A Biography "Egg"stravaganza March 02 2010

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Where I teach, we are required to collect work samples for each student in each subject area. We keep the best ones in each subject, entering scores into the district's system based on the State Scoring Guide. 

To make this process a little less labor-intensive, I'm always looking for projects that encompass more than one subject area as well as provide more than one work sample. The Biography "Egg"stravaganza is a three pronged project that involves reading Biographies, writing a report, and giving an oral presentation.

Because it's Spring and eggs are front and center anyway, including eggs in this project makes it more fun - especially when it's time for the presentations!

Reading Biographies

First and foremost, kids need to read about someone that they're actually interested in, if at all possible. If you can combine that with curriculum you need to cover - like famous Presidents - even better! TRC has a collection biographies in two sets - the 20 Book Rookie Biographies and the 40 Book Rookie Biographies. They also come in four smaller sets. George Washington is also quite popular, we've found, so we have the George Washington Rookie Biography and George Washington biography by Welcome Books.

Regardless of the reading material used, your students are going to need to take notes since this is assignment is fact-oriented. I created a Biography Note Sheet for students to use to document basic, important and unusual facts and details about their person. You will, if you haven't already, need to teach a lesson or two about how to take notes and avoid copying facts straight out of the book.

Writing A Paragraph or Report

What your students write depends on their level, so I created two resources to help. If your kids are younger, they can use this Biography Paragraph Worksheet to practice putting their facts into sentences, and then their sentences into one paragraph. If they aren't ready to write a paragraph yet, consider having them create an illustrated booklet with a sentence on each page accompanied by an original illustration.

Older kids, however, will be ready for writing an essay about their person. I have created two graphic organizers for this purpose: the Biography Graphic Organizer for Students and the Biography Graphic Organizer for Teachers. The student's graphic organizer is blank for them to fill in, but the one for teacher's has suggestions on what should go in each paragraph as well as hints for minilessons you may need; for example, your students may need a refresher on writing a first sentence that will hook their audience! Then students can use their graphic organizers to polish their paragraphs and create an essay about their person.

Presenting the Egg!

This part of the project can be done at home or in the classroom, it depends on your preference! Each student must have an egg that is no longer in danger of making a yolky mess everywhere; the eggs need to be hardboiled, or poke a tiny hole in the top and bottom of the egg with a needle and blow out the insides.

Each student must decorate his or her egg to look like the person they read and wrote about. These eggs need to have defining characteristics that can include hair, clothes, and a face drawn in with permanent marker. To display the eggs, have students use a toilet paper tube cut in half. Tissue or cotton can be stuffed in the tube to make a more comfortable seat for the egg. On the day of the Biography Speeches, each student presents their Biographical Eggs to the class, along with information about their important person. 

This is always a fun project, and by the end of it I have for each student a scored writing worksample, a scored speaking worksample, and I've had a chance to do some reading assessment too!