How to Virtually Teach Biographies

Blog post about teaching biographies in a virtual setting

Teaching biographies can be an integral part of your ELA instruction. While, many of us are having to adjust our planning in order to meet the needs of virtual instruction. So, we are now trying to figure out how to virtually teach biographies. In this blog post, I will be detailing some tips and tricks for teaching biographies virtually. So, if you’re looking for digital biography activities and resource ideas, you’ve come the the right place.

Using Videos to Introduce Historical Figures

BrainPOP videos to introduce biography

First, let’s talk about getting our kiddos ready for virtual biography instruction. When introducing biographies in your classroom, there are many ways to set the stage for engagement. These days, virtual instruction can prove to be repetitive for students. So, I’d recommend starting your lessons with a short attention-grabber. Fortunately, BrainPOP is the perfect place to start for biographies.

Beginning your virtual biography activities with a BrainPOP biography will help focus your students on the topic. They will be engaged, learn about a person, and, most significantly, see what information is important to biographies.

This resource is so easy to use! You have many options. You could open your student activities with a BrainPOP biography video. For example, after your virtual instruction, your students will most likely be completing an independent activity. Try linking a BrainPOP biography video to watch before starting that activity. You can assign your students the quizzes, graphic organizers, or game activities to follow.

Another option is to assign different individual figures to your students. This will allow each student (or group of students) to teach the rest of your class about their figure. Either way, at the end of your virtual biography instruction, your students will have had an opportunity to learn about many different people, and what they should look for when studying, researching, or writing biographies.

Learning About Historical Figures with Virtual Reading Activities

Another great resource for your virtual biography instruction is virtual reading activities in Google Slides. These activities incorporate a variety of content skills. Students will be reading, practicing comprehension skills, sorting information, and writing. The digital biography activity in the picture is an easy addition! In fact, they are already made to be used in your virtual learning environments! These sets will include an introduction to biographies and four additional interactive pages to teach about 16 influential figures.

Link: Biography Unit

Let Students Teach Each Other Virtually

Student creating biography video on flipgrid

I have recommended FlipGrid for virtual instruction before, and I will recommend it again! This is the perfect platform for your students to create projects and add their own mark to the virtual biography unit.

With this activity, students could all be assigned the same figure. With a rubric or set of focus criteria, students would be able to create a video that highlights the important parts of the person’s life. Another option, would be to assign different figures to each student or sets of students. This would allow your students to watch their peers’ videos, looking for the important points and sets of criteria.

Introduce Virtual Biography Projects With Google Slides

Biographies require some upper-level research and writing skills. So, primary kiddos don’t always have a lot of practice with creating biographies projects. A great virtual way to introduce biography projects and activities to your younger students is to use Google Slides. This allows you to structure the project for them. For example, you can create a Slides presentation. On each page, insert an image and the name of a person you’re studying. Your primary students can list 2-3 facts about each figure! Once your students have experience with finding facts, you can increase the complexity of their Google Slides presentation requirements.

Suggested Resources to Make Your Virtual Teaching Easier

Finally, two all-in-one resources that can make your virtual biography instruction. If you’re looking for complete Biography resources and activities, I have some links for you! There are two options for you. The new biography no-prep unit comes with passages and activities for biographies, autobiographies, and 16 influential figures. The Biography Bundle is a bit more in-depth. It covers 32 people and each figure has 4 pages of information plus a flip book!

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