Holly Olsen used a different approach to incorporate the biography unit into her fourth-grade classroom at Fremont Elementary.
Instead of assigning her students to write timelines about people, she told them to write biographies as if they were the people themselves.
“The kids, within a couple days, knew who they wanted to research. There was a lot of enthusiasm,” Olsen said.
On Friday, Feb. 20, her students shared what they learned with the other students in the school.
Over the course of an hour, Fremont Elementary’s classrooms visited the school’s gym, where Olsen’s students set up what they called a wax museum.
The fourth graders dressed like the people they chose for their writing.
Their wax museum included Anne Frank, J.K. Rowling, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln and Wilma Rudolph.
Olsen told her students to write in the voices of the people they chose.
“I had seen it done,” she said in explaining her decision to do the unit in this manner.
It was the first time she did this type of biography project with students.
Her class read biographies, and in some cases, Olsen suggested ideas.
Marshall Schmitz is in the process of reading J.K. Rowling’s series of books about Harry Potter and recently visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.
With a cloak and wand from the park, he already had the necessary costume to dress the part.
Schmitz thought it was a fun project.
While he was familiar with Rowling’s process of writing the Harry Potter series, he learned Rowling wrote her first book when she was 6 years old.
“That’s crazy,” he said.
Neveah Tessen chose Tubman as the subject of her biography project after Olsen read a book to the class about Tubman.
“I absolutely loved her,” Tessen said.
She said Tubman faced many challenges in her life, which is something she relates to her own life.
Eli Nett decided to become Abraham Lincoln.
“He’s my favorite president,” he said. “He was a good president.”
Nett learned about Lincoln’s childhood during his research.
“His mom died when he was 9 years old. He loved reading,” Nett said.
Those are examples of some of the bits of information the fourth-grade students shared with their fellow classmates.
Olsen also moved throughout the gym and watched her students become people of the past and present.
“I’m very proud of them,” she said.