Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Story of My Life

Cynthia Youngblood
Santa Rosa District Schools

Description

Students respond to daily autobiographical assignments that will be published into a book.

Objectives

The student organizes information before writing according to the type and purpose of writing.

The student drafts and revises writing that -is focused, purposeful, reflects insight into the writing situation;-conveys a sense of completeness and wholeness with adherence to the main idea;-has an organizational pattern that provide for a logical progression of ideas;-has support that is substantial, specific, revelant, concrete, and/or illustrative;-demonstrates a commitment to and an involvement with the subject;-has clarity in presentation of ideas;uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the purpose of the paper;demonstrates a command of language (word choice) with freshness of expression;has varied sentence structure and sentences that are complete except when fragments are used and purposefully; andhas few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation.

The student produces final documents that have been edited for-correct spelling;-correct punctuation, including commas, colons, and semicolons;-correct common usage, including subject/verb agreement, common noun/pronoun agreement, common possessive forms, and with a variety of sentence structures,including parallel structure; and-correct formatting.

Materials

-Borg, Mary. WRITING YOUR LIFE; AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WRITING ACTIVITIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE. Fort Collins, Colorado: Cottonwood Press, 1989.
-Pen
-Pencil
-Paper
-Pictures of students
-Optional materials:
-Printer
-Computer
-Computer graphics
-Scrapbook supplies
-Plastic, spiral binding or three-ring binder or plastic cover

Websites for historical information on birthday:
(http: tako.wwa.com/~mjm/almanac2.html)
(http://www.historychannel.com/tdih/index.html)

Preparations

1. Obtain a copy of the book WRITING YOUR LIFE by Mary Borg. The author gives permission to photocopy any of the materials in the book for your own classroom use. (See materials list for address information.)
2. Write your own autobiography to share as a model for students.
3. Check to see if there is binding equipment available. If so, obtain plastic, spiral bindings from an office supply.

Procedures

1. Initiate a discussion with students that the teenage years are a time when students are extremely self-focused and are often extremely confused. Stress that teenagers are sometimes self-absorbed and unsure of themselves. Explain to students that young men and women who have written autobiographies report that writing and -publishing- their life stories for family and friends is an incredibly rewarding experience, including satisfaction and pride involved in writing a book; healing because no matter how old we are, we are all searching for identity, meaning, and purpose in our lives; and self-discovery because people who write about their lives also learn about themselves.

2. Give students the autobiography assignment. Using WRITING YOUR LIFE, students respond to daily autobiographical writing assignments, a complete writing assignment in itself, throughout the school year that they save and rewrite to put into a “published” book during the last month of class. (Students might type entries and bind books with a plastic, spiral binding.)

3. Review daily topics that they will be assigned each day for several weeks:
“Before You Were Born”
“Family Tree”
“Making an Entrance”
“On Your Birthday”
“Before You Started to School”
“Your Early School Years”
“You and the Outside World”
“Special Times”
“A Few Good Dates”
“Your Family”
“Being Your Age”
“Thoughts on Friendship”
“Thoughts on Romance, Love, Marriage”
“Brag Page”
“Life Messages”
“Likes and Dislikes”
“Thoughts about Serious Subjects”
“Life’s Highs and Lows”
“Who Are You, Really?”
“The Future”

4. Instruct students to make their final books as interesting as possible with photographs, drawings, and momentos of their lives. (To find material, go through old pictures, scrapbooks, letters, photo albums, programs, or “junk.” Students create their own drawings to illustrate some pages or incorporate computer graphics. Students should use their imaginations to make the books as inviting as possible.)

5. Inform students that there will be several pages that they will need to complete their autobiographies: a title page (catchy title), a dedication (to whom would you like to dedicate your book?), an acknowledgment (a statement acknowledging anyone who gave you particular help in preparing your book), and a table of contents (the chapter titles and the page numbers on which they begin).

6. Students edit daily entries, making any major changes they wish to make, perhaps deleting material, adding material, moving paragraphs around, and/or reorganizing.

7. Students proofread books and make corrections necessary in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure, etc.

8. Teacher aids students in the publishing of autobiographies. Autobiographies can be bound in a plastic, spiral binder or students might simply put entries in a three-ring notebook or clear, plastic folder.

9. Evaluate autobiographies. (See assessment.)

Assessments

The students' writing is assessed using the following as either acceptable or unacceptable:
Title page
Dedication page
Acknowledgments
Table of contents
Body of autobiography

STANDARDS:
The student organizes information before writing according to the type and purpose of writing.

The student drafts and revises writing that is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situation; conveys a sense of completeness and wholeness with adherence to the main idea; has an organizational pattern.

The student produces final documents that have been edited for correct spelling, correct punctuation, correct capitalization, and effective sentence structure.

Student who have an unacceptable in any area or on any skills in the standards, should be given additional feedback and time to correct before reassessing.

Extensions

With autobiographical writing, students can become involved in writing that is meaningful to them, probably the most meaningful writing they have ever done. It will be helpful to send a handout home to parents, explaining the project and encouraging their cooperation. Parents and other relatives are very helpful in helping students find out about family history and in telling them stories about times they were too young to remember. As they interview parents, grandparents, and other relatives, they will get a better sense of the people who came before them. They will also find out more about themselves as they ask about their own childhoods. They almost always find out stories they never heard before-stories that usually please them and make them feel important.

Web Links

Web supplement for The Story of My Life
Almanac

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