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Fifth Graders Take A Modern Look at Famous Figures

The bottle doll biography project is an annual tradition in fifth grade classes in the Massapequa School District, and now students are using technology to take their presentations to the next level.

Students selected a famous person to research and wrote a paper, in addition to building a model of the person using an empty soda bottle. They used books and online resources to look up biographical information about their subjects, including accomplishments and contributions to society.

In Mary Elizabeth Delaney’s class at Unqua Elementary School, students added several technology components, including “trailer videos.” Working with technology learning coach Alison Morgan, students were recorded in front of a green screen speaking about their famous individuals. They then used WeVideo to add a background, as well as music, photos and text. Ms. Morgan taught them about the program’s different features so they could do their own editing. The completed videos were then shared on Flipgrid in a class compilation.

Students also added QR codes to provide readers with easy access to their videos and the digital versions of their books, simply by using their phone cameras. Ms. Delaney’s class hosted a virtual publishing party in which parents joined via Google Meet, and each student came up to the podium with his or her bottle doll and shared a few facts.   

At Fairfield Elementary School, fifth graders created video biography stories on their famous figures with support from technology learning coach Vickie Ahearn and library media specialist Claire Mitchell. The digital timelines included information such as when and where the person was born and notable accomplishments, as well as a quote. They also livened up their presentations with pictures and music.

Like the peers at Unqua, fifth graders at Fairfield also used WeVideo, learning how to use the program from Ms. Ahearn before getting to work.