Friday, November 16, 2007

How to teach about Biography Books

In my first year of being a media specialist I was asked to teach a lesson on what a biography is to some 4th graders. The assignment for the students was to read a biography and then do a report on it and then they also had to write an autobiography (this was the teachers assignment, not mine). So I set out looking for a way to make biographies seem interesting. I found in an old Judy Freeman seminar book (one of those BER seminars) that someone had given me, a lesson for biography hash. It seemed like a good lesson that I could tweek a little for my purposes and time constraints.

The result was Biography Stew. SO each year I dress in a chef hat and apron, call myself Chef Schmidt (say that 5x fast) and we cook up a biography stew. I have listed the ingredients below that we add to a big pot one by one, with me explaining why this ingredient goes into a biography. I also explain to the kids that not all the ingredients go into all biographies. The best part of the lesson for the kids is that they get to EAT the stew (which looks surprisingly like a trail mix). The best part of the lesson for me is that after this, the kids actually seek out biographies to read.

Biography Stew Ingredients

Yellow Raisins: Represent the person’s birth date and place
Corn Chex: Represent family members, because some family members can be a bit corny sometimes
Goldfish Crackers: Represent childhood and school life, because fish gather in schools
Bugles: Represent hobbies, interests and activities, because sometimes we like to blow our own horns
Pretzels: Represent anecdotes, because all people have interesting stories in their lives, with twists and turns, ups and downs, just like a pretzel.
Chocolate chips: Represents career, because when a person makes a lot of money or has good fortune, we say that he/she is “in the chips”
Cheerios: Represent the reasons for fame, because we cheer a famous person’s successes.
M&M’s : Represents later life/old age, because the M&M’s stand for More Mature
Black Raisins: Represents death, because we become shriveled and then the lights go out.

I guess I should also mention, I like this lesson SO much, it contributed to the name of this blog!


Kim said...

Love, love, LOVE this idea... I'm going to give it a try soon! Thank you!!!!!

Terri said...

I just asked my parents to bring in the ingredients. Can't wait to try this with my third graders.