Biography Research Ideas
Hey, y'all! My students have some amazing questions about people and places we're learning about. I wish I could answer them all, but alas, I do not know everything about everything. *Sigh* However, if we can teach our students how to find out their own answers to their questions, we can create independent, self-driven learners. That's where this biography research unit comes into play.
My students what to know more about everyone we learn about. All these questions lead to fabulous research opportunities. But I don't want to purchase fancy research units that only focus on certain people. I want something open-ended. So that when my students ask for more information about Martin Luther King, Jr. or Amanda Gorman or Greta Thunberg or our governor, I don't have to reinvent the wheel.
There are interesting people all over the world, and from all different eras. I may have my students focus on a specific time period for certain units, but I don't want to limit them and their thinking.
So we start with their big questions, what they already know about a person, and what they want to know. They may not know anything about a person yet and they may not know exactly what they're wanting to find out yet, but this question page is a great place to get them started and they can always come back to it if they need to.
I leave a lot of the research up to the kids, but there are a few basics students probably need to know while doing their research. This includes when and where the person was born, their family, what they're famous for, and what happened based on the actions of this person. Did the person help or hurt the people and community they lived in, and how so?
As students read and research, it's important for them to keep track of their sources so that they can refer back to it if needed. We learn about main idea and details before diving into this research so that the kids better understand what they're reading. They also need to put the events of the person's life in chronological order for it to all make sense.
When students are done researching, they can use the pages in this unit to write a report or a presentation to share with the class. But they could also have a wax museum, create a poster or slide deck showing what they've learned, give an oral report, or write a song or poem about the person and their life, or any other thing you and your students can imagine.
This is not a fancy unit by any means, but it simple, straightforward, and thorough. Like I said before, you won't have to reinvent your research unit when students want to know more about different people. They can use the same format each time, lessening the learning curve each time.