Write a Biography
Lesson Plan for Grades 6-8
Duration: about 90 minutes (2 class periods)
Objective: Students will research the candidates and write fun biographies in the form of talk-show interviews.
Materials: Meet the Candidates section of Scholastic News Online; Candidate Fact Chart (PDF); Interactive Timeline of Candidates' Lives
Set Up and Prepare: Make copies of the Candidate Fact Chart (PDF).
1. Explore the word "biography" with students. Explain that the word means "writing about life." When we write a biography, we write about a person's life—usually a person who has done something important or interesting. Invite students to tell the class about any biographies they might have read.
2. Explain that students will be researching and writing biographies of the main presidential candidates. But instead of writing traditional essays, they will pretend to be a talk-show host interviewing a candidate. They will write biographical questions that a talk-show host might ask, then, after doing some research, write responses that the candidate might give. Have students choose the candidate they will write about.
3. Distribute a copy of the Candidate Fact Chart (PDF) to each student. Explain that students will begin their biography projects by filling in the chart for the candidate they chose in Step 2. Point out that each box on the chart focuses on an important aspect of the candidate's life.
4. Have students use the resources at Scholastic News Online to research their candidate's life. The "Meet the Candidates" section includes biographical sketches and interviews conducted by kid reporters that students might find especially helpful. Use the Interactive Timeline of Candidates' Lives to gather more facts about each candidate's life, and what was going on the world as they were growing up and moving into their respective Senatorial careers. For the "Other" box on the graphic organizer, encourage students to jot down an interesting fact that does not fall into any of the other categories.
5. When students have completed the fact chart, demonstrate how to use information from a box to create a talk-show-style question and answer. Use this fact box about an imaginary candidate, "Frank Smith," as an example:
Born August 12, 1949
Grew up on farm in Kansas, had chores
Played baseball and other sports
Question: Mr. Smith, what was your childhood like?
Answer: I was born in Kansas on August 12, 1949. I grew up on my parents' farm. I did a lot of chores, but I still had time for my favorite pastime, baseball!
6. Invite students to turn their facts into questions and answers, and create a clean, polished copy on the computer. Encourage them to come up with a creative name for their talk show. They may use their own name for the host or create a fictitious name.
Assess Students: Have students work in pairs to present their biographical interviews to the class.
EXPLORE THE ELECTION ON SCHOLASTIC NEWS ONLINE
Find more resources for teaching election skills here!special report.