Writing an Autobiography
- Grades: 9–12
- Unit Plan:
- Write a strong introduction for their autobiography.
- Write a sequence of events using their Life Map as a graphic organizer.
- Write facts accurately reflecting their Life Map.
- Visualize the writing process through guided imagery.
- Utilize the peer editing process.
- Students' Life Maps from Lesson One of this Unit Plan
- Autobiography Rubric (PDF)
- Peer Editing Checklist (PDF)
Set Up and Prepare
On the board, write following prompts: Answer the following sentences in two sentences or less:
- If I could live anywhere and any way I wanted, I would…
- If I could be anything I wanted, I would…
- If I could do anything I wanted, whenever I wanted, I would…
Write the following on another board: Answer the following sentences in two sentences or less:
- Where are you five years from now?
- Twenty years from now?
- Thirty-five years from now?
- Fifty years from now?
Prepare Reproducibles: Autobiography Rubric (PDF) and Peer Editing Checklist (PDF). Prepare a wall for display.
Step 1: Remind students that an autobiography contains information about one's own life written by that one person. Remind students of the various autobiography titles you have been reading throughout this unit and discuss how each author told their own story.
Step 2: Distribute each student's Life Map. Explain that they will complete one more pre-writing assignment before drafting their autobiography. Have them use their Life Map to answer the questions on the board. Tell the students that they will be able to use their answers to those questions when writing their autobiographies as a helpful organizer. Discuss the possible answers. Use your own responses as an example. Instruct them to complete each sentence. Collect written responses and Life Maps.
Step 3: Review the writing process with the students and distribute the written responses from the previous day and Life Maps. Share with the students that they will begin their autobiography drafts today, that they are just collecting all their thoughts, and need not worry about doing everything correctly.
Step 4: Remind the students that each pictogram they drew represents a paragraph in their autobiography and they need to incorporate their pictograms from their Life Maps and their responses from their written work into their draft. Brainstorm a variety of strong introductory sentences with the students.
Step 5: Have the students begin their autobiography drafts, to just write their ideas on paper. Give the students the Autobiography Rubric. Explain to the students that these are the requirements for the assignment. Explain the grading process: you will circle the boxes that they earned in the rubric and write their total score at the bottom.
Step 6: Monitor the students to make sure they are on task. Collect all work at the end of the class.
Step 7: Pass back all material. Allow for additional drafting time. Upon completion, instruct students to do a "re-read" of their draft and make any initial changes before the peer editing process. Then have each choose a partner for the next steps of the writing process - revising and editing. Distribute the Peer Editing Checklist to each student. Have each partner use the Checklist as a guide while they read each other's draft and make suggestions for revisions. Then, each must do a final read of their own, making sure all the items on the Checklist have been satisfied. Finally, instruct them to publish their final drafts. If possible and time allows, you may want to have them publish their autobiographies using word processing, a slideshow, Hyper Studio application.
Step 8: Once you collect the autobiographies, use another copy of the rubric to grade their projects. Ask the students how they would like to display their autobiographies, on the bulletin board, etc. This will help create a sense of ownership in your classroom.
Supporting All Learners
Teacher one-on-one time is necessary in order to complete this assignment when working with Special Education and Second Language Learners.
If time allows, hold a writing conference with each student and grade the autobiography together, using the rubric provided. Focus on the strengths of the piece, trying not to overwhelm the student and contribute to any anxiety.
- Let the students take their autobiography home and share with their families.
- To extend the publishing process, students can bring personal portraits and special memorabilia from home to display with their autobiographies.
- Complete questions from board to be used in written autobiography.
- Write an autobiography.
Does the classroom look more inviting with the student work posted? Do you feel that you know your students any better? Were you able to lower their writing anxiety levels? Did the visual imagery exercise allow the students to better understand how they approach any writing tasks?
Use the rubric to guide your grading. Assess how each student was able to follow the writing process.