INQUIRY 5: BIOGRAPHY
People in the Times
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Newspaper Issues to Use: All
Note: This is a team activity with individual components. Student teams research two historic people and create and optionally perform Question & Answer interviews where one person acts as the reporter and the other personifies the historic character (and vice versa).
Based on the evidence at hand, who makes the news?
How are minority ethnic groups or individuals portrayed in your section?
Biography means to research and write about the life of a person other than you. (When you write about your own life, it is called an autobiography.) Biographies of people in the past help us understand a person and his or her connection to ideas and events that may have changed the lives of others.
Inquiry Set-up for Students:
You work for a large newspaper that is circulated throughout the Pacific Northwest. The paper has assigned you to a new series called, "People from the Past." Your task is to work with your partner to do the following:
- Select a year (1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000) in which you will identify a particular person to interview.
- Read through the newspaper section that matches your year and identify as many people mentioned there as possible.
- Each team member will select one person from your list to research. Try to find out as much about the person as possible.
- Create a Question & Answer interview for each historic person you have researched. In the interview, one team member will be the reporter and the other will be the historic person. Your interview should include at least five questions based on the 4 Ws and H.
- Write your questions and responses for each historic person interview, then turn them in to your teacher for review. You might also consider "performing" these interviews for the rest of the class.
Activity Plan: Teacher Directions
Step 1: Have students self-select into teams of two.
Step 2: Student teams identify the decade on which they wish to focus and then begin to list all of the people noted in their newspaper sections.
Step 3: Students select a person listed from the class review to research. Students may find the following types of questions helpful when reading articles and doing research:
- Who are they, when did they live?
- Who in Washington might they be connected to today or in the past?
- What ethnic group do they represent?
- Why are they noted in the newspaper?
Step 4: Each team member writes a set of interview questions and replies relating to their historic person. These interview outlines are turned in to you for review, then revised by the students based on your comments.
Step 5: Establish an interview area where students can perform their interviews for the class. Historic characters should dress in the style of their time. If you have a video camera in your school, it would be a great exercise to videotape each interview. You may also want to time the presentations to help students focus their interviews.
Step 6: Student teams present their historic person interviews. One person plays the reporter while the other team member becomes the historic person (as he or she appeared in her time). Teams could have the option of having one person play the reporter and the other assuming two historic characters even though the other team member conducted the research.
Reading 1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2
Writing 1.1-1.3, 2.1, 2.2
History 1.1, 2.1-2.3, 3.3
Arts 1.3, 1.5, 4.1