Third graders have started an ambitious biography project. Working with a partner, they chose a biography of a famous person from a selection of books I had put together. I chose books with interesting people that were a good reading level for our third graders. Biography subjects included Amelia Earhart, Jane Goodall, Jacques Cousteau, George Washington Carver, Neil Armstrong and others. Students found a quiet spot in the library to read their book with their partner. They were given a graphic organizer to record important events from the person's life as well as challenges the person had to overcome. They were also asked to identify characters traits and give examples from the book of traits they identified. It was impressive to see students apply themselves to this project. I enjoyed hearing their insights as they read about their famous people.
We kicked off this project by reading a book by Suzanne Slade called The Inventor's Secret. It traced the lives of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. The way the author presented the story of their lives, the students immediately picked up on the similarities between these two men born 16 years apart. Both love to tinker and invent things from the time they were young. Edison had a great deal of success. Ford, trying to perfect an automobile that was both affordable and roomy enough for a family, ran into problem after problem. Finally he decided to seek out Edison's advice. When the two men finally met, Henry Ford related the struggles he had been having creating an engine, Thomas Edison leaned forward, pounded the table and said, "Don't give up." Students loved this message of persistence. The two inventors became friends for life, another aspect the kids enjoyed.
As our project progresses, students will be gathering additional information about their biographical subject from an online source and creating a Power Point presentation to share what they have learned.
Every year I speak with students about what it means to be a good digital citizen. We discuss ideas for staying safe on the internet, always being respectful with our communications, and regulating screen time. We talk about the fact that you cannot trust all the information on the internet. If students come across unsafe or inappropriate behavior online they are advised to let a grown up know. It is reassuring to hear how many parents have had conversations with their children about these issues and how many parents monitor their children's online activity.
Here is a Padlet where fourth graders have posted what kinds of technology they use regularly. After our discussion about being a good digital citizen they have posted their ideas about using technology safely.