Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Autobiography Writing Lesson Ideas

Recently I have taught a section on writing autobiographies from my text book. Alot of the activities were textbook based, so I am unable to share them here, however alot of the activities could be used in any lesson about Autobiographies. I will aslo explain the textbook activities as it would be easy to creat your own material for most of them.

Lesson One
The focus of the first lesson was titles and blurbs. After explaining what a title and a blurb is the first activity I did was to chooses five famous peoples biographys/autobiographies, blank out the faces/names and ask the students to read the title/blurb and try to guess who it was. They certainly enjoyed this activity a lot and it got them thinking about the importance of titles/blurbs.

The students had to guess who each book is about by reading the title/blurb.
I then uncovered three of the books (Obama, Nelson Mandela and Ronaldo) and asked the students to think about why the writer chose the name for the book. I explained that titles and blurbs can hint at the story, themes and ideas behing the book. For example Ronaldo's biography has the blurb 'The obsession for perfection.' Most students managed to come up with something along the lines of 'This book talks about how Ronaldo worked really hard to become one of the best football players in the world."

The students then had to do some activities from the textbook, including writing a title and blurb for their own biography.

After this we played a game were each group had to read someone's title and blurb. The other groups had to guess who it belonged to.

Lesson Two.

Lesson two started with a game of twentyone questions using famous people. The students love this game and if they are not talking they are listening intently to what others are saying. It also had the effect of getting the students to think about important points in peoples lives, which is what the rest of the lesson focuses on.

The students then had to make a mind map about their life, this was split into four categories; education, career, important moments and people who influenced you. I explained that as my students are only in high school they should pretend they are about to retire and look back on what they have acheived in their life.

The students then did a textbook activity where they were given example sentences about the categories above, and they had to fill in their own experiences. Obviously I can't copy the sentences to here, but I'm sure you could easily think of your own! These sentences then formed the spine of the autobiography they write in lesson four.

Lesson Three.

Lesson three focused on more pre writing activities. Only it structured them into an introduction, a main body and a reflection on their life. Each section had a choice of three different example questions that the students could adapt to fit their experience.

To practise this we did an activity writing about famous movie characters lives. With the class split into groups of six students, I gave each person in the group a character to write about. The first sentence was the introduction, each student had three minutes to use an example sentence to write an introduction to the characters life. The students then swapped papers and had to write the second sentence. This continued untill each character had an introduction sentence, three main body sentences and a reflection sentence. The students then wrote a title and blurb before sharing their group autobiographies with the class.

The characters I used were Bella (Twilight), Hermione, Elsa, Chang Mi Ran (Korean weightlifter), a climber and the man who holds the world record for the longest nails.

Lesson Four.

In lesson four the students had the whole lesson to write an autobiography for their future selves, including everything they had learnt previously. It included: a title, blurb, picture and a main body. If any students finished early I asked them to read each others and answer these three questions: What is your favourite part, what do you want to know more about and what advice can you give the person to help them acheive their goals.

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