Who Am I?
- Grades: 9–12
This lesson is best used within an "identity" unit, or as a means to learn about your students at the beginning of the school year. Your students will be able to write autobiographical essays highlighting how their life experiences and the individuals in their lives have helped them develop into who they are today. This is taught via explicit modeling. Therefore, although a sample model essay is included, it is a good idea to write your own autobiographical essay to better connect with your students.
- Students will be able to create autobiographical essays.
- Students will be able to use appropriate adjectives to describe themselves.
- Students will be able to use a graphic organizer to plan their written pieces.
- "Who Am I" graphic organizer (PDF) for each student
- Model "Who Am I" essay (PDF) for each student
- Essay rubric (PDF) for each student
- Exit slip (PDF) for each student
- Transparency paper
- Overhead projector
Set Up and Prepare
- Write or print the following student task on transparency paper.
Write a well-organized autobiographical essay that tells all about you. Title the piece ‘Who Am I?’ or create your own title. Include details on your:
- Likes and Dislikes
- Goals and Aspirations
- Life-changing Experiences
- Either print one copy of the "Who Am I" model essay for each student or create your own essay. The latter is recommended to serve as a means of better connecting with your students. If you decide to create your own autobiographical essay, you will have to complete a copy of the graphic organizer and print it on transparency paper. Otherwise, print a copy of the attached model graphic organizer onto transparency paper.
- Print copies of the rubric, graphic organizer, exit slip, and model essay for each student.
- Warm Up – Have students answer the following: What is one word or phrase that you would use to describe yourself? What person or experience do you think made you that way?
- Read Aloud – Inform students that you will be reading a brief piece that will allow them to learn a bit more about you. Read aloud your model autobiographical essay.
- Mini Lesson – Reveal and explain the task to students (listed in the "Set Up and Prepare" section above). Distribute the writing to inform rubric (PDF), blank graphic organizers, and the model essay (PDF) to the students. Next, review the rubric with the class and make sure that all students understand the requirements of the task. Place the transparency containing the model graphic organizer (PDF) on the overhead projector. Then explain how to complete each section of the organizer.
- Guided Practice – Have students complete the first two sections of the graphic organizer (personality and family).
- Independent Practice – Students will fill in the remainder of the graphic organizer independently.
Supporting All Learners
Use the attached "Who Am I" slide presentation (PDF) to scaffold your struggling learners.
- Set students up in partnerships and have them conduct peer revising and editing.
- Plan a publishing party to celebrate student writing. If possible, invite parents and staff. Post student writing throughout the room and allow time for guests to peruse. Allow a few students to orally present their pieces.
Students will ask parents, older siblings, and other members of their household the following question: "How do you feel that living with you influences me?" Instruct students to use the responses of their family members to add details to their "Who Am I" essays.
- Students use completed graphic organizers to write the first draft of their "Who Am I" essays.
- Students use thesauruses to revise their first drafts to make essays more engaging.
Students complete "exit slips" (PDF) at the conclusion of the lesson.
Use the attached "writing to inform" rubric (PDF) to assess student writing.