Autobiography, Biography, Personal Narrative, and Memoir
Lesson plans and teaching ideas, page 2
"The Making of a Scientist" by Richard Feynman
By reading and rereading the passage closely, and focusing their reading through a series of questions and discussion about the text, students will identify how and why Feynman started to look at the world through the eyes of a scientist. When combined with writing about the passage, students will discover how much they can learn from a memoir. Designed for grade 6. Word processor required.
Memoir: The Stuff of Our Lives
In this extensive unit students explore the genre of memoir. They will see that writers write about the ordinary happenings of their lives and that their own lives are packed with meaningful experiences and memories that can form the basis of their own writing. Students will be encouraged to reflect upon the significance of remembered events and to keep a "notebook" of their thoughts and feelings.
This unit plan for personal memoirs includes clear, careful directions; resources; and a rubric.
Obituary: Val Patterson
Before Val Patterson died, he wrote his own obituary. Funny, tender, moving, and sincere, it could serve as a model for student writing.
Personal Narrative and Digital Storytelling
A teacher details her planning for a classroom multimedia unit on personal narrative. Adobe Reader required for access.
Picturing the Past: Writing Memory Stories from Meaningful Photographs
"Students consider family photos brought in by their peers. They then individually consider a significant personal photograph and write a memory story about it."
Portraits: Written and Visual
In this unit plan students study the life of Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain using a portrait from the Smithsonian's National portrait Gallery, a commemorative stamp from the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, a piece of autobiographical writing, and an abridged passage from a novel. This lesson from the Smithsonian Institute is designed for upper elementary students. It can be adapated for study of a different author.
Putting Personality on Paper: Writing About People Using Times Models
How does a writer get beyond basic facts and events to write about people in a captivating yet concise way? What elements and details make for an interesting profile? This lesson offers some examples of ways you can use The New York Times as a model for writing about people.
Senior Memory Book
A 16-week unit resulting in an autobiography. This project is designed for seniors but could be adapted to other grade levels. Click on the title for details.
Teaching Through Biographies
Some ideas for interdisciplinary approaches, including rubrics.
This I Believe
A teacher's guide to writing the personal essays that form the NPR series.
Voices from the Field
This collection of first-person narratives from Peace Corps volunteers comes with lesson plans designed for grades 7-12. This is an outstanding set of materials!
Write Your Autobiography
This interactive site helps students select details, organize ideas, and write.
Writing a Character Sketch
This activity includes a model and graphic organizer.
Writing the Biographical Sketch
Working in pairs, students interview each other in order to collect information about their partners. They will practice the writing process as they write biographical sketches which incorporate scanned pictures. This lesson plan includes models; it is designed for grades 3-5.
These 55 outstanding reflective writing prompts are designed for high school sophomores. Most are autobiographical in nature. They are presented in 3 formats: Web page, MS-Word document, and PDF file (requires Adobe Reader for access).
Writing Prompts for Personal Narratives
Twenty wide-ranging prompts.