This is a social studies and language arts project that I’ve done many times over the years with various classes, usually right around Presidents’ Day and Black History Month- but it could be done any time of year. It’s standards-based and it’s fun! Two of the things I want most in a project. I’ve also just given it a recent update to make it adaptable for distance learning.
The kids get to choose their own American hero to research and write about. The writing part of the project requires them to use non-fiction text or online sources to answer questions in complete sentences, and they also do an oral presentation in front of the class where they speak from their hero’s point of view. I use a rubric to grade their presentation and writing.
Here’s the part they love most- they get to dress in costume as their hero for the presentation! Here are some of my students from past years (I have the kids present on different days to break up the presentations…although wouldn’t it be nice to have a class this small)!
Yes, that’s Oprah in the bottom left hand corner. Not someone we learned about in Social Studies, but when my student asked permission I just couldn’t say no. As long as those reading, writing, and listening & speaking standards are being met, right?
And I can’t help sharing one more…I just love how creative they get!
When classes have talked about their favorite memories at the end of the school year, the kids always bring up the hero project as something they’ll remember.
If you’re interested in doing this project with your class, I have ready-to-print and editable versions of the instructions and rubrics, so you can customize the project to meet your needs. There is also this final draft paper for students to use for the writing portion (and illustrate a picture of their hero):
Everything is also digital on Google Slides, to be able to use for distance learning. For the oral presentation, kids could submit a video on Flipgrid and type the written portion of their project. Also pictured below is the editable rubric.
And just in case your students might need to do a little reading up on American Heroes before assigning this project, my Close Reading passages (and opinion writing pages) just got a digital update for distance learning too:
You get a better deal on both resources when grabbing everything all together in my American Heroes Bundle.
Project aside, when it comes to my own personal heroes…teachers are definitely at the top of the list, especially this year!