Thursday, April 11, 2013

1st Grade and Biographies

During the past couple of weeks, I have been teaching the 1st graders about biographies.  I've been using guidance form the site,  This site recommended using The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles and The Picture Book Biography series by David. A Adler. 

I introduced biogrpahies to students by explaining that they were stories about real people.  They seem like fictional stories because of how they are written, but they are not.  And for the whole first lesson, continued to answer the question, "Is this person real?"  At least, they didn't ask that question anymore after the second and third lesson.  They moved on to, "Is this person dead?"

The first graders really enjoyed the book, The Story of Ruby Bridges, which was expecially effective since Ruby Bridges is their age in the book.  I asked them to point out characteristics of Ruby throughout the story.  With examples of Ruby walking through a crowd of angry adults, Ruby praying for those angry adults, and Ruby continuing her education despite being the only child in the classroom, no wonder it is such a powerful example of not only biography, but character, as well.  Students came out realizing how strong, brave, courageous, and kind Ruby was. 

The series I will admit to being a little prejudice against (and for no reason, whatsoever) is Adler's Picture Book bios.  I decided to give one a try and boy, did my students respond well!  I decided to read them A Picture Book Biography of Helen Keller.  The target of the lesson was to be able to use the beginning, middle, and end of the story to tell about the events in Keller's life.  The story was written so well, that my students easily picked out events to string together Keller's life. 

I also used World Book Online to show them what the Braille alphabet looked like and a photo of what it looked like being read.  Then, I pulled up My Discovery Education streaming video and played a clip from Maya and Miguel, "Give Me a Little Sign," where Tito befriends a new boy, Marco, who is deaf.  The real winner was passing out books on sign language to my students.  They lOVED it!  They were so intrigued by the language and practicing it themselves.  A couple of my students would come up to me and say, "Ms. Ehll, what does this mean?", "Ms. Ehll, look what I learned!"  And that my friends, is worth its weight in gold.

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