The biography project is a second-grade tradition that involves cross-departmental collaboration and engaged student learning. Each second grader is tasked with selecting a person to study and presenting their learning this year in innovative ways modified for the remote learning environment.
Literacy: Research and Writing
Prior to spring break, teachers called on librarians to pull and display books about people who have made (or are making) positive contributions to society. These were organized by topic - scientists, athletes, entertainers, political leaders, and so on. Students were encouraged to explore different topics and write down the people who interested them. After making their final selection, students completed a 'Biography Project Choice' sheet to get approval for their project. Then, they went on to use library resources to understand more about the person’s life, impact, strengths, and challenges they faced and overcame. This information was included in a written report.
Innovation: Empathy and Design Thinking
Working with the innovation team, students used the design thinking process to imagine, create, and evaluate a tool that could help the person they are studying to overcome a challenge or a symbol/artifact that represents their person in some way. Just like in the Gates Invention program, students participated in “green light” meetings where they pitched their idea to teachers. The innovation tools were featured in a fun video showing students “passing” their inventions to one another. Watch it here!
Next, students worked with Ms. Silver in the communications department to prepare a video describing the person they studied and the tool or artifact they created. Second-graders were encouraged to dress in costume as the person or an ally or to wear professional attire. Each student also shared a three-minute live presentation with their classmates. They were given a list of more than 70 creative ways to show their learning such as write a poem, create a game show, draw a comic strip, make a word search and many others.
Students were encouraged to explore the videos and the work of their peers guided by a Bio Expo Scavenger Hunt worksheet. They also met as classes to look at other projects the students created.
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.