House Creek students become notable figures in student biographies

 In Central Texas, Copperas Cove

Catherine, the Great, John D. Rockefeller, Cicely Tison and Jessica Simpson are all ranked in the top 20 best biographies of all time based on book sales.

House Creek Elementary fifth graders have read and studied 19 different biographies as they honed their writing skills this school year. Their reading and language arts teachers chose to turn the tables give the students the opportunity be authors too.

Students’ names were drawn at random and each student became a “notable figure” as students wrote biographies about each other.

“I like doing the bio,” student Mason Franks said. “I got to learn more about one of my classmates…things I did not know already.”

Students spent a couple of days coming up with questions to ask their “notable figures” and learn interesting facts about classmates they have been in school with for years or new classmates they only met this school year. Students were required to write biographies that read like a story with five paragraphs and demonstrated different authors’ crafts that they have noticed during readings lessons.

“Writing is a passion of ours and we get to know people through our writing, especially while modeling,” said teacher Fabiola Florexil. “Students learned about their classmates too and their struggles, hardships, and joys, and how to empathize with them and get to know them better.”

Florexil said one of the biggest challenges was to get students to write five detailed paragraphs that sounded like a story and not robotic.

“Authentic writers are our goal in fifth grade,” Florexil said. “The students that enjoy writing did not have to be persuaded to write five paragraphs; they did naturally. We had to pull (the writing) out of the reluctant writers that told us they could not write and we showed them that they can.”

Students enjoyed working on the biographies about their classmates, especially getting to type the final product.

“One thing I liked about the biography was we could learn something about someone we never knew,” said fifth grade student Trey Morrow.

Florexil said writing biographies is a creative way to showcase the ways students can express themselves in their writing.

“We enjoyed seeing the accomplishment on their faces when they produced the final products that were typed and turned into books,” she said. “We enjoyed seeing students develop as writers, especially students writing with details. Writing is a lifelong skill that they will use to express themselves throughout their life, even in colleges or jobs.”