App Smashing Biography Research
My 2nd grade students did some biography research this spring. The first challenge was to find biographies they could actually read. While we had enough books for each of the students, I wish we had had a larger selection as some of my kids would have preferred reading about a famous athlete over an inventor, for example. Still, even though some of the students had never heard of the person they ended up researching, by the time the projects were finished, all students seemed to really know their subjects well.
My learning goals were for students to:
- read nonfiction text for information
- retrieve information from an online encyclopedia and a print resource about a person of their choice
- record their research in an organizer
- use the information to create a “12-Sentences Biography Script”
- create a digital product orally presenting their script
Students spent most of their time reading the books and taking notes in an organizer. Since we just received a subscription to the Worldbook Online database, we also took some time to explore this tool and students added hand-written notes to their organizers.
Writing 12 Sentence Biography Scripts
During the research process, we talked a lot about taking notes in one’s own words. I am a big fan of Nancy Polette’s Research Without Copying (Expanded 3rd ed.). In this brief, spiral-bound book, she compiled a number of engaging activities that motivate students to think critically rather than simply reporting facts without giving much thought to the meaning. One of the activities is a “12 Sentence Biography Report,” which I adapted for my 2nd graders.
App Smashing the Final Product
For the final project, students drew a likeness of the person they researched using the Hello Color Pencil app for iPad. Armed with a stylus pen, they created some really fantastic digital art. The artwork was saved to the Photos app before importing it into the Chatterpix app. Students love using Chatterpix as it allows them to animate images. Unfortunately, each audio recording is limited to 30 seconds, requiring most of my students to record two or even three separate audio clips. We saved each clip to the Photos app and then combined them in iMovie.
The final products turned out great!