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Biography Writing with Patricia & Frederick McKissack: A Writing With Writers Activity

In Scholastic’s four-step workshop, two award-winning writers help students develop and publish their own biographies.



3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Activity Type

  • Writing Activities
  • Book Resources

In the Biography Writing with Patricia & Frederick McKissack activity (grades 4–12), students learn to write a biography. The McKissacks, winners of the Coretta Scott King award, provide students with a warm-up exercise, genre-specific tips, and an example of a biographical sketch written by them.


The four-step workshop includes:


Step 1: A Biographical Sketch of Frederick Douglass

The authors share the very rough first draft of a book they wrote about Frederick Douglass, and how it evolved into a final draft.


Step 2: Brainstorming

The McKissacks offer 10 tips to help students with their research and writing, including: select a subject you care about, read an article about your subject, be as accurate as possible, and tell a good story.


Step 3: Write Your Own Biography

Time to get started! These three tips help students craft a biographical sketch – a written piece about a person's life, focusing on one incident that defines who she or he is.


Step 4: Publish Online

Once students are done writing and revising, they can submit their final products to for publishing!


Plus, students can Read Student Writing, which shares dozens of biographies that others have written.



Learning Objectives

While participating in the "Biography Writing with Patricia and Frederick McKissack" activity, students will:


  • Follow the writing process to create original writing.
  • Use web technology to post original writing online.
  • Understand how to review and revise their own writing.
  • Learn to think critically and objectively about their reading.
  • Learn to review and revise their own writing.
  • Produce written work to show evidence of knowledge of the different genres.

Susan Cheyney

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