Biography: Profiles in Greatness

04/28/2000
Activity Overview: 

After a discussion about role models and their characteristics, students select a living role model, research his/her life, then prepare ten or more divergent interview questions. ClarisWorks is used to type the interviews and answers, and both are then sent to the person studied. A HyperStudio card is developed with a scanned image of the role model along with one question and the answer, which illustrates the characteristics of a good role model.

PURPOSE:
Students study the lives of eminent people/creative producers to identify characteristics of achievers. These leaders may serve as role models, provide insights into decision making, enhance student self-esteem through an understanding of challenges faced by others, and provide opportunities for students to better understand how to apply their abilities by learning how others have done so.

DESCRIPTION:
After a discussion about role models and their characteristics, students select a living role model, research his/her life, then prepare ten or more divergent interview questions.  ClarisWorks is used to type the interviews and answers, and both are then sent to the person studied.  A HyperStudio card is developed with a scanned image of the role model along with one question and the answer, which illustrates the characteristics of a good role model.

ACTIVITIES:
(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the following activities/standards will appear in the video clips used.)

Preparation:
Locate Web sites with biography information
Locate software containing biographical data

Procedures:

Curriculum Standards from http://www.intime/uni.edu/model/cont.html 

 

National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Performance Indicators from http://cnets.iste.orgz/profiles.htm

Students view and discuss a video on biography such as "Uncommon Americans" from A&E Biography.

Social Studies IV:
Middle Grades: d, f

Grades 3-5: 8

Students browse Web sites to become familiar with role models they might choose to study.

Social Studies IV:
Middle Grades: d, f

Grades 3-5: 7

 Students select a living person who possesses the qualities and characteristics of a good role model.

Social Studies I: Early Grades: b

Social Studies IV: Middle Grades: d, f

 

Students do research using the Internet, CD-Roms, print, and non print material.  Notes are taken and students must document their sources.

Information Literacy: 1, 2, 6

Grades 3-5: 4, 7, 8, 9, 10

After research is completed, students use pair-shares to talk about what it's like to be their chosen role model.

Social Studies IV: Middle Grades: d, f

 

Students write ten divergent questions using analysis, synthesis or evaluation and answer them.  These questions are prepared using ClarisWorks, and a project cover is designed.

English Language Arts: 7

Grades 3-5: 1, 4, 5

The completed interviews are mailed to the role models with a letter explaining the project.

English Language Arts: 5

Grades 3-5: 5

The class together creates a HyperStudio program. A card for every person studied is created and includes a scanned photo and a selected question or answer which best exemplifies the characteristics of a good role model

English Language Arts: 8

Grades 3-5: 5

TOOLS & RESOURCES:
.Software:
ClarisWorks. Apple. Available: http://www.apple.com

HyperStudio. HyperStudio Available:
http://www.hyperstudio.com

Hardware:
At least one multimedia computer, a scanner, and access to additional computers linked to the Internet, either in the classroom or the school media center are needed for this unit.  There were three computers linked to the Internet in my room and one computer was located next door in the media center.

Web sites:
Biography.com

A database of over 20,000 personalities from the past and present. Available: http://www.biography.com

Biographical Dictionary

A dictionary with more than 27,000 notable men and women who have shaped our world.  It also includes links to other biography-related Web sites. Available: http://s9.com/biography/

MYHERO.com

Provides categories of achievers with excellent questions and further links. Available: http://myhero.com/home.asp

ASSESSMENT:
Biography - Profile in Greatness Assessment Rubric

CREDITS:  
Carol Boyce,  Kittrell Elementary, Waterloo, Iowa cboyce81@hotmail.com 

TIMELINE & COURSE OUTLINE:
The unit takes approximately two months when meeting weekly with students. Students reenacted introductory activities from the unit for the video, including a review of Bloom’s Taxonomy and convergent and divergent questioning skills.  Since most research and the writing of questions have been completed, some work on ClarisWorks, CD’s and Internet research were also reenacted.  However, creating a card on HyperStudio and scanning a photo were new activities.

COMMENTS:
Using technology in the study of biography has generated a great deal of excitement and promoted active involvement through critical thinking and decision making.  Through research students have had to analyze and interpret data, not just write a report.  Sending the interview to the eminent person added further interest and enthusiasm.  The HyperStudio program on role models allowed students to integrate their research in a meaningful way, and they were able to share their research with classmates and parents.  I was impressed with my students’ willingness to work on this project outside class. Their reaction has inspired me to examine other units for methods to integrate technology.

Technology Resources:
I chose these particular technology resources because I wanted to take advantage of the recent availability of the Internet in my school.  The Internet and CD’s borrowed from our Area Education Agency were able to supplement materials available in our media center. Typing the interviews helped strengthen my students’ word processing and keyboarding skills. HyperStudio provided an opportunity for my students to share what they had learned with an audience.  I had more than one computer available in my room, which made it much easier for students to work on different technology tasks throughout the unit.

School Background Information:
The population of Waterloo, Iowa is 66,000 people. Parents are employed in both manufacturing occupations, such as John Deere or Bertch Cabinets, as well as professional occupations. The enrollment of the Waterloo Community School District as of October, 2001, was 10,311 students.  Thirty one percent of the student population is minority students, and approximately 9% have limited English proficiency.

Teaching Strategy:
I chose this teaching strategy to promote critical thinking skills through research. My students are identified as gifted and talented by our district, and they had learned Bloom’s Taxonomy earlier in the year.  A component of our program for gifted students is biography study.  I found this unit to be a perfect blend of technology and the application of higher order thinking skills for gifted learners.


Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model Components Highlighted in the video:
http://www.intime.uni.edu/modelimage.html
(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the elements from the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model that are described below will appear in the video clips used.)

Principles of Learning: 
Direct Experience
The learning environment for this unit was designed to allow students to understand and analyze characteristics of achievers on a broad scale.  Activities were selected to further develop an individual understanding of components needed to accomplish life's goals.

Active Involvement 
Rather than have students read and report on a biography written by an author, students were able to transform information through writing and answering interview questions.  Careful selection of higher level interview questions allowed students to create their own meaning.

Tenets of Democracy
Critical Thinking and Decision Making
Students utilized Critical Thinking and Decision Making in the selection of persons to research.  They compared their selections with each other, and they predicted how their role model would answer the interview questions.  Students used inference skills when they selected one interview question and answer for the HyperStudio program which best represented the person studied.

Student Characteristics: 
My students are identified by our district as gifted and talented students.  These students are capable of learning content at a more rapid pace and are able to synthesize research to create unique products.  Previous units on Bloom's Taxonomy and creative thinking prepared them for tasks required in this unit.  

School Background Information:
The population of Waterloo, Iowa is 66,000. 
Parents are employed in both manufacturing, such as John Deere or Bertch Cabinets, as well as professional occupations. The enrollment of the Waterloo Community School District as of October, 2001 was 10,311. 
Thirty one percent of the student population are minority students, and approximately 9% are students of limited English.

Evolution of the Activity: 
This unit has evolved from a "dry" and sometimes tedious unit where students often used outdated print sources to a technology-rich series of lessons employing the higher levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

(Learning activity format adapted from National Educational Technology Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum & Technology http://cnets.iste.org/students)