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Pizza Biography

Subjects

  • Language Arts
    History

Grade

  • 3-5
  • 6-8
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Brief Description

Do your students love pizza? If so, they'll love creating pizza biographies!

Objectives

Students will
  • create a "visual" biography of a famous figure, in which each pizza slice represents a paragraph and toppings represent supporting details.
  • build research techniques, including note-taking and writing from research.
  • present information gathered from research.
  • practice following instructions.

Keywords

African American, Black History, Women's History, Discoverer's Day, biography, report, pizza, note-taking, research, writing, detail

Materials Needed

  • pizza box (large). Many pizza restaurants will provide a set of boxes because they appreciate the fact that you might put out the word to students' parents about the pizzeria's generosity. If you use real pizza boxes, students might glue white drawing paper to the top to cover up advertising. Or you might spray paint over the advertising so students have a white surface to write and draw on.
  • Internet and/or library access
  • construction paper
  • note cards, paper, pens, pencils
  • markers, colored paper, paint, glue, and other art supplies

The Lesson

This lesson can be used as an alternative to "typical" biography reports. The activity can be used any time of year, but is an especially nice way to recognize special events such as Black History Month, Women's History Month, or Discoverer's Day.

Research
First, have students select a famous person about whom they would like to write a biography. After they have chosen a subject, students use library or Internet resources to research the life of that person. For students in grades 4 and above, this activity is an excellent time to teach note-taking skills. Older students also should create a bibliography.

Constructing a Pizza Biography
The pizza biography includes three elements:

  • The Box Top. Here, students introduce the topic of the biography. The box top is the place they can get creative with a fun title and slogan, lettering, illustrations/photos. Among the creative things students can do is highlight a few of the most important facts about the person. (They might, for example, record them in the kind of "burst slogans" -- such as The Best Pizza in Town! -- often seen on pizza boxes.) One student wrote on his pizza cover Hand-Tossed by in the spot where the student-authors were to record their names.
  • Inside the Box Top. Here students write a "[insert name of famous person] fact sheet." Decide in advance how many facts students should record on the inside of the box top. (I had my students record 50 facts - "no less, no more.") Some students recorded each fact on a pizza bread stick illustration!
  • The Pizza. Now to the real meat of the lesson! This is where students write the actual reports about the famous person they have researched. Each slice of pizza represents what would be a paragraph in students' biography reports; each slice includes at least three sentences related to a single topic/theme in the famous person's life. If you teach older students -- and if you are trying to teach the concept of supporting detail -- students might write the topic sentence along the crust of the pizza and write each supporting detail on a slice of pepperoni. Decide in advance how many slices (paragraphs) the pizza must include (depending on the age of your students). Younger students might write eight "slices," for example; older students might create 12, 16, or more slices. If students run out of space on the pizza box, they can layer new slices (pages) on top of others to create a pizza slice "book."

Assessment

Provide in advance a rubric that stipulates levels of student success related to: overall presentation, creativity, fact sheet content, and report (pizza) content.

Submitted By

Submitted by Jennie Griffin, Rockvale Elementary School in Rockvale, Tennessee


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04/16/2004