Better Biography Projects

Biographies: traditionally a multi-paragraph report that is either typed or handwritten.

But not every student shines in this type of format. Not every child is able to do their best work in writing.

It’s worth it to explore alternate biography projects.

Here are a few of my personal faves, with links to resources included!

Pictello

This is a visual story-teller that records audio. It has a ton of different uses, like creating visual schedules or teaching social or academic skills. But you can create visual and audio presentations, too.

Having personally used this, I know it is awesome (and this is NOT a sponsored post). I have used this with students who have limited verbal abilities to create amazing biography projects, and it was so gloriously easy! Yes, it will take a little more hands on time from the teaching team, depending on the ability of the student. But the projects created are beautiful, and can be super simple or very complicated.

Padlet

This is a brainstorming and collaboration app and website, but you can totally use it to create beautiful presentations, too. It’s great for timelines!

Essentially, your student can create little text boxes with all the info and just place them in the correct order. Plus, you can link to your sources, websites of interest, images, videos, and other multimedia.

Check out this sample Padlet I created on Madam C. J. Walker! It took just a few minutes to create, and I can modify it at any time. Do you think your students could design something like this? I bet that they can do even better!

Google Drive

Specifically, Google Slides. It’s like a traditional slide show presentation, but collaborative and sharable online.

Students can modify the background, add videos, images, and text. It’s super easy to move slides and text around.

I love this because students can share it directly to the teacher for editing and feedback. When I get Google Slides projects, I can go in and look at one slide at a time. I can leave comments, suggestions, and other feedback directly on the slides. Then, when I conference with the student(s), I can reference my notes, and students can respond to me either in the slides or verbally. It is an amazing tool to design instruction specifically for each child or group.

Head to Toe Bio

Head to Toe BioThis is a seriously cute one, and can be adapted for getting to know you activities at the beginning of the school year.

Use a long piece of paper and have the student lay down on the paper as you (or a peer) trace their outline. Try to make it gender neutral OR reflect the gender of the biography subject.

Inside the outline, the student can write, draw, or paste words and images related to their biographical subject. You can have them do this in a few ways: head to toe in chronological order OR match the life events to parts of the body.

If your student is matching to body parts, use the following placements:

  • Head: education
  • Torso/Heart: values, interests, passions, fun facts
  • Shoulders: birth and death
  • Face: image of the subject
  • Arms/Hands: spouse(s) and child(ren)
  • Legs/Feet: achievements (the legs to stand on)

Get your own copy of the project guide by clicking on the picture!

Puzzle Pieces

Using a DIY puzzle kit or a piece of heavy cardboard or paper, have the student draw a puzzle design on one side. On the other side, the student should draw or paste a picture of their person.

After the puzzle pieces have been cut out, the student should write one important fact or life event on each piece. The number of items to be written down should be decided BEFORE the puzzle shape is drawn.

During the presentation, or display, or however your projects will be evaluated, the puzzle can be put together, revealing the full picture of the subject’s life!

Want to try one of these? Do you have a better biography project idea? Share it in the comments!

~Meg

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