|Teaching and Learning Procedures
Prior to the Project
- Contact a local nursing home or senior centre and explain that as part of a project on biographies, your learners would like to interview some of their residents for class publications. Ask them to recommend residents that would be appropriate for learners to interview.
- Collect a variety of biographies from the school library, newspaper, and magazine articles to keep in your room during the project.
- Read learners an appropriate biography, such as the Caldecott winner, Lincoln: A Photobiography. After reading it, ask learners to discuss the Focus Question: What makes a biography interesting? Ask them to analyze what details about Lincoln’s life the author did not include in the book and discuss possible reasons why the author did not include them. Make a T-chart on the board listing the details from the discussion with possible reasons and, with learners input, also list the details that were included in the book with possible reasons why they were included.
- Place learners in small groups and give each group several newspaper and magazine articles about people. Ask each learner to choose an article to read silently. After they have finished reading, have them write in their journals about the Focus Question: How are we all unique? and discuss their biographies with a small group.
- In a large group, ask learners to add to the T-Chart on the board. Ask them to think about why some details might be important in one person’s biography but not important in another. Ask learners to discuss the question: Do you have to be famous to be important or interesting?
- Tell the learners that they are going to interview some people in a local nursing home or senior centre to find out what is important about them, write biographies, and then put all the articles together into a magazine.
- As learners read biographies during their silent reading time, they write in their journals about how the people in the biographies are like them and like people they know, and make creative responses to their reading, such as art projects and extended writing.
- Tell learners that they are now going to begin to write biographies that will go in a magazine. Pair learners with partners for the interviewing experience. Place learners in small groups and ask the partners to role-play the interview while the group members fill out the Practice Interview Feedback form to help them improve their interviewing techniques. Before learners go to the nursing home to conduct their interviews, give them the Interview Checklist to remind them of what they need to have and do before and during the interview.
- Interview residents at nursing home and take pictures with a digital camera.
- Support learners throughout the writing of the biographical articles with informal questioning, learner-led writing meetings, and peer writing groups. Ask learners to use the Learner-Teacher Meeting Preparation Guide to prepare for their learner-teacher writing meeting. Provide the Magazine Article Checklist to help learners write their articles and the Magazine Article Rubric to make sure the article is high quality. When learners meet in writing groups, ask them to use the Peer Writing Feedback form to help them provide useful feedback to each other. Encourage learners to also get feedback from friends and family.
- When learners have finished writing their biographies and begin to put together the magazine, ask them to use the Group Magazine Checklist to make sure they manage their time wisely and the Magazine Rubric to guide the quality of their work.
- Have a celebration where the learners share their magazines with the people they interviewed.
- Ask learners to write a final reflection to think about what they learned from this project and set goals for future projects.
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