SOS: Life Road Maps

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SOS Big IdeaStudying the lives and choices of historical figures and literary characters adds depth to understanding of content and helps develop empathy. This activity helps students better understand a particular person or character, by creating a road map of key events in his or her life and analyzing how those events contributed to choices made. This strategy can be used as part of a research project, as a way to review previously studied material, or as an 
assessment tool.


SOS StepsMaterials: Discovery Education video; images and/or reading passages about the person being studied, poster board or chart paper, drawing supplies

  1. Teacher preparation: Locate Discovery Education video clips, images, and/or reading passages about a signifcant historical person or literary character. 
  2. Share the media collection with students. (This could be done in a variety of settings, including as a flipped assignment, in small groups or as a whole class.)
  3. After students watch or read the media, ask them to write a journal entry about important moments and decisions in the person’s life. 
  4. As a whole class or in small groups, ask students to brainstorm various icons or visuals that could be used to illustrate those important moments and decisions. 
  5. Have students construct a road map that chronicles the important events they identified and includes some of the imagery they brainstormed.
  6. Encourage students to collaborate. 
  7. When the road maps are complete, give students the opportunity to share and learn from one another during a gallery walk. Encourage them to look for similarities and differences among the maps. 
  8. Finish up by having students discuss what factors they think in?uence the choices people make and whether specific factors help people make progress or hold people back?


SOS Sum It Up


This strategy helps students gain a better understanding of a person’s life. It provides them with hands-on practice with creating and analyzing a timeline, which helps them to make comparisons between a famous person’s life and their own.



SOS More Ideas


  • Have students follow these same steps to construct a road map for themselves. This can be something they share with their classmates, as a way to help students get to know each other, or a final assignment for an identity unit. 
  • Assign the same famous person to several students and ask each of them to create a road map for that person. Students might research collaboratively but would still produce their own road maps.  The benefit of this variation is that it gives students the opportunity to see how the same information can be interpreted to construct different end products.

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