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"Wright-ing" Biographies for Young Readers

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Subjects

  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
    --Literature
    --Visual Arts
  • Educational Technology

Grade

  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12
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Brief Description

Older students write high-interest, low-vocabulary biographies for young readers.

Objectives

Students will

  • research the life of the Wright brothers (or another famous person).
  • read several biographies for young readers with a critical eye toward interest levels and their use of vocabulary.
  • write a draft biography.
  • cross-edit with a classmate; accept constructive criticism and make edits.
  • share the final biography with a young reader.

Keywords

Wright brothers, biography, edit, peer, cross-grade, mentor

Materials Needed

  • sample biographies for young readers
  • access to biographical materials
  • book-making supplies

Lesson Plan

Note: This lesson engages upper elementary and older students in writing biographies about the Wright Brothers for younger students to read. While the lesson is focused on the Wright Brothers, it could be easily adapted to focus on any famous figure. For that matter, each older student could select a different famous figure to write about.

Select and read aloud to students several biographies of famous people that were written with young readers (grades K-3) in mind. After reading the books, discuss the following question:

  • How did those biographies differ from a biography you have read recently? (Students might point out that pictures played a greater role in telling the story, the vocabulary was much easier, a lot of details were left out, and so on.)

Write students' responses on a sheet of chart paper. Discuss why the reasons for each of the differences students describe: why pictures might play a greater role in books for young readers; why the vocabulary is easier; why some details were left out; and so on.

After discussing some of the differences, provide a variety of additional "young reader" biographies; have each student select a book. Instruct students to take home the book, read it for homework, and take notes as they read about information that might appeal to readers in grades K-3.

The next day, encourage students to share their thoughts and observations about the books they read.

Now tell students they are going to write books for younger readers. (You might already have made arrangements with a teacher in a primary grade to have his or her students serve as the audience for those books.) Have students talk about, and create a list of "Tips for Writing Books With Young Readers in Mind." Write student tips on chart paper and post them in a prominent place in the classroom. You might also type the list and provide each student with a handy reference copy.

Next, decide if each student will research and write about the same person(s) -- the Wright Brothers, for example -- or if each student will write about a different person.

Additional thoughts...
  • Writing about different people can provide a library of easy-to-read biographies for a primary-level class.
  • Students might work in pairs to create the books; one could serve as writer, the other as illustrator. They could research together and plan together. The writer would offer critiques/advice related to rough-draft illustrations for the book; the illustrator could make suggestions/critiques about the text.
  • Students might involve the younger students as they research the famous person they have selected. They can share what they are thinking about including in the books, and ask the young students which of those things they find most interesting and they can ask the younger students to provide feedback on the drafts of the books.
  • Students should use a variety of technology resources in creating their books.

When the Books Are Complete...

  • Hold a special "author tea," at which the authors read their books to a young child and then the young child takes a turn reading the book.
  • Create and present a special bookshelf (a cardboard box decorated with a collage of photocopied illustrations from the books, for example) for the books and a "catalog" for tracking the books as students sign them out.
  • Think about other ways in which older and younger students who have partnered for this activity might maintain their connection after the activity is completed.

Assessment

Students will share their books with one another (or with their team mate) and with the students they created the book for. Each student can write a brief evaluation of the final project.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
GRADES K - 4
All standards GRADES 5 - 8
All standards GRADES 9 - 12
All standards

LANGUAGE ARTS: English
GRADES K - 12
NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
GRADES 5 - 12
All Eras

SOCIAL SCIENCES: World History
GRADES 5 - 12
All Eras

TECHNOLOGY
GRADES K - 12
NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
NT.K-12.4 Technology Communications Tools
NT.K-12.5 Technology Research Tools

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