Thursday, February 24, 2011

More about biographies before I move on

I have a lot more I would like write about biography research. But I will only share a few snippets.
The "R" word reared its puzzled head again. A young lady was trying to read about the young life of Betsy Ross, and was really making no sense of it. I finally figured out that one of the problems were the vocabulary words Quaker,Society of Friends, [married outside of the] faith, Episcopalian... basically a big part of the drama of her life was shrouded in unknown vocabulary.

A puzzlement for many of the students was the requirement that they learn about their subjects "youth." Vocabulary again. The most puzzled students couldn't define for me what youth meant. They just wanted to find a place in some book or article that would tell them about it. The idea of doing the math to find out how old their subject was when events happen seemed to be new to them.

Of course I realize that at the end of the month I was "supporting" research with the students who had been the least successful. Still, next year I will suggest that during the silly season for biographies that a little daily practice with dates in word problems could make thinking about dates and ages a little more intuitive for everyone.

I have read several of the finished biographies. The variety and level of the fourth grader's writing is impressive. There is just always so much I could have done better to support this work. Next year!

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