Biography Research: Collaboration Day Two! (Day 8 of 11)

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SWBAT use research notes to collaborate with others, creating a rough draft of a slide show about a biographical subject they researched.

Big Idea

Collaborating together with others who read the same biography, researchers will finish a rough draft of a Google Slide Show presentation. They'll decide who is responsible for which slides when presenting, and discuss all researcher's question stem notes

Welcome to My Lesson!

Welcome to a series of lessons I've created to accomplish Common Core Standards relating to reading biographies, taking relevant notes, and publishing a collaborative technology slide presentation.  This is a culminating project to finish up the last two weeks of a six week unit on creative, inventive, and notable people of the turn-of-the-century.  This set of lessons could be easily adapted to meet the needs of other biographical subjects in a different time period, or used with other types of informational text.  

I chose to use the Who Was? series of books for my researchers.  This series worked very well into the upper range of our Lexile band, provided text feature support, had many biographical subjects of the time period we are studying, and were just the right length to read in a week.  One advantage of choosing to use books within the same series is the text structure.  This made it easy when completing my daily lessons on reading and note taking.  

Please watch this short introduction video to hear more about this lesson.  Thank you!

Review Rough Draft Directions

10 minutes

This is day two of my students completing rough drafts for their collaborative Google slide show presentations.  They're working on finishing up writing information on a rough draft to get typed onto ten slides:  title, six question stem slides who - when - where - what - why - how, open-ended question, timeline, an bibliography.

Review Rough Draft:  Similar to yesterday, I put up my slide show rough draft sample about Louis Armstrong.  I go through the directions on the white board:

  • Title page:  Subject of biography, first and last name; All student names in group
  • Question stem slides:  Two or more sentences including the most relevant information; combine multiple ideas into one sentence
  • Open-ended question:  Create one open-ended question - all students will answer during presentation
  • Timeline:  Day, Month Date, Year (if possible); Event as a phrase
  • Bibliography:  Title of Book; Author  


Review Speaking and Listening Expectations:  We review expectations for speaking and listening by reading through the rubric.  I also have students share positive experiences from yesterday, and explain what it means to collaborate, and how it's helped this process.  (See Resource File:  Biography Research Rubric and Engage in Discussions Poster CCSS SL3.1)

Expectation = Finish Today:  I let the students know that we need to finish our rough drafts so that we can begin typing our final drafts in the computer lab tomorrow morning.  (See Resource File:  Biography Presentation Rough Draft)


**If your students have computers, Chromebooks, etc. you may be able to skip the written rough draft and go right to your digital slide presentation!  We aren't a 1:1 district yet, and our computer lab time is limited, so for now, we are completing a paper copy of our rough draft. 

Group Work: The Researchers Collaborate!

35 minutes

Group Collaboration:   The students continue to work collaboratively  together in their small groups, as I visit with groups a few minutes at a time.  I make sure the students are interacting, and participating in speaking or listening with their group.  I take notes by placing a check mark (participating), or a minus (not participating) next to students names on a class log.  I'll use this information later when I fill out student rubrics for assessment.  I did try to shoot some quick video so you could see my researchers in action, but I did have to help, and take notes on speaking and listening skills, too, so there are just a few short clips for you to watch.  (See Resource Files:  Research Video Rough Drafts 1-5)

Check with Teacher:  Today, when the students finish, I've asked them to raise their hand, so I can quickly check through their rough draft to make sure they have all the required parts.  

*By the end of our shared reading block, all but one of my groups is finished with their rough draft.  I will work with these students this afternoon to get them finished up so they can begin creating their Google slide presentation in the morning.

Review and Google Drive Demo

5 minutes

Review:  At the end of our shared reading time, I congratulate my researchers for working so hard together!  We review the steps we've taken in the research process up to this point:  read, reread, take notes next to question stems, and collaborate with others to make a rough draft.

Google Drive Demo:  Just recently, our third graders were given in-house Google accounts in our district.  This is how we'll be working on our collaborative presentations.  I explain that tomorrow morning when we visit the computer lab, they'll be working on a synchronous document.  I explain that they'll all be creating their group presentation at one time!  I show them on my SMART Board by logging in as two of my students working on the same biography.  I show them the slide show document and how you can see who is working on it at the top of the screen.  My researchers are very excited!

Lesson Extras!

I'm always trying to continue to reinforce Common Core standards we're working on, or standards I've covered in previous lessons.  Below are some additional documents I've created to support some of the standards covered within this unit.  I hope you find these resources helpful when planning future instruction, literacy centers, home activities, content area lessons, digital articles, etc.

Question Stem Flip Book:  This is a question stem flip book that my students completed earlier in this unit.  Fold the paper in half (hot dog style - the long way) and cut along the dotted lines to create tabs.  I found it helpful to have students write the question below the question stem word on the front flap when they were first learning how to accomplish this standard, and then flip open the flap to write the answer to their question in a complete sentence.  It took us a few weeks to get to the point of taking multiple notes beneath one questions stem, like we did in the Biography Research Unit (See Resource File:  Biography Flip book)

Question Stem Ask and Answer:  This is an activity that can work with almost any kind of informational material to practice using question stems to ask and answer questions about relevant information.   My class used it in our computer lab after reading an article on the Wright Brothers on (  Practicing reading shorter informational articles and responding to questions is similar to the types of sample tasks they have on the Smarter Balanced and PARCC websites.  I'm trying to integrate more digital literature with written response.  (See Resource File:  Question Stem Ask and Answer)

Biography Note Taking Sheet:  As I mentioned in one of my videos las week, the students have been practicing taking notes with question stems throughout this unit.  We completed other shared and independent reading about turn-of-the-century people.  This is a sheet the students used as we were learning how to take notes using the question stems.  (See Resource File:  Biography Note Taking Sheet)

Literature Analysis:  We also read the literature selection More Than Anything Else.  This is a sheet I created to help students with standardized questioning.  I try to have them complete these kinds of activities weekly to prepare for our PARCC testing.  (See Resource File:  More Than Anything Else Literature Analysis)

My Name is Georgia:  Another shared reading selection we complete is about turn-of-the-century artist, Georgia O'Keeffe.  After reading, my students completed this paper.  You'll notice how I was integrating our question stem focus standard within this assignment.  (See Resource File:  My Name is Georgia Questions)

Balloons Over Broadway:  The students also read the book Balloons Over Broadway which also follows our unit theme of creative, inventive, and notable people of the turn-of-the-century.  This is an assignment they completed, again to practice question stems.  (See Resource File:  Balloons Over Broadway Question Stem Assignment)