Monday, April 16, 2012

Historically Scrappin'

One of my all time favorite Social Studies writing projects I do each year with my class is the Biography Scrapbooks.  Each year, students in my class choose one person they would like to read a biography on and create a scrapbook of their life.  I don't allow any duplicates within the class and the only requirement is that they have to pick someone who has contributed to society in some shape or form.  We talk about how different careers can contribute in different ways - from singers, artists, scientists, athletes...the list goes on and on.  Many times, they pick someone from the past who is long gone but sometimes they choose someone who is current and hip (this year I had someone do Selena Gomez and highlight her ambassador work with UNICEF).

After reading the book they chose, students continue doing research on that particular person filling in the Famous Person Report Outline that I provide them. This outline is very simple and to the point and instructs students on everything that they need to have in their report.  Once they have completed the outline, they begin working on the creative part - creating a scrapbook!  I usually have this part completed at home but always schedule time for research during school.

Now with the finished product I have done a couple different things.  For a couple years at another school I taught at, the entire fifth grade did a Wax Museum (there were five fifth grade classes - each did the written project different but we all participated in the Wax Museum).  Students were given a piece of butcher paper that was five feet long.  On the paper they had to write (in very large print) three clues about who their person was without giving the name of their famous person.  Below the clues, they drew a portrait of their chosen person too.  Finally, at the bottom of the paper they wrote the name of their famous person and covered it up with a flap of construction paper.  During the actual Wax Museum these pieces of butcher paper were hung up and down the hallways and the students dressed as their famous person and stood like wax figures in front of their papers for 10 minutes.  During that time, guests walked around the Wax Museum trying to guess who everyone was.  They were able to check if they were correct by lifting the flap of paper in the corner.  When time was up, guests were also invited back into the classroom for refreshments and to look at the scrapbooks that the students created.  At my new school, I no longer do the Wax Museum due to space and time. However, the scrapbooks are displayed during Parent/Teacher Conferences so that parents who are waiting for their time can browse through them.

Edmodo Evaluations
This year, I took the scrapbook project a step further by implementing an Edmodo component to it.  Each student in my class had to do a peer evaluation of their classmates' scrapbooks.  I have sixteen students, so each student's scrapbook was reviewed four times each.  After reading their classmate's work, students submitted a review on Edmodo for the scrapbook.  They had to write a paragraph keeping the following questions in mind: 
  • What did you enjoyed about their scrapbook?
  • What questions did you had after reading it?
  • What do you think they could have improved upon (constructive criticism only which we discussed as a class)

 After everyone was done evaluating each others' work, they had to go back and respond individually to each review their scrapbook received.  My students enjoyed both parts of this and I found that even my most reluctant writers has great reviews!

What is your favorite Social Studies project you do with your class?

If you are interested, my Biography Scrapbook Project is available on my TpT store - check it out.  And while there, be sure to check out all the freebies I have available too!


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