Thursday, May 2, 2013


I'm really embarassed about how long it's been since last I blogged, but oh, well.  What are you gonna do?  

Anywho. . . 

Last year I did a week long project where we wrote biographies of each other in our class, to practice writing expositories for our last district common assessment.  One of the major benefits of being a teacher of the same grade year after year is that I can make better what I've done before.  I tweaked what we did last year with biographies and am in the middle of doing this project again, even better than before.  

Here's my revamped version if you want to check it out at TPT.  Just click on the picture below: 

Last year I gave students a list of questions on a small piece of paper for them to interview each other with.  This year I revamped it into a set of questions that they could cut out as little cards to interview with.  I think it helped them have a bit more room to record each other's answers on and it felt more fun than a typical "worksheet".  

Another difference from last year to this year is that last year we wrote the biographies as a long paragraph and this year I'm letting them either write a long paragraph or a multi-paragraph essay, for those kiddos that are ready for that next step.  Since I teach second, I really focus on writing complete sentences and using them in 5-sentence paragraphs but some of my kids just have so much more to say in their writing than the standard 5 sentences.  So to differentiate, I am doing both.  I actually modeled planning both versions to everyone and let them choose which version to use.  I even let them change their mind if they got into their planning and realized that they had too much or too little for the planning they started with.

One other change is that I'm going to let them choose to either write their biography on traditional lined paper, with a spot for a picture of their subject OR they can write it as a little booklet.  I wonder how many will choose what.  I'm betting a lot will want to do the booklets but we'll see.

I don't know how you go through writing projects like this but I've modeled each step of the way with my own biography about our interim principal.  I had him come in to be interviewed while my students listened.  I am really lucky to have a document camera, Smartboard and projector, so I showed how I took quick notes under the document camera.  If you don't have a document camera, you should hit your boss up for real.  

The next day I took my interview notes and my planning page (basically a web) and showed how to pick out details to plan my paragraph.  I also demonstrated how to plan for a multi-paragraph piece using another graphic organizer.

The next day I used my iPad to take a picture of each planning page and put that picture in a Smart Notebook document so I could have it right on the screen while I wrote my rough draft.  I modeled writing my single paragraph writing for the whole class but for this part, I only showed the people who had planned for a multi-paragraph how to take their planning and turn it into their rough draft with the multiple paragraphs.

So far, so good.  I'm really excited to see how these rough drafts turn into their final pieces.  If I can be a good little blogger, I'll take pictures and post them on a later post but I make no promises.  

Do you ever write biographies with your kids?  What other expository writing do you do with your class?

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