The Notables: Making Significant Historical Personalities Come Alive, pp. 6 of 8

Another way to structure student work is to develop questions with the class using a chronological framework.  These questions might include:

  • Early years: 
  • Where was my character born?
  • Who were my character’s parents?
  • Where did my character live?
  • What other significant events or people influenced my character during this period of life?
  • Middle years:
  • What relevant interests did my character develop?
  • Who are the people who influenced or mentored my character? (e.g. family, friends, etc)
  • What other significant events influenced my character during this period of life? (e.g. school, religion, etc)
  • Later years:
  • What significant contributions did my character make?
  • Who are the people who influenced or mentored my character? (e.g. family, friends, etc)
  • What other significant events influenced my character during this period of life? (e.g. school, religion, work, etc)
  • How is my character remembered?

These frameworks not only help scaffold and focus the “hunting and gathering” process when collecting information, but can be used as an outline for writing up the final report, as  information gathered for each question can be developed into separate paragraphs.

Finding resources to use when gathering information for each Notable can be a problem.  The scarcity of resources and finding suitable information at each student’s reading level is often a problem for primary teachers and students. Teachers can help find resources for the students from the school or public library, bookmark websites on the Internet at appropriate levels, and use available school resources such as encyclopedias. This can be time-intensive considering the number of students in your class (especially if you want a different Notable character for each student) and the range of reading levels students are likely to have. If the information is above their reading level, especially when using encyclopedia type resources, parents or other adults can also be enlisted to help read and work through the text together.

I also use this project to teach my students how to find readable, trustworthy, and useful information resources for their research. With the goal of helping students become independent and effective readers of information, I help my students develop and use a “Research Resource Guide” (see Figure 4: Research Resource Guide Sheet)

This research process focuses on specific strategies students can use to gather trustworthy, readable, and useful information about their notable figures. (More about this process and the ways students used this research guide can be found at Baildon & Baildon, 2012).

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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