Biography Magazine on Google Slides

Great project on Google Slides.  Give the students a template and let them research.I am a sucker for inventive publishing.  I mean, who wouldn't love taking a 5 paragraph essay and writing the final draft in a cool and different way?  I do that all the time in my class.  So when it came to publishing this year's biography writing, I just couldn't let them write a simple essay and draw a picture.  

Now, if you have followed along with my in the past, you know that I have creatively published this biography before.  I LOVE doing these Hanger People biographies but I felt like this year, since we are so into Google Slides and using our chrome books (which I have a class set of thanks to DonorsChoose.org!)  we could take these biographies in a different direction.  So instead of the hanger people this year, we created magazines.

Organizing the biographical research in the prewriting section helps the students to craft clear paragraphs.To begin, we of course started with the writing.  Being 5th graders, I knew that if I just told them to write a biography, they would be lost.  So instead, I helped to scaffold the writing for them.  When scaffolding, I use a style very similar to Paragraph of the Week/Essay of the Month in that I break the writing down into pieces.  We start from the inside out, with the content of the middle paragraphs first, then move onto the introduction and conclusion paragraphs.  I used these organizers to get them going.
Now, at this point in the year, we have done many lessons on research and navigating around Google, so they were able to fill in their organizers pretty quickly.  However, I did notice that many of them were focusing on the minute details of the subject's life.  They really wanted to talk about how many brothers and sisters the subject had and left out that the person helped to strategically win the American Revolution (or whatever they did that made them famous.)  So during the prewriting phase, we started with their middle life FIRST.  I wanted them to really focus not on when the person was born, but what he or she did that was vital to this time period.  I did A LOT of modeling.  This modeling during the prewriting really helped the students to construct nice, research-filled paragraphs that told the basic story of the life of the subject, focusing on the contribution that person made to the Revolution.

Once the writing was done (using all of the organizers), the fun part came.   Through Google Classroom, I assigned the students a magazine template that I created (you can get it here.)  You should have seen their little faces when I showed it to them!  They couldn't wait to get in and put their written work into the space!  

Creative way to publish student writing, using a magazine template instead of a piece of paper.For each paragraph, there was a page to fill in.  I wrote instructions in the "speaker notes" for the students to follow as they were typing.  So even though there was a template to follow, they still  needed to find pictures and adjust the fonts so that the space would be filled.  The kids really felt as if they were creating a magazine when they were typing!
Wonderful way to display biography reports.  Use Google to create a magazine template!Then came the front cover.  This page had them all giddy.  The students needed to find a picture of their subject and write a headline grabber that told of the subject's most important contribution.  They LOVED this part.  And when the magazine overlay was put on top.....you should have heard the oohs and aahs!

I am very lucky in that I have access to a color printer at school, so we printed them all out, bound it together with some long paper, glue sticks, and a staple gun, and I laminated the cover.  OH MY WORD.  I could not stop staring at them.  They came out GORGEOUS!  

Students in 5th grade display their "magazine" biography reports on figures of the American Revolution.


Fabulous project on Google Slides that you can have your students complete for any biography subject.Honestly, this is one of my most favorite things I have ever made.  The scaffolded organizers helped ensure that the kids were writing coherently and the magazine template just made for a magnificent display that encouraged others to read that written work.   Get your copy of the entire resource here.

What is one alternative publishing idea that you have for biography writing?  Please share below!

7 comments

  1. It’s no wonder your students were excited. The magazines look amazing! I wish I were teaching this year, so I could try this. Hopefully next year.

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    1. Thank you :) I couldn't stop staring at them either when they were all put together!

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  2. LOVE this idea! Question: How long would you say this project took your class from start to finish?

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    1. From start to finish, including all the writing and research and everything, was about 2 weeks.

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  3. Terrific project! Excellent combination of ELA and Social Studies standards!!! I just finished an online PD course about using technology/digital tools for assessment and learned about the SAMR Model for Technology Integration, so using that, you've definitely created a project that helps transform a simple biography essay into something greater. And with Google Slides, being able to share with other classes, admin, maybe even sharing with other schools, transforms to the highest level in SAMR. Kudos to you!! Winner winner chicken dinner! Thanks for taking time to blog this project.

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    1. Thank you so much! I am always looking to improve how I integrate tech in my class, so I am glad to hear the it is on the right track! :)

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  4. I teach 3rd grade, and my students have used Google Docs to publish their Question and Answer books as part of our informational text writing unit. They didn't use a template, though. The magazine template is fantastic. Thank you for the inspiration.
    Jan
    Laughter and Consistency

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