Teaching Students to Write Biographies

Writing is becoming a HUGE part of every subject with the new GMAS (Georgia Milestones Assessment System) coming. For the past three years I have incorporated writing into my instruction of historical figures. In third grade we teach 9 historical figures and with each one my students become more independent in their writing of biographies. Here is how I scaffold my students through this writing adventure:

1. We complete a bubble map (think maps) together, number the facts in chronological order, and write one sentence per fact in order.

Bubble Map
2. Students complete the bubble map alone (SPED students are given facts and assistance in ordering them). After they have 8 facts I check to make sure they are accurate. Then students number them in their own. I check that also. Then we write our biography together. We are able to do this because we all have the same facts. I give them 12 facts and they simply have to figure out which 8 are true to our historical figure.
3. Students generate their own 8 facts, order them, and write 8 sentences on their own. I check their work in between each step to ensure they are working in the right direction.
4. We complete a double bubble map together. This helps students start to see how we can write two paragraphs on a person’s life. We number the facts within each bubble map and write those facts into sentences in order.


(This double bubble map does NOT have to be connected. Students could simply have two separate bubble maps if need be.)

5. We complete a double bubble map together. Students then number the facts in order and write their two paragraphs.
6. Students complete a double bubble map, number their facts, and write their 2 paragraph biographies.
7. We complete a triple bubble map together, number the facts, and the students write their biographies from this.

8. We complete a triple bubble map together, students number the facts and write their biographies.

9. Students create their triple bubble map, number their facts, and write their 3 paragraph biography.

The great thing about this process is that now each student has a piece of writing on each historical figure, but they also have a deep understanding of chronological order and factual writing. I allow the students to use every resource in the classroom as long as they do not copy sentences from these sources.

ESOL students struggle with the idea of turning the facts into complete sentences. I work with my teaching partner on helping them write COMPLETE sentences.

One of my favorite resources for teaching all of this was created by #rd Grade Gridiron BUT she no longer has it on her TpT store (sorry šŸ˜¦ ). I give my SPED students these maps each time and allow them to work with my para-pro. Some of these students do elevate to being able to write 8 sentences completely in their own by the end of the year and that is great! It important to know your kids and understand what they can do.



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