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Autobiography Teacher Resources
Find teacher approved Autobiography educational resource ideas and activities
A talkative old man? A naïve believer in Human Perfectibility? A Sage? Who is this guy, anyway? The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin launches a study of the way Franklin uses structure, style, and purpose, as well as different personas, to build our perception of him. Not only is this a good literary analysis and writing lesson, it also lends well to a cross-curricular activity with an American history class. Expand the lesson to individual autobiographical writing.
Autobiographies inspire creative writing while simultaneously acquainting you with your incoming class. Learners use Inspiration software to create a pre-writing web. Using Microsoft Word, a SMARTboard, and a peer editor, they write and type an autobiography. An oral presentation of these autobiographies will add to the experience.
Practice distinguishing biography from autobiography through point of view. Tell a brief story of your morning. Have a class member retell the story to you (using second person). And have another retell the story to the class (using third person). A creative opener leads into reading a couple of short passages in which you guide learners to identify biography and autobiography via point of view. Integrates study of Latin roots. You have open access to the lesson plan, but must register for a free account at Readworks.org to get the support materials.
Are you working on an autobiographical or narrative writing unit? Bring this activity to your class, as it takes young writers through the process of drafting and sequencing an autobiography. After observing and demonstrating steps of the writing process, they read and discuss examples of poetry, and write a letter to themselves. Additional activities include reading a passage from a memoir, creating a friendship graffiti wall, and writing about an adventure.
Is it a biography or an autobiography? Kids discover point of view as they listen to you tell a story about yourself (first person) and then hear two volunteers retell the story: one to you (second person) and one to them (third person). They apply these concepts, comparing and contrasting biographies and autobiographies. Use the lecture notes to explain prefixes in each word and context strategies to define a passage as one of the two genres. There are two short passage examples you can use. Do one together, asking kids to point out clue words that helped them identify the genre. As an added extension, find a reading packet for The Story of Jackie Robinson, Bravest Man in Baseball; kids begin by deciding the genre and can continue completing the packet as they read.
Design a pictorial autobiography using the letters of the alphabet. For each letter, writers select visual images that represent life events and interests. Younger writers add words or sentences of explanation while older writers narrate an event represented by an illustration. Books can be bound and shared with classmates.
Introduce your learners to the part of the writing process that includes revision and editing. Draw a simple flowchart on the board to help explain the steps in compsing a final draft of an essay. Then, either assign an autobiographical essay or look at each pupil's writing portfolio and choose one essay to revise. Wherever you are in the writing process, work on revision and rewriting to enhance drafts.
Start kids thinking about point of view and autobiographies by telling them a short story about your morning (first person), and then asking a volunteer to re-tell the story to you (second person). There are tips to help you tie this anticipatory activity into the nonfiction genre, and kids explore six types of autobiographies using a graphic organizer. They learn about how to identify a book as an autobiography using book features like the back cover summary. There are sample covers included that you can display or hand out, asking kids to look for genre clues. Writers synthesize these concepts by using one of four sentence starters to write a memoir of their own, taking on one of the autobiography types that resonated with them. There are six sample autobiography excerpts included for guided practice. Which words clues readers in to the genre?