Step 2 - Do Research

While sifting through dozens of books, the excitement builds, and soon enough, students are shouting to friends about their finds. Students always want to begin reading their favorites right away, and I have to put them off — they have a mission to finish!

Faculty Webpages

Each group charts a proposal for categorizing the biographies and presents their plan. After the students vote on the organization schemes, they finally sort the books according to the winning plan, and at long last the biographies are available for reading insert raucous cheers! However the sorting process familiarizes the class with the range of biographies and it challenges them with higher order thinking, all while tempting students with new books. We begin by talking about a yearlong voyage in space, and I ask which ten items they would choose to bring for the journey.

My students sketch the contents of their intergalactic suitcases , deciding on the ten most important items to bring. Then I extend this suitcase metaphor to their research. We discuss their process of choosing items for their suitcase, and then think about which of these criteria also apply to researching. Finally, I have my students practice coding research notes on a graphic organizer , using symbols to mark the most important information and the facts they would excise.

I take notes about a biography read-aloud for the students to use, since they are less attached to my notes than to their own. After doing their own research, my students repeat the same process of coding the most important facts. Some of the projects were required, while others were options that I created using a biography menu. The projects range from very simple, single-period activities to more involved experiences.


  • What Is Included in a Biography?.
  • The Best Resources For Researching & Writing Biographies | Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day.
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This is a quick and easy one. I use this Printable time line template for students to plan their final time line. While teaching about chronological time lines, I squeeze in a bit of testing language that builds on the idea of sequencing. In addition to acrostic poems and clerihew poems which I wrote about in my previous blog post about Abraham Lincoln , my students enjoy writing odes and diamante poems about their biography subjects.

Many of my students love the Dear America and My Name is America series, both of which focus on first hand accounts of American history told through the journals of young Americans. With these favorite chapter books as mentor texts, my students already have a strong background in fictional historical diaries, and they are eager to try writing their own historical diaries from the point of view of their biography research subjects.

After visiting a wax museum with my class, my students proposed creating a wax museum of sorts back at school to share information with other classes about their biography research subjects.

My Autobiography Essay - A Research Guide for Students

They wrote biographical placards, much like those they saw at the wax museum, and then set up museum exhibits around the classroom. What is included in a biography will become more complex as the biography gets longer: the more words you have to use, the more facts you can consider for inclusion. A biography that's several pages long will go into more detail about the person's history; a book will further discuss what events throughout life made them who they were, and what is significant about them.

Also, knowing how you'd like to divide the story and what points you'd like to discuss will help you determine what information is most important.

Step 1 - Choose Your Subject

For example, if the focus of your biography is on someone's service in a war, then you wouldn't need to spend a lot of time on their early career as a salesman, unless that had an impact on their actions during the war. A biography can contain almost anything about a person - their entire life, or just one key event. What information you include is up to you. Most biographies, regardless of their length and target audience, will provide basic facts like the time and place in which the person lived. But other, more involved details will depend largely on the situation - and on the writer.

As you write more involved biographies, you'll find yourself faced with questions about what to include and how to talk about it. Just keep in mind why this person is interesting to you, and who might be interested enough to read the biography. Then write the biography based on the facts that will be most important to your audience and that tell the most about your subject. By continuing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Choose Your Focus

Please set a username for yourself. People will see it as Author Name with your public flash cards. Consider Your Audience The key to writing a great biography is really found within this idea: choose facts that are both relevant and interesting to your audience. Writing for an Unknown Audience Of course, you won't always know who your target audience is - if you're writing a book, for example, you can't always tell who will read it.

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External resources:

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