Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Who Me? A Writer?

Vicky Nichols
Bay District Schools


Students gain information from an interview and organize the information in order to create a three-part biography of the person they interviewed. This is a good lesson to do the first month of school.


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 listens and uses information gained for a variety of purposes, such as gaining information from interviews, following directions, and pursuing a personal interest.


-Colored paper for booklet
-Drawing paper for booklet

Optional materials:
-Word processing program such as Microsoft Word
-Drawing program such as Paintbrush
-Book binding machine
-Book binders


1. Collect materials
2. Collect lots of magazines, catalogs, etc.
3. Establish rules for indicating that the interviewing is too loud.
4. Establish rules for clean-up on the day students create their collages.


1. Gain the students' attention by telling them that they are official biographers as of today. Explain that writing biographies is a real world career and writers often make a great deal of money and can achieve fame through their writing.

2. Present the lesson objectives to the students by telling them that they will write the biography of someone in the class. It will consist of three parts--a narrative, a picture, and a poem. Their grades will be determined by a list of criteria which will be given to them prior to the actual writing of the biography.

3. Relate to the student's present knowledge of biographies by asking them how one obtains firsthand knowledge about another person. Answers should include watching and interviewing.

4. Engage students in learning:
A. Students create a list of 20 open-ended questions to ask their partners. Caution them to stay away from questions that elicit yes or no answers.
B. Assign students their partners to interview. (I usually do not let students choose partners for this activity because they will choose friends with whom they are already familiar.)
C. Allow partners to interview each other with their questions. Remind them to take good notes and listen well.
(At this point, give students the assessment criteria for their grades.)
D. Students write narratives of their partners using the information gained in the interview. Remind them that they need to be creative in the narrative and shouldn't just list the information. Showing several examples helps to illustrate this for the students.
E. Students create collages of their partners by drawing an outline of something that represents the person, then filling in with magazine pictures that represent other information about the person. For example, a biographer may draw the outline of a guitar or a football, then fill it in with pictures of the person's favorite foods, hobbies, etc. Students may use a drawing program to create the outline.
F. Students create a poem that is representative of the person. Students can use a poetic form such as an acrostic, diamante, etc., or they may write their own poetry.
G. Students design the cover of the biography making themselves the writer and the illustrator.

5. Provide for student practice by allowing them to ask for help in proofreading or clarification of facts. Students familiar with a word-processing program can use the computer to create their narratives.

Provide feedback for the students by allowing the person about whom the booklet was written to -critique- it.

Celebrate the students' achievements by having them share their books in a small group setting.


Student Self-Assessment:
1. Did I ask at least 20 questions that were open-ended?
2. Did I take notes carefully enough so that I could use the information to write my narrative?
3. Is my narrative creative and interesting to read?
4. Are there three parts to my biography-narrative, picture, poem?
5. Did I revise and edit before making a final copy?
6. After looking at his biography, will my partner confirm that the information contained in it is correct?

Teacher Assessment:
7. Did the student use the prewriting strategies of creating questions and conducting an interview before writing the narrative?
8. Did the student use the information gained from the interview to write a creative but accurate biography of his partner?
9. Do the picture and poem adequately portray the information gained in the interview?
10. Did the student follow specific directions in creating the biography?

Each question answered with a 'yes' is worth 1 point. Questions answered with a 'no' are worth 0 points. Note: I usually allow students to correct errors and redo or fix criteria not met. Most students want their biographies to be factual and correct.
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