Through our autobiographic and collaborative biographic writing exercises, the children have begun to embrace what it takes to do biography. They have begun to make engaging text–to–world, language arts connections making use of prediction, logical thinking, and investigative research skills. They have interpreted information and established lines of questioning regarding story content and author's craft based on select readings; they have evaluated and drawn opinions and conclusions based on those story selections; and have gotten a sense of the persona of each author based on their story creations. The children have experienced that organization, fluency, and descriptive language are key elements in creating engaging stories. They have embraced the importance of establishing the setting (with a focus on time and place), the main character and major events in the character's life that help to convey a particular perception of the spotlighted subject.
The ultimate awakening is that our "experienced biographers" have learned that author's craft can be examined through the author's literary work itself, and that much background information about the author can be deduced through visiting the author's literary creations.
Keep the momentum going: have students try their hand at these additional autobiographic and biographic writing exercises:
"More About Me!" Autobiographic Sketch: Revisit the autobiographic snapshot exercise noted in the beginning of this unit. Have children select additional descriptive words to best describe other aspects of their personality. Upon completing the first draft, have students undergo the editing, peer conferencing, and rewrite process. As the student finalizes and produces each finished product, compile and bind his/her writings, creating a keepsake compilation that portrays the persona of the child from multiple perspectives.
"My Best Bud" Biographic Snapshot: Have each student identify a classmate or neighborhood buddy. (Have the child who struggles in developing friendships write about a favorite pet, teacher, or family member who they consider to be a friend.) Subsequently have students target a key event that occurred in their lives that epitomizes the quality of the friendship and personality of that friend. (Refer to the previously developed personality trait list for descriptive word suggestions.)
Host an Authors' Tea, inviting parents and administrators visit the classroom to observe students read their biography and autobiographic sketches aloud. Take photos of the event, posting photos and student story creations on a bulletin board for school–wide viewing.