Tag Archives: Mary Dodson Wade

Course 5

The Revolution of Revolutionary Biographies

Realized that I never posted a link to our Middle School U.S. Revolutionary Biography lesson. The format is not UbD, but it is similar and it is the format we use at our school. The steps we have taken have been outline in previous posting, which I will also link to. We continue to work on the lesson, however now that we have time to breath a bit we are also playing catch up in other areas as well. In small schools like ours we were many hats and only have one head! I’ll get back to you with some finished products in the near future!

The links below take you through some of the steps and thought processes from the start of the lesson to where it currently stands. You could also scroll down on the blog and start with the posting titled “A Life Preserver Please!”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Link to Lesson Plan:

Revolutionary Biographies Lesson Plan

For Rubrics to the lesson check out Diana’s Blog:

Diana’s Blog

Feel free to ask any additional questions that you might have!




Course 5

Life Preserver III

Unfortunately this year spring break came a week earlier than most schools that tend to coincide their breaks with the EARCOS conference. The Friday before break was also another lost day with most of LA/SS class time getting eaten up by an exceptionally lengthy community time at the start of the school day. Needless to say we are officially really behind schedule.

Students did get some work down however. Final biography drafts are almost all complete. That being said there are always exceptions! A few students moved into the peer editing process and were able to give some nice feedback to each other. The goal for Monday is to have all students complete their peer editing so that we can send them off to Mary Dodson Wade for some valuable feedback!

Some real peer reviewing going on here!

Once we have Mary’s comments in hand our kids will be able to finalize their bios. In the meantime students will be able to continue to search, create and transfer visuals into the selected tools for presentation all the while keeping in mind that their target audience will be K-2 students here in Rumbai as well as at our sister school in Duri via Internet. This is an exciting part of the lesson for me. I am looking forward to seeing what tools they’ve opted to use for their historical biographies. What new tool that they may have discovered and we all get to figure out how it all works for what we need it to work for!

More to follow…

Course 5

Life Preserver II

Life Preserver Cont…

With Mary Dodson Wade’s visit over and the foundation set, Diana went to work presenting the biography project to her middle school LA/SS class.  My plan would be to come in as much as I could in between play rehearsals. Since I was not one to be teaching the writing part my primary focus was on assisting kids through their technological endeavors.

Introducing historical biographies

Before the lesson began Diana and I were looking at ways in which we could incorporate technology. The kids had been shown a number of presentation tools throughout the year including, vuvox, voicethread, Comic Life, voki, storyjumper as well as others. These would all be options to the students, but my hope was that some students would be able to locate their own tools. Tools that might better cater to their target audience of K-2 students. I had high self-fulfilling hopes of learning about something new from our student with this option for self-exploration.

The students/teacher list of tech tools grows!

The larger issue for Diana and I became the aspect of collaboration with the outside world. Mary had already physically graced us with her presence, but perhaps she would be willing to continue this little experiment of ours virtually. Diana composed and sent of an email to Mary asking if she wouldn’t mind taking on the roll of editor so to speak. Students would send off their final drafts along with a lovely thank you note to Mary who would in turn offer the students suggestions prior to “publishing” their final drafts. Originally we had planned to only share in person the finished stories to our K-2 students and virtually with the middle school students at our sister school in Duri, three nauseating and bumpy hours away. Then it occurred to us why not let our kids present them to the K-2 students in Duri as well. It would require us to work out some logistics seeing as our students would potentially be using a variety of tools. Skype may work for part of the presentation, but not all. Perhaps screen share would work. Needless to say we needed to wait and see what tools the kids final settle on using and then get out fantastic Tech Coordinator Barry involved!

In the meantime Diana and I would continue to facilitate. Guide the kids when guidance was needed and make sure that they stay the course due to our limited timeline. I was already seeing how easy it was for them to get sucked into one site without exploring others.  So for now students are busy gathering relevant data on their historical figure, finding or creating images to use and ultimately deciding what tools would work best for their presentation.

Stay tuned…

Course 5

A Life Preserver Please!

Here I am in the midst of a school year like never before and less than a month to go before having to present to my cohorts in Bangkok. Everything seems to hit at once this year and this spring was downright brutal. Within a two-week time frame the school was buried with student-led conferences, progress reports, science fair and for me, I was deep into spring play preparations, which was rapidly approaching. I already knew that I would have to abandon any idea of creating a project in my specialty area of art. Those classes had already given way to music and performing arts for the show. It was time to jump on to somebody else’s coetails (betcha’ haven’t heard that one before!). Fortunately for me my lovely wife Diana is also in the program and happily agreed to join forces with me for our final. We bounced several ideas off each other, including working with our friend Chuck in Portland who is a web and graphic designer as well as with our friend and high school teacher Debra in California. Unfortunately neither of these ideas would come to fruition due to the time we had left allotted and with the ship rapidly sinking we were sure to be going down with it. Then out of nowhere a life preserver was thrown! A life preserver in the form of author Mary Dodson Wade.

Mary Dodson Wade contacted our tiny school in the middle of Sumatra and asked if we would be interested in having her visit and speak to our students. It turns out that her husband is an engineer who happened to be presenting a workshop in our neck of the jungle and Mary frequently accompanies his on his business travels. This seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up for our middle school students, regardless of all the happenings. It also presented Diana and I with a direction for our project.

Mary Dodson Wade has been writing for a number of years now with her first book being published in 1984. Since then she has written over 50 titles, most of which are biographies focusing on important characters in American and Texas history. Although Diana wasn’t planning on teaching biographies until later in the year, this seemed worth pushing forward for.

MaryDodsonWade at Internation Schools Riau

Mary presented to our middle school students on March 8th and 9th. Unfortunately I was tied down with elementary play rehearsals, but thanks to technology I was able to watch her presentation later. Mary gave a lovely overview of the process she goes through in the writing of her biographies. Where the ideas first come from, the thorough research she puts into each subject, finding the tiniest, yet intriguing little details. What was nice to hear her talk about and really emphasize with the kids was the importance of checking the authenticity of their sources. We have talked so much about citing sources and checking the validity of where the information actually comes from throughout this CoETaIL program and to see this real world connection was great. Mary continued by discussing the actual writing process to our kids. Making sure they understood that they not only needed to include the pertinent parts that make the person important in history, but also the ones that are going to really relate to their target audience, which in our case is K-2 students. She then discussed the many drafting processes her stories would go through, much to the chagrin of our students. Yet again here we were getting a real work connection and answer to that age-old middle school question “Why are we doing this?”

Mary’s visit was brief, but nonetheless set us on our way! The students were eager to get started on their own biographies and Diana and I were anxious to let them get started as the clock was still ticking! Now time to incorporate technology!