Famous Person Project: A second distance learning project for my ELA classes

When we closed campus in March, and "distance learning" became the default form of schooling for all students, I took a long look at the 9th grade English/Language Arts standards. I wanted to create projects for my students that would engage them through choice, and also be clearly aligned to standards they hadn't met yet.

The first graded project they did was Suspenseful Moments, based on their independent reading books, and building on the analytical writing we were doing in school.

Today, I launched their Famous Person Project, also standards based and choice inspired. In this project students choose a really famous person and then review multiple forms of media about that person. Their project is to analyze how that person is portrayed in the different media forms they examine. I'll list the standards at the end of this post. And, yes, my students still need further practice with analysis.

Since their last project was essay based, I also wanted to offer a choice about how they show their analysis in this project. So, I'm giving them a choice between another essay, a comfort zone for many, and a slides based screencast. A deceptively simple looking option that really requires as much critical thinking as the essay, plus technical skills. And, Flipgrid now has a screen recording option, so I set up a topic in our class grid and gave students a link to that.

Get your copy:
You can get your own copy of the project doc here. Be sure to click "Use Template" to make your own copy. I linked everything you should need for the project within that doc including the media organizer, the specific quizizz that I used, the project check in form, and the essay and slides templates.

There are teacher directions in most sections that you'll need to use and then delete before you send the doc to your students. The doc will be one page after you remove the teacher notes. (In case you have to print it.)

FAQ: (Answers without the questions to save us all time.)
  • I built this doc in Google Docs. 
  • I made the header in Google Drawings. You can have a copy
  • I'm giving my students two weeks to do this project. I mentioned this briefly as our next project weeks ago. I talked it over with some students who came to my office hour last week. (They suggested students should need my approval if they wanted to focus on an infamous person.)
  • I made the video version of the directions with Screencastify. Consider making your own because some of your details and due dates will be different anyway. Pro tip: Before you record use ctrl-+ to make the things on your screen bigger, or set the zoom on Docs to 100%. They will be easier to see in your video. 
  • The grid on the doc is just a table.
  • I used File/page setup to change the background color.
  • Yes, I taught this way before the pandemic. I've had 1:1 laptops since 2008. Diana Neebe and I even wrote a book about teaching with 1:1. The best place to get it is directly from our publisher, Stenhouse. 
  • If you have other questions feel free to tweet me @JenRoberts1. I'll be happy to help. 

Standards in this Project: (From the California Language Arts Standards, but based on the CCSS)
  • RI7. Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
  • RI3. Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
  • W2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • W9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

P.S. I casually posted the screen shot of the project steps on Twitter last night and asked if anyone wanted a blog post with more information. Thanks for the 31 people who replied in less than 24 hours and let me know they really wanted to see more. I hope this helps you.