Everyday People, Everyday Things: Book of your Life Lesson Plan Grades 6-8
Interviews with artists reveal that they are inspired by a combination of people they know and places they've been. Often parents and grandparents, other relatives and friends are acknowledged as influential. This activity utilizes the interview mode made popular by TV hosts (such as Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters) to develop language and speaking skills through formal dialogue and conversation.
National Language Arts Standard 4
Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
National Language Arts Standard 5
Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- Conduct interviews of their classmates.
- Create a brief one-page biography of their interview subject based on the notes gathered from the interview.
- Share their biographies with other students by reading it aloud.
- 'Interview questions' reproducible
- Barkley Hendricks, Lawdy Mama, 1969
- Beauford Delaney, Portrait of a Young Musician, n.d
- Malick Sidibé, Untitled, c. 1974
- Paper and pencils
SET UP AND PREPARE
- Copy 'Interview Questions' reproducible for each student
- Prepare to view images and discuss the concept of 'self image' and 'identity'
- Barkley Hendricks, Lawdy Mama, 1969 (PDF)
- Beauford Delaney, Portrait of a Young Musician, n.d (PDF)
- Malick Sidibè, Untitled, c. 1974 (PDF)
'The Talk Show Host in You'
- As a class, discuss what comprises a 'biography'. Discuss the reasons why one would want to create a biography.
- View the images. Talk about what is a 'self portrait'. References should be made about the differences in the intentions of creating an 'autobiography' or a 'self-portrait' and a 'biography'. Discussion should be encouraged on the value of recording information about a persons' life.
- Have students think about the aspects of someone's life they may be curious about. They should brainstorm these aspects (ex. place and date of birth, family background, talents). Use blackboard and flip charts to record the students brainstorming as a reference for later activity. To further assist students for later activity, create a list of possible questions that would retrieve this type of information.
- Distribute a copy of the 'Interview Questions' reproducible to each student
- Instruct students to create a list of interview questions using the prompts from the reproducible. Remind students to use ideas and questions listed from the group brainstorming as appropriate.
- Divide class into pairs. Instruct students to interview each other using the questions they drafted. Students should also be directed to take notes on the answers to each of their interview questions in preparation to write the biography of their interview subject.
- After students have interviewed each other, provide time for students to draft a one-page biography on their interview subject.
- Ask students to share their biographies with the class by reading what they have written aloud.
- Alternatively, paired students can exchange the biographies they wrote about each other and share feedback with one another.
- At their discretion, students may 'perform' their interview in the form of a 'talk show' in front of the class. The 'Interview Questions' reproducible should also be used for this purpose.
'Portrait without a face'
Using Polaroid cameras, have students take a 'portrait' photo of their interview subject.
The focus of the image can be on any part of the subjects' person, except their face.
Subjects should be given the discretion to include tangible items in their picture that they feel represent themselves. Students may then incorporate the photo into the biography as a ' book cover' .