American Heroes Biography Project

This idea was submitted by Mary Hahn, who retired last month after forty-one years in the teaching profession. Many of my best ideas in the past three years have come from her classroom and we’re not even at the same school. Thank you, Mary!

This project has worked very successfully in my classroom to get students to complete research on a famous American and create a fun and visually appealing project.

Students conduct research on a famous person of their choosing. I align this with the 2nd grade courage unit but you can align it with other units at different grade levels as well, friendship, risks and consequences, etc… I complete it in class so that I can assist students but it can be completed as a homework assignment too depending on your student and parent population. (See comment section for 5th grade version submitted by Francie Kugelman)

I recommend having a selection of biographies available for students in class. The “Picture Book” series by David Adler is fantastic, particularly because each book has a timeline in the back.

Students then organize their research and present it on a four page vertical accordion book which can hang in the classroom.

  • See the student directions and rubric
  • See completed examples
  • See optional non-fiction biography report
  • In addition, this project lends itself to oral presentations. By using a linguistic frame even English Language Learners can be successful in their presentations. For example:

    For the past three weeks I have been researching information about _______________________.
    He/She is important because he/she ___________________________.
    In his/her life, several important things happened including:

  • 1. ______________________________
  • 2. ______________________________
  • 3. ______________________________
  • _______________________made a difference because ____________________.

    © 2007 by Open Court

    3 Responses to “American Heroes Biography Project”

    1. Mary Hahn Says:

      Here’s an extension I added this year to the project…

      The student writes a letter from the person to his/her class

      (Dear Boys and Girls of Room 3,…).

      They can create a letterhead or decorate it in any way. They make wonderful displays and very interesting to read. You can really tell who captured the essence of the person.

      Writing a letter from a character or a famous person to the class or vice versa is one of my favorite vehicles for students to write in the first person.

      I usually have a template that says:
      Dear Girls and Boys of Room 3….
      Sincerely yours,
      Benjamin Franklin (name of student writer)

    2. cityteacher Says:

      NIce! I have been thinking about the history standards and how to integrate them into the curriculum. This will be very helpful!

    3. Francie Kugelman Says:

      These files might help be an addition to your biography project. I use them
      in my fifth grade class:

      5th Grade Biography Project

      5th Grade Biography Project Rubric

      I usually have the students focus on Inventors, but this year I expanded the idea of biography to anyone. I just wanted them to experience the genre of biography.

      OCR for 5th does have three stories about people in history: Galileo – Unit 2 Astronomy, Sacagawea – Unit 5 Going West, and Bill Pickett – Unit 5 Going West.

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