My favorite thing to do is have each child interview a classmate and then write a biography about that person. They work on it in class but keep it TOP SECRET!!! Then we wrap them and have a "party" to present the books to the person. That is the quietest moments ever after they open them. Everyone is thrilled to read the book about themselves. I usually have them ask about 10 questions then they write a little on each page and illustrate each page.
I read them a biography and we do this character ID graphic organizer together.
We also read Helen Keller by Margaret Davidson together as a class book. The students write a reading response describing Helen's life. They write another one as well about what they learned from this biography after completing the 10 chapter book. The AR test is also taken for a grade. Then they do the graphic organizer again about Helen.
After reading and discussing many different biogrphies, you could have students interview and write a biography about a family member. Brainstorm who they want to interview and write about, then have them come up with about 15 questions for that person. After interviewing them, they bring their responses back and begin a rough draft - during which they may discover they need to ask some follow-up questions! After they have finished their final draft, I have them create an illustration of the person they interviewed. Then, they write a thank you letter to the person, and include a copy of the biography & illustration. The family member loves getting that!
We had a lot of fun with this. Each student chose a person and book. They had certain things they needed to find out about the person. I cut out a person shape out of craft foam. Students prepared an oral presentation (they also could dress as the person). They dressed the foam person as their person (these were very cute). After the reports were given - I had a timeline in the hallway and the students placed their person on the timeline. It really turned out to be an awesome project.
During our biography unit, students choose one particular famous American to research. They then create a costume and we have a "Living Wax Museum" for parents to visit. I put a round sticker on their hand and as visitors come through and mash their button (sticker), they stand up, come to life, and tell about who they are. It's really cute and the students really get into it.
It really doesn't take that much class time. I get the librarian involved. The students goes to the library and gets a biography to use to complete their research. They read the biography and then pull the most important information about them. I explain that they do not want it to be super long because they have to say it so much. It's along these lines.....
Hello my name is......
I was born on.......
I am most remembered for.....
I died on.........
The most remembered for part will vary. I just explain to them that they will want to tell why this person was famous, what was most important about them. They create their costumes at home and parent are normally really helpful.
My grade level does a biography unit after we read "Rocks In His Head". Afterwards, the students will read a biography from our library and they have to write a book report on what they learned. The students then have to create a "Fold-a-person" to resemble who they read their books on.
***Directions for fold-a-person***
Fold giant construction paper in 16ths.
Cut off two parts on each side of the bottom (one on top of the other)
Fold in upper tow parts on each side to form a coat (the pieces left over from being cut)
Glue cut off pieces at an angle to form arms.
Turn down collar on coat and cut between legs
Form another piece of paper cut a circle for a head.
Glue on head and decorate figure
Put writing inside coat. (we do like main idea of story, authors purpose, etc.