How to Get Students Excited for Online Research: Biography Lessons for Promoting a Growth Mindset

One of the most important types of reading we can incorporate into our online classroom reading time and at ‘at-home’ online reading time is the reading of biographies. Many children and students might disagree- Where’s the fun? Where’s the fantasy? Where’s the excitement? Reading biographies provide something that nonfiction books cannot: Real life experiences. 


How to Get Students Excited for Online Research: Biography Lessons for Promoting a Growth Mindset. Easily get your English language arts lessons filled with student engagement using NewsELA, Biography.com, and Britannica.com.

Finding biographies online are easy. Finding approved, accredited, factual, and accurate biographies, well that's another story. They are out there. We just need to find them and stick with reliable resources for our students to engage in research. 

One of the major benefits of our children and students reading more biographies is the knowledge of the real-world experience that these ACTUAL people lived through. Sure, they could read a book on the "Life of Harry Potter," which could be considered HIS biography, but it’s not real. Your students are never going to have the chance to experience what he did. Biographies are real. They are factual accounts of actual people. That is history! 

How to Get Students Excited for Online Research: Biography Lessons for Promoting a Growth Mindset. Easily get your English language arts lessons filled with student engagement using NewsELA, Biography.com, and Britannica.com.
NEWSELA is an awesome site for your students to do online biography research. Teachers and students have the capability to search online collections and for leveled readers.

Okay, so they are real and factual. What else is so important about online biography research ? When our students read a biography, they are taken into a different time period. Students come to learn and understand other people a little better. Their view of the world changes because if it weren’t for their reading, they may never have known something from the book. 

Their idea for their own future may change. They are exposed to how other people lived. Students are exposed to how other people interacted with others. Our students are also exposed to the struggles and hardships that famous people had to deal with and overcome.

Biography pennants are a great activity where your students can complete all their research online and then add beautiful color and design. This activity is double the fun! It will decorate your classroom!
In my opinion, that last sentence is THE most important reason our children should be reading more biographies. Nobody in this world is free from struggle. Each and every single one of us has our own personal problems, some larger than others. Each and every single one of us has to learn how to live, deal and overcome our problems. Even all of the famous people who have come before us- all of those famous people our children look up to and seek to be like- they all have had problems and struggles and they all have overcome them.

This is where the relationship of reading biographies and growth mindset come in. A growth mindset is having the belief that where an individual's abilities are at this point can be further developed through dedication and hard work. (EdGlossary.com, 2017). Too often we encounter people who have a fixed mindset, or that they strongly believe that they can never improve, that where their abilities are now, that is where they will be forever. That is just who they are. 

People with a growth mindset understand, "who they are right now, does not have to be who they are next week, or next month or next year." They can always change and improve to become something better. 

How to Get Students Excited for Online Research: Biography Lessons for Promoting a Growth Mindset

Ok, so how does this relate to students online reading and biography research? Young children are impressionable. They are easily influenced by people they know, trust and like. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When they read a biography of an individual they consider to be likable, they may start to want to be like them. They may love their life and their line of work and want to grow up to be them. They begin to realize that famous people have problems just like they do, and that they, too, can work through their problems and become a better person. 

BIOGRAPHY.COM is filled with biographies. Teachers can utilize the large collection of videos, too! The videos are short enough to show at the beginning of a new unit of study. Using Biography.com for online biography research is a great site to promote a growth mindset into your lessons.
BIOGRAPHY.COM is filled with biographies. Teachers can utilize the large collection of videos, too! The videos are short enough to show at the beginning of a new unit of study. Using Biography.com for online biography research is a great site to promote a growth mindset in your lessons. 

Once students realize that these famous people, who they look up to and idolize, had to overcome their struggles to become as famous as they were, their mindset will begin to change. They may think, “Ok, if that person can do it, maybe I can also”. Before they thought that they could never change, that they will forever be ‘bad’ at something or could ‘never’ be able to do that one thing. But, by reading biographies of famous people, our children will understand that they CAN change and be whoever they want to be, despite their struggles, with enough hard work and dedication. They will see if they want the chance to be whatever they want to be in this world, that no matter what they are dealing with now, never ever give up. 

The Britannica search feature auto-fills to ensure you do not spell a name wrong. I also love the list of articles for your biography study is listed which allows you to see them all in one place.
Opportunities for teachers to create lessons using online biography research. Promote a growth mindset using biographies of notable people your students will look up to.
The Britannica.com search feature auto-fills to ensure you do not spell a name wrong. I also love the list of articles for your biography study is listed which allows you to see them all in one place.

Would all of these individuals be who they were or be famous for what they were famous for, had they just given up and told themselves they could never do it, over and over again? No way! What a powerful message for our students to receive. Encourage more biographies. Your children will thank you for it.

Want to get started with bringing biographies into your English language arts lessons? Check out these education resources. They also look amazing on a bulletin board or on display in your school building.  

I hope you found some ideas to help you infuse digital citizenship into any online lessons. I've linked up with 5 other incredible technology-integrating educators from the Tech with Us Facebook Community to share more digital citizenship lessons and ideas in honor of Digital Learning Day on February 23rd. 

Digital Learning Day with ideas from Tech With Us! Click the links to learn more tips, ideas, and lessons for teaching digital citizenship on Digital Learning Day and beyond! Tips to Promote Digital Citizenship All Year Engaging Digital Citizenship Activity for Any Time of Year Digital Learning Day Ideas: 4 Strategies to Teach Digital Citizenship, How to Get Students Excited for Online Research: Biography Lessons for Promoting a Growth Mindset, Digital Citizenship Tips for Elementary Classroom, Ideas for Teaching Digital Citizenship with Edpuzzle.
While the obvious goal of Digital Learning Day is to see digital learning find a place in schools all year long, it is also the perfect time to revisit digital citizenship a second time if you haven't yet this year. Here is a great way to collaborate and emphasize digital citizenship with your students in your classroom.

This Digital Citizenship writing activity poster is triple the fun with the combination of coloring, creativity, and group work! All inspired by promoting good digital citizenship in your classroom. The collaborative poster comes with a discussion handout for, "how can you be a good digital citizen." The poster features social media, downloading files, posting messages and pictures, using apps, publishing content, a writing prompt and brain friendly fun.

Click the links to learn MORE tips, ideas, and lessons for teaching digital citizenship on Digital Learning Day and beyond!

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