Creating a Life Map
- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
Students will introduce themselves and share the accomplishments of which they are proud. They will also creatively express themselves through the development of their Life Map.
- Classify and organize information in sequential order.
- Engage in peer conferencing to gain feedback.
- Generate drafts to develop a topic for a specific audience and/or purpose.
- Develop an extended response around a central idea, using relevant supporting details.
- Chronicle the main events from their life thus far.
- Draft, revise, and publish a personal narrative.
- Manila drawing paper or white printer paper
- Crayons, markers, or other decorative instruments
- Notebook paper
- Rubric for Life Map (PDF) printable
Set Up and Prepare
- Copy a class set of the Rubric for Life Map.
- Organize your work area in your classroom so that students can access crayons and markers.
This activity is used to allow students a chance to express themselves, introduce themselves, and provide a baseline for writing assessment for the teacher. I divided up this plan assuming each day's minilesson would take about 20 minutes, but you may want to organize your lessons differently depending on your class schedule.
Step 1: Begin by telling the students a short anecdote from your own childhood. Pick one you can describe with vivid imagery and details to model voice and word choice.
Step 2: Direct students to brainstorm important events from their own life. Have students use notebook paper and a pencil to write, "I remember…" and finish the sentence. Give the class 3 minutes to write as many "I remember" statements. Challenge them to keep writing until you say, "Stop."
Step 3: Tell the students to pick 10 main events from the list and put each in chronological order.
Step 4: Distribute drawing paper. Have the students write the 10 main events in a map format. Remind the students that this is not a timeline but a map, meaning the events can be organized in any way on the paper as long as the line of time connects each in order. Students should do this in pencil first as a rough draft. To make this activity a little more challenging, give the students a task of assigning a symbol or icon to each event. For example, if in May of 1998 he/she went sailing for the first time, a picture of a sailboat could be included next to the description of the event.
Step 5: As each student finishes the rough draft, distribute the Rubric for Life Map printable. This will give the students direction in the assessment of the assignment.
Step 6: Have the students publish the life map according to the requirements on the Rubric, coloring over the pencil draft.
Step 7: Instruct students to choose one event from the map upon which to elaborate.
Step 8: Have students list the details they remember from this one event then put that list in chronological order. This will act as the prewriting for the personal narrative.
Step 9: Instruct students to now write a rough draft of the personal narrative describing the details of this main event. Remind them to include feelings and sensory details to the story to make it interesting.
Step10: Have each student find a partner and share rough drafts of the personal narrative. In this peer conference, each student will read his/her partner's narrative and form 3 questions about the piece. For example, "What do you mean by …?" "How old were you when this happened?" "How did you feel when that happened?" Students should formulate questions that can direct the writer to include details that the audience may want to know. (You may want to repeat this step a few times depending on how well your students are able to revise their own writing.)
Step 11: Students will take suggestions from peers and revise the narrative either in class or at home. At this point, any student who is ready to publish may choose to type his/her narrative or write it in blue/black ink. If any student is unsure about the piece and not ready to publish, he/she should be given the choice to work with the teacher, with a small peer group, or the whole class. This process should continue until the student is ready to publish.
Step 12: Once the writing is published, display the maps and the narratives. Both make excellent displays for Open House!
Supporting All Learners
- If a student struggles with drawing allow him/her to use the computer. Students could use computer programs like "Inspiration," "Microsoft Paint," or even "Microsoft Publisher" to create an electronic Life Map.
- If a student does not speak fluent English, have the student complete a Life Map in pictures only. Afterwards, through one-on-one conferencing, assist the student in transcribing the events on the map.
- To differentiate instruction, allow a student to include more or less events on the map. Involve the student in creating the comparable rubric.
- Parents may assist with students putting events in order.
- Parents may remind students of the dates for certain events that students are not able to remember.
- Parents should be able to see the Life Map at some point when it is finished. Encourage discussion between the parent and the child by asking the parents to write a note to the child about their journey to adolescence. You can create a template for this response or allow parents to use notebook paper or stationary.
- Students create a Life Map of 10 main events from his/her own life.
- Students pick one of the events and elaborate by writing a personal narrative.
Make sure the students organized the events into a map and not a timeline. Observe the writing process as thoroughly as possible. If you see a complete progression from the brainstorming to the publishing, then most likely your students have created an authentic baseline assessment.
Use the rubric to establish a baseline assessment of each student's writing ability.