, so I’ll hopefully be able to share those plans and pictures with you soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share the plans I used with last year’s class for President’s Day. Once upon a time (in 2009), I purchased a biography lesson plan from my writing hero, Amanda. Then, it sat in a folder on my computer until last year, when I found it and decided to use it. I did tweak it some to fit my class’s needs, and they turned out to be one of the best writing activities my class last year completed.

First off, I decided that instead of just focusing on Washington and Lincoln, I’d incorporate a few more presidents. I was able to borrow a TON of biography books from my fifth grade teacher friend, and also from the school library. The students ended up being able to complete a biography report on George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln or Barack Obama. After they chose strips of paper with their president’s names on them, they got to work.

The first part of the writing activity is to read. And read, they did. I wish I had taken a picture, but basically, I laid about 30 books on my back table about all the presidents they were researching. As they would finish one book, they could put it back on my table and then pick up another one. I was worried I’d have to convince them to read more than one book, but luckily, the majority of the students appeared interested and looked forward to learning more about their chosen leader.

Then, as a whole class, we read The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown and I introduced the following anchor chart.

Then, they wrote their own version on sloppy copy paper. The picture above shows one of my student’s final copies of their “poem”.

Then, came the beef of the lesson. They were given time to write what they learned about their president with guiding questions such as “Describe their childhood. Did they experience any hardships throughout their life?”, “What are they known for accomplishing during their time as President?”  This particular part took the most time because I wanted to make sure they weren’t copy/pasting information that they read from the books. In all, I think they had 2 revisions before they wrote their final FINAL copy. Take a look:

On the back they glued their rubrics…

And, they glued a picture of their president on the front. :)

I would say this entire project took about two weeks during our Writing time. It was so great to see the class get excited to learn about these great leaders. If you are interested in having your class complete their own biography project, visit Amanda’s shop and buy one of her ready to use lesson plans. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the exact lesson on her site that I purchased back in 2009, but lucky for you, she has a bunch of new lessons available for purchase.)

Well, I’ve put off grocery shopping long enough… better go get some yogurt. Man, I really dislike grocery shopping. I’d rather cut the grass than wait in LONNNG lines at the store. sigh. lol, Til next time! Happy President’s Day!

 

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