Traditionally the freshmen English students put together some sort of autobiography project at the end of the year; we print them and file them in their permanent record to create a sort of time capsule piece they get returned to them at graduation.
My class ran out of time this year for a full paper, so this week I have them creating mini autobiography presentations, which they are sharing with their peers. It’s one of those projects that I created the class period before I needed to assign it, and like many of my last-minute projects, they turned out way better than anything I plan far in advance.
|A slide from my sample powerpoint I did with them|
Here are the criteria I gave them:
Total: ______/75 points **If you volunteer to go Wednesday, + 5%**
The kids really enjoyed this project; I think they should do it at the beginning of the year next fall. I can tell which ones are nervous to present, even for a <2 minute presentation like this. I also have learned this trick this year – give extra credit to kids who get done early. I immediately had 5 kids’ hands shoot in the air to present today instead of Thursday or Friday for the extra credit – and they were the same kids who rarely turn work in at all. So bonus: they get the credit, and don’t have to deal with missing work at the end of the quarter.
Because freshmen grew up in an increasingly digital age (my freshmen were pretty much all born in 2001 or 2002), they have ready access to photos from their youth – so their presentations are filled with baby pictures and family photos. I learned things about them I never knew, and cute insights into their lives:
– one student is a competing equestrian
– another looks up to Ed Sheeran because, in her words, “He’s short and red-headed too.”
– one of my class clowns has divorced parents, and based on his presentation this has affected him deeply; he chose the sun for his symbol because, “I try to shine brightly!”
– many chose their pets if they had to be an animal, although one girl chose a panda because, “They are lazy and like to eat a lot.”
– most had goals to get their driver’s license or improve their grades in the next year.
– many chose their confirmation verse for their “wisdom” slide, although one boy admitted, “I couldn’t remember mine so this is my mom’s.”
What I really liked about this is even more quietest, most struggling students had wonderful things to share. They look to their older siblings, other students, their grandparents, parents, and pastors. They all have dreams, goals, and passions. Sometimes by the end of the year, teachers want specific kids out of their classrooms as badly as the students want to be gone. This project was a neat reminder that even my challenging students are absolutely unique, worthwhile, precious human beings,
Also, I learned that girls can stand up in front of a room and talk about themselves WAY longer than boys can.
As an added bonus, these presentations were REALLY easy to grade – a great thing for the end of the year!