PBL Icon

Project-based Learning

Creativity Icon

Creativity

DS Icon

Digital Storytelling

21st Century Icon

21st Century Classrooms

Literacy Icon

Literacy

ELA Icon

Language Acquisition

STEM Icon

STEM

Teaching Icon

Teaching and Learning

Language Arts Icon

Language Arts

Math Icon

Math

Science Icon

Science

Social Studies Icon

Social Studies

Professional Learning Icon

Professional Learning

Rubric Maker Icon

Rubric Maker

Graphic Organizer Maker Icon

Graphic Organizer Maker

PBL Icon

Project-based Learning

Creativity Icon

Creativity

DS Icon

Digital Storytelling

21st Century Icon

21st Century Classrooms

Literacy Icon

Literacy

ELA Icon

English Language Acquisition

STEM Icon

STEM

Teaching Icon

Teaching and Learning

Language Arts Icon

Language Arts

Math Icon

Math

Science Icon

Science

Social Studies Icon

Social Studies

Professional Learning Icon

Professional Learning

Pics4Learning Icon

Pics4Learning

Rubric Maker Icon

Rubric Maker

Graphic Organizer Icon

Graphic Organizer Maker

Video Biographies

Students will complete research on a historical figure and create a video biography of that person.

App: Frames™

Video Biographies

Authentic Task

Many students are familiar with Ken Burns’ groundbreaking documentaries. While many students dread writing biographies, ask them to transform their writing into a compelling digital documentary about a person’s life to motivate them to practice this type of informational/expository writing.

Engage

Introduce your students to biographies by reading a few of them first. Jerry Spinelli’s Knots in My Yo-Yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid or Daniel Dyer’s Jack London: A Biography provide insight into an author’s background and help students learn how personal experiences affect a writer’s voice.

Discuss the factors that make a good biography. A great biography is also a great story, and while a biography needs to include facts, a simple listing of them may not be compelling. Have students brainstorm questions they can ask to make a biography more interesting. You might prompt their thinking with questions like:

Let your student's know that they will be writing biographies and then transforming them into digital documentaries. Provide a list of people for students to choose from or have your class brainstorm a list. You could focus on presidents, famous people from your state, inventors, or authors.

Have students select a person and complete research on this person and the time period in which he or she lived.

Rather than focusing on famous people, consider tasking students with creating short feature films about local community heroes or even family members.

When their research is complete, work through your normal biography writing process. Depending on student writing ability, you may want to give them an outline for what information should be included in each paragraph of the biography.

When a first draft is complete, have students pair with another student to edit and revise their rough draft before publishing a final draft.

Create

Form small teams students who have studied the same person or are interested in making a video of a particular person.

Have the teams review each team member’s biography, highlighting the parts that they like the most. The team should then work together to create an outline of their ideas and begin developing a storyboard.

Teams should now determine roles for completing their video biography> For example, you might want to assign roles and/or tasks such as:

Depending on time, have team members not building or editing the final vidoe develop marketing materials about their biographical film.

Share

Have the teams share the video biographies with the rest of the class, at a school assembly, or even on local access television station.

Assessment

Make sure to evaluate the rough draft of the biography and the productivity of the team discussions before you assess the final biography. You will also want to evaluate the process the team uses to identify topics and well-written sections of the initial biographies as they write their screenplay. The screenplay serves as another tangible example of understanding and skill, as does the storyboard of the screenplay.

Create your own rubric for free at rubric-maker.com

The video biography will serve as the culminating project and summative assessment. You may also want to assess team work, responsibility, organization, and problem solving.

Resources

Jerry Spinelli, Knots in My Yo-Yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid. ISBN: 0679887911

Daniel Dyer, Jack London: A Biography ISBN: 0590222171

Denis Ledoux, The Photo Scribe - A Writing Guide: How to Write the Stories Behind Your Photographs ISBN: 0961937343

Writer's Workshop: Biography

Standards

NCSS– Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

Individual Development and Identity– Personal identity is shaped by one’s culture, by groups, and by institutional influences.

Examination of various forms of human behavior enhances understanding of the relationships among social norms and emerging personal identities, the social processes that influence identity formation, and the ethical principles underlying individual action.

Common Core Anchor Standards for English Language Arts - Grade 4-12

Writing Standards

Text Types and Purposes

3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing

4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others

Research to Build and Present Knowledge

7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

ISTE: NETS for Students

2. Communication and Collaboration

Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students:

a. interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.

b. communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.

Advertisement
Building Literacy in Elementary
Advertisement
Frames
Advertisement
Legends and Tall Tales

Lesson: Legends and Tall Tales

Wixie on a stack of Chromebooks
Getting Chromebooks?
Stay creative with Wixie!
Advertisement
Advertisement
Digital Storytelling.

Digital storytelling across the curriculum

Book trailers

Lesson: Book Trailers

Student project

Connecting students to history

More sites to help you find success in your classroom

Rubric Maker

Rubric Maker

Create custom rubrics for your classroom.

Graphic Organizer Maker

Graphic Organizer Maker

Create custom graphic organizers for your classroom.

Building Literacy Guide

Pics4Learning

A curated, copyright-friendly image library that is safe and free for education.

Topics

Creativity

Digital Storytelling

21st Century Classrooms

Project-based Learning

Teaching and Learning

Curriculum

Literacy

English Language Aquisition

STEM

Lessons

Language Arts

Math

Science

Social Studies

Creative Educator

Professional Learning

About Us

Tech4Learning