Monday, January 27, 2014

WWI and 1920s PowerPoint Biography Project

My class has been really working hard on learning about World War I and the 1920s since we came back from winter break.  I love trying to bring our Social Studies curriculum into our other content areas such as Reading and Writing so that my students aren't just memorizing facts for our state test.  I am also trying to integrate technology into our classroom as much as possible, so I came up with a fun project to create with my small group of students using PowerPoint.
First, I placed my students into groups of 2 (and one of 3) so that they would have a partner to work on the project with.  Next, I created a list of all of the important people in our Social Studies standards that my kids need to know and had them each choose their top 3 choices.

Here is the list:  Langston Hughes, Babe Ruth, Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Duke Ellington, Margaret Mitchell, and Jesse Owens.

From there I assigned each group a person and gave them a packet to help guide them through the project that they are going to create.

Their first step to the project was to research their important person and find out as much information as possible.  If your class is anything like mine always are, you can't just send them off into the mysterious world of the internet where they are going to hop on Wikipedia and look around for a lot of information that may be interesting, but isn't necessarily important.  I always try to give my students some sort of outline or organizer so that they know what types of information they are looking for.  I also make it very clear that Wikipedia is not allowed as a research tool.
Once my students fill out their organizers, I check to make sure they are really getting the most important information; when they have it, I let them begin their PowerPoint presentation.  I have also given them an outline as a guide for creating the slides for their PowerPoint.  They do not need to follow the slides exactly, but it's helpful for them to have an idea of what can be included.  It's also important to provide them with a grading rubric so that they know exactly how they will be graded BEFORE they finish.

An important point to stress to your kiddos - slides on a PowerPoint should not have full, long sentences or giant paragraphs.  A PowerPoint is meant to be bulleted and have short clips of information for the audience to glance at quickly.  An audience should never spend a lot of time reading a slide.  The "meat" of the presentation comes from what the presenter says.  As they make their slides, they must create notecards to go into further detail about the information on each slide.

Another component that I want my students to incorporate is multimedia.  In their slides, they can include pictures, and even video clips, of their famous person.  This is pretty easy once they get the hang of it.  They can either copy pictures or save them to a computer and insert them into the PowerPoint.

Below is an example of a PowerPoint that one of my groups is creating.  They are still working on it and have been inputting information as well as photos.  They've learned how to quickly "copy" and "paste" the images and have even begun to find some unique slide designs.
Once the PowerPoints are finished, they will present them to the rest of the group.  This allows each person to get to know one of the famous people in-depth, but also have the opportunity to learn about the other famous people from this time period from their classmates.  I can't wait to see their finished products!

I'd love to hear comments on how this project worked with you students if you decide to try it!

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