Learning to write a biography paper is an important part of a kid's education, as a large part of the process involves learning how to do proper research, cite sources and approach writing about an important person's life from a new angle a young student can relate to. Teaching kids to write a biography paper is a project that should take up several class periods and never rushed, as some students may need more help than others if this is their first time writing a biography.
- Skill level:
Choose a person to serve as the subject for the biography or brainstorm possible subjects with the kids. If a student can choose his own subject (even if it's from a list you created), he will be more likely to take an interest in learning about that person. Depending on the age level of the students, you may need to stick to very famous subjects, as the more obscure (but still important) subjects are more difficult to research. Before assigning a subject, check out the available sources in your school's library to make sure kids will have adequate information to write their biography paper.
Schedule a date when your class can go to the library together and show students where the proper resources are. While it is important that kids can find biographies already written on their subject, it is important that their own papers include other sources, so be sure to show them where to find journals, magazine and newspaper articles and other types of literature that they can use to find information on their subject.
Give students a schedule indicating when specific steps in their writing process should be complete and check in on their progress. For example, they may need to show you all of their sources by Wednesday, have an outline by Friday and turn in the first draft on Tuesday. Breaking down the large task of writing a biography paper into smaller steps will make it easier for kids.
Spend part of your lesson before the outline reviewing how to write a good outline for a biography paper with kids. The level of detail will vary depending on the age level of the kids, but every outline should at least include an introduction, three or more main points in the body and a conclusion. For more detailed outlines, encourage children to add several subpoints to each point in the body. Remind them that biographies should move in chronological order, so the first point will most likely involve the subject's birth and childhood and the last might involve his death or later years.
Give kids class time to work on writing their rough draft, and later, editing their rough draft into a final copy. Encourage them to not just write the dry statistics of the subjects life, but to insert their own opinions and thoughts into the paper. Most subjects will already have biographies written on their lives, but the challenge for kids is to find out how the subject's life impacts their own.
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