Biographies are an important non-fiction text type to teach. Students can get stuck in their own worlds and forget about the great things that are happening outside of their immediate community. When planning out their teaching units, it is important that teachers include biographies as a non-fiction text type or as an option in a non-fiction unit.
Below are five reasons it is valuable to teach biographies to students.
- Biography excerpts make great mentor texts. A lot of teachers use small sections from biographies in their classrooms when getting students to write their own biographies or biographical moments.
- Learning about the accomplishments of other people can inspire students. When students see the great things that people have done, they begin to open their mind to possibilities that might not have existed.
- Students can learn about the world through the struggles and challenges others have faced. Students need to see that when you work through your struggles and challenges good things can happen.
- Lots of variety of author writing styles in biographies. Students can read biographies, memoirs or autobiographies depending on their reading style preferences.
- It provides variety in a student’s reading diet. Students naturally gravitate towards fiction books, but introducing non-fiction is important too. The majority of their adult life reading will be non-fiction so let’s encourage our students to learn more about the non-fiction genre.
I keep biographies on my shelves all year and then once a year I have my students complete a biography assignment so they can learn from each other about the great accomplishments others have made. They must select a person who has made a positive contribution to the world.
In my Biography Symbolism Assignment, students read a biography, memoir or autobiography and then create a paper or 3D life map outlining the important events in their chosen person’s life. After creating the life map students will provide a written explanation and oral presentation of their life map.
- detailed lesson plan and teacher directions
- assignment sheet
- graphic organizers
- assessment rubrics (levels or points)
- differentiated and engaging activities
- individual PDFs of student pages for uploading to Google Classroom or other online learning portals
- Google Slides graphic organizers for 1 to 1 technology classrooms
- the assignment covers reading, writing, oral/speaking and media literacy curriculum objectives
Other Non-Fiction Resources
- Ditch The Weekly Lesson Prep – Full Year Lesson Plans For English Language Arts Teachers
- Engaging Students With Non-Traditional Texts
- Using Non-Fiction Texts in the Middle and High School Classroom
- Teaching Non-Fiction and Real World Connections
- Article of the Week Lesson Ideas for Middle and High School Students