I adapted the unit and trimmed it down. The district curriculum has the students exploring the character traits and obstacles of the biography subjects as well as how the time and place played a role in the person's life. I dropped the time and place element and had the students focus on the character traits and obstacles. The students also determined why the person made a difference. The process was a bit rushed and a bit messy, but it was also beautiful and rich. (All the projects are below!)
In groups of four and five established by the classroom teachers, the students chose and read a biography from a preselected collection.
I decided to see how spare the students could be in synthesizing the biography. Could they do it in seventeen syllables? The students the used the Haiku template from ReadWriteThink. They brainstormed keywords about their person and then crafted a Haiku poem that captured the essence of their person - the person's personality traits, accomplishments, or obstacles that he or she had to overcome.
I reviewed the project expectations and modeled creating an Animoto movie.
The groups evaluated and edited their Haiku poems. After approval from me, they used Animoto to bring create a visual and musical presentation of their Haiku. Like their work on the personality beverages, the students understood that the goal was to find a theme, images and music that supported the text of their Haiku as well as what they knew about their person.
As I said, it was a bit rushed, but I am proud of the work these fourth graders created. Hare are people who made a difference, in seventeen syllables:
John Appleseed Chapman
Henry Box Brown
Juliette Gordon Low
Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Mercy Otis Warren
Booker T. Washington
Bob and Joe Switzer