In the Classroom: 2nd Grade Brings Biography Project to Life

In early February, Tricia St. George’s 2nd grade class welcomed 21 famous folks from the past AND the present. Think Annie Oakley, superstar Beyonce, actress Marilyn Monroe, former US presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, and yes, current USA Olympic ice hockey phenom Hilary Knight.  

As part of the second grade social studies curriculum, students spend time learning about biographies. They listen to stories, read books, and watch videos about influential and inspiring individuals who have made an impact in our world. As a conclusion to the unit, students get to choose someone they have a desire to learn more about. They conduct research using chrome books, learn to highlight pertinent information and then put it into their own words. They write their reports in class and then present their reports in first person and dress and speak as if they were the famous person. They are required to share when and where they were born, a little about their childhoods, major accomplishments ( awards, medals, books), when they died, if still alive - what they are doing now. There is a wide range of presentations from conservationists, former presidents, athletes, scientists, and musicians. This project covers many curriculum requirements as it incorporates reading, writing, research and computer skills along with public speaking. 

This is one of second grade teacher Tricia St. George’s favorite units. She says she loves this unit because  “I think it is an important unit because it gives the kids a chance to choose their learning. They have ownership and excitement about their learning. It is also a great opportunity to become more confident speaking in front of their peers and an audience. It is a little less scary when you are pretending to be someone else! The kids rocked their presentations and felt super proud!” 

We thought it would be fun to speak to a few ‘famous people’ and find out what inspired these students to choose their person and what they felt was their favorite factoid. 

Arielle Ries, aka music superstar Beyonce
Wyatt Matthews, aka athlete Matt Ryan, Quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons

Why did you choose this person to study?
Arielle: I really like Beyonce’s music. My favorite song is “Halo.” She’s a strong, powerful Black woman and I like that she makes everyone smile. 
Wyatt: I was born in Georgia, and I’m a big Atlanta Falcons football fan. Matt Ryan’s played for a long time, and he’s a good person. 

What fun fact did you find out about this person? 
Arielle: I could not believe she (Beyonce) has won 11 Grammys! 
Wyatt: I did not know he (Matt Ryan) was born in Pennsylvania! I also did not know he was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2008 and the NFL’s MVP in 2016!