Duration: 2 class periods
Interest building activity
Ask your students what ‘non-fiction’ means, to refresh their memory. Then ask them if they have ever read a non-fiction story about a person. Tell them that a non-fiction book written about the life of a person is called a biography. Biographies are written by an author about someone else. When the author writes about their own life, it’s called an autobiography. Tell students that today they will hear a story that is a biography, called Mother Theresa. Open up the story of Mother Theresa on the Smart Board and read it.
As a class, talk about what makes a good biography. They can think back to the story to help them think of good elements to a biography. What would make an interesting story about someone’s life? Come up with some basic questions to be answered and write these on the board. Some examples: When was the person born, and where? What was their early life like? Who is in their family? How would you describe their personality? Did they achieve any accomplishments during their life? What are some interesting stories in their life? If the person is no longer living, when and where did they die? Etc.
Now, pair off students and have them take out a sheet of lined paper and turn to their partner. Each pair of children will ask each other the questions that were listed on the board, as well as any others they’d like to ask. After students have had time to do this, they will then write a biography about their partner.
Have students choose an older family member such as a parent, an aunt or uncle, or a grandparent, and write a biography about them. This should be a longer and more elaborate biography than the one done in class, and can be done as a project over a week or longer. First, students should ask their family member the questions that were listed during class, as well as any other questions they would like to ask. Then students should write a draft, and after it is checked,have them write the final version, as well as design a cover for their biography.
In history and science classes, choose a famous figure and read a biography of them. Or, if preferred, have the students choose their own famous historical or scientific figure to write a biography about.