Have you thought about assigning a middle school biography assignment to your students?
In the blog post, Why Teach Biographies?, I explained why teaching biographies in middle school is important. Students at this age are often very interested in themselves and their friend groups and sometimes forget to think about the world around them and the people within it. This blog post explains 5 reasons why teachers should consider adding middle school biography assignments to their class reading lists or unit plans.
What is a Middle School Biography Assignment?
To understand a biography assignment, you need to know what a biography is. When we look at the history of an individual, the compiled data about that individual written out thoughtfully is a biography.
Rather than a list of dates, a biography tells the detailed story of someone’s life written by someone who has interviewed or researched the person they are writing about. In comparison, a memoir or autobiography is usually written by the person who is the subject of the book.
A biography assignment is when a student is assigned the role of an author writing an account of someone’s life. Students can think of an important person in history, a person who inspires them, or even a famous athlete, activist, or musician.
Why Should Kids Read Biographies?
Just like the traditional book report, the report that often accompanies biography units is usually very similar to a traditional book report. It is important that some sort of assessment occurs at the end of any unit.
Additionally, when students are reading individual biographies of their own choosing, teachers often like to make these assessments include an oral portion.
Not only does this help improve students’ speaking and listening skills and cover these curriculum objectives, but it also allows all students to get at least a bit of background on many individuals instead of just the person about whom each student read.
So this is our challenge: As teachers, how do we create an engaging and quality end-of-unit project without everyone beginning, “My biography was about…”?
Middle School Biography Assignment
One great way to fulfill these needs is to use this Middle School Biography Assignment. After finishing reading their books, students will create a life map outlining the important events in their chosen person’s life.
Once these maps are finished, each student will provide a written explanation of his or her map and then create an oral presentation on it to give to classmates. This assignment works well with any biographies, memoirs, and autobiographies. It can be done as an individual project or in small reading groups and lit circles.
This Middle School Biography Assignment includes everything you need for a great project with the biographies that you already teach and that are already in your classroom or school library. The resource includes an assignment sheet, detailed lesson plan and teacher directions, graphic organizers, and both levelled and points-based assessment rubrics.
Use this Middle School Biography Assignment to help engage your students when learning about important people and times in history. Purchase this resource in Canadian dollars through my Shopify store.
Some Suggested People For Students To Research
- Terry Fox
- Barack Obama
- Malala Yousafzai
- Bethany Hamilton
- Katherine Johnson
- Trevor Noah
- Chris Hadfield
You can look for more ideas about inspiring Canadians in the article “20 Canadian Heroes You Might Not Know About—But Should“.
Biography units can be fun and interesting. Don’t let a worn-out assessment kill yours! Use this middle school biography assignment idea to help your students get excited about reading this genre.