Biography research projects can engage your entire class. Just use the Goldilocks principle. In other words, the process shouldn’t be too easy or too hard. Instead, it should be just right. Take a peek at this simple 1-2-3 method of differentiation.
Ms. Sneed Plans Biography Research
“I’d like to plan a biography research project for February,” Ms. Sneed told her student teacher, Mr. Grow.
“Since it’s Black History Month, why don’t we focus on African Americans,” he replied.
Page #1 – Basic Biography Research
“Good idea. That will go great with our other biography activities. Now let’s see, what should they learn about each person?”
“Well,” said Mr. Grow, “I guess they should get some background information first. Like, for example, where the person was born, information about their family, that kind of thing.”
“Yes, and of course, we’ll want them to pinpoint their major contributions next.”
Ms. Sneed sat down at her computer and began to type.
“This is good basic information. Every student should find these things. Let’s use this page for everyone. But most kids can do more. So what else?”
Page #2 – Intermediate Biography Research
“Hmm, how about the challenges the person faced?” asked Mr. Grow.
“That’s perfect,” responded Ms. Sneed. Her fingers pecked away at the keyboard.
Page #3 – Advanced Biography Research
For their advanced learners, the pair decided to add one more page. “Let’s dig deeper,” said Ms. Sneed. “I’ve always thought that history played a big part in determining a person’s path in life.” She quickly typed up a third page. It asked kids to explain how history changed events in the person’s life, as well as how the person changed history.
“For this page, our advanced learners will need to know about events during the person’s life. Let’s give them a double timeline to take notes.”
The 1-2-3 Method
Ms. Sneed and Mr. Grow found an easy way to differentiate research. First, they identified three groups of students in their class. Second, they matched each student with the number of pages he or she could handle. That way, the research project was appropriate for everyone.
This strategy can be used for almost any type of research project. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
Add more great activities to your biography lesson plans! Your students will love creating biography crafts and culminating with a wax museum project. Furthermore, they will make you enjoy teaching even more.