When someone has a biography written about them, it is because they have done something in their life that others consider to be quite important--important enough to learn and write about! Usually the person has done something positive and admirable and is an inspiration to others.
In order to create a biography, students will learn about the person’s early life, childhood, education, family, and accomplishments. It is also important for the student to be able to express why they chose this person, and the impact this person has made on the world or the student’s life in particular. For example, students can ask: what can I learn from this person? What mistakes has this person made that I can relate to and grow from? How has this person inspired me?
When reading about and researching a person, students will encounter at least one theme, or recurring main idea, in a biography. The following is a list of potential themes:
Students should pay attention to what they think the theme is and be able to explain how they can learn from the person they are researching. Themes also make it much easier for students to present their chosen person's life as a narrative rather than a collection of facts.
Along with being able to identify the theme, there are certain elements of the biography genre that always need to be included in research if the information can be found. These elements are:
Other information like fun facts, quotes by or about the person, and photographs may also be included in the biography.
While researching an influential person, students will learn not only about the individual, but about many ways one person can change or contribute to the world. Learning about others helps us find the positive power within ourselves, and motivates us to be the best people that we can be. It is important for the student to fully be interested in learning about the person, so it is best if students choose on their own. Teachers may want to provide a list to help narrow down the choices by focusing on categories such as sports figures, entertainers, inventors, political figures, historical figures, change-makers, or someone the student knows personally. This way, they can make the biographies relevant to the unit they're teaching or the time of year!
Start by talking about the key life events in the biography with students. Consider birth date, family life, education, jobs, and personal events. Guide students through the key life events in chronological order.
After they understand the event’s in a person’s life, you can lead them to discuss themes, or what they learn about life from the biographical story. Common themes include making a difference, overcoming obstacles, and always have hope.
Have students use a Venn Diagram to connect with the person in the biography. They can share things they have in common in the middle of the circles, and things that are different about each of them on the outside.
Let students draw a body biography in order to understand the person more fully. Have them fill in body parts, such as putting what the character loves in the heart area, and drawing what the person thinks about up in the head.
When we read a story about how one person lived their life, we can better understand the power within ourselves and see how our lives matter. Every person influences the world around them.
Many biographies teach lessons such as how to overcome obstacles, believing in yourself, and making the most of what you have.
Most biographies explain a person’s birth and death dates (if they have died), what their childhood was like, their education, their work accomplishments and their personal or familial accomplishments.
When we read about other people's struggles and triumphs, we see what we have in common and are able to see the importance of our own life.