Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bountiful Bios!

We have been working hard over the past few weeks on a biography unit. We studied the characteristics of this type of text, work to identify examples and information learned by reading several bios as a class and in small groups, and recently culiminated our unit by authoring our own super bios!

To gather information for our biographies we went straight to the source - the dual language staff of our building. I did this activity for the first time last year and it was a hit! Not only does it give my students the opportunity to gather info. from a primary source, but also, it gives them the opportunity to get to know teachers that they have had or may have in the future a little better! Plus it enabled my kiddos to do all of their interviewing in Spanish!

Here are their final pieces hanging in the pod (this is my building's lingo for the area in between a group of classrooms ;)).

And a few up close...

Finally, to give my students continued opportunities to read and reflect on a variety of biographies, I created a biography reflection page that has been added to their "Read to Self" center for students to utilize post reading a new biography. After the student hands it in, I have been placing them all in a binder in our student created book bin in the classroom so that others can read the facts they have learned about a variety of important people as well....and maybe it will even lead them to want to pick up the bio themselves!

Here is an example of the reflection sheet completed by one of my kiddos (she went a little above and beyond I must say!):

I photocopy my reflection sheet with Spanish on one side and English on the other so the student can choose which side to use based on the language of the biography they read. Both can be downloaded for free by clicking on the image of the sheet below.  Font by Kimberly Geswein and border by Creative Clips. Enjoy!


  1. Replies
    1. The kids always really enjoy it, and it is such a great experience for them to get to know the teachers they work with better! Thanks for the comment!

  2. Hi, Krista--

    I happened upon your blog on the Fifth in the Middle Blog that lists blogs by state. I too am a second grade teacher in Illinois! I enjoyed reading this bio post, as I will be doing a biography unit as well after returning from spring break. I love the idea of interviewing staff members and would love to hear more about how you coordinated the interviews and what kids of questions your kids focused on. I would love to integrate this idea into the unit! Again, thanks for this post, and I will be back often. :0)

    1. I am so glad that the post will be useful for you. It is one of my favorite units each year! I usually send out an email to all of our dual language teachers a few weeks before the unit and ask who would like to participate and times they have available through the day. After I have the times I coordinate a schedule for one day in which small groups of students can meet with a teacher at a table area in the hall to conduct the interview. The day of the interviews I give each of students a post-it with the time their teacher will be arriving and have them stick them on their desks to refer to throughout the day. I would say that I try to make it a day where nothing that I do not want students to miss is being taught as they are kind of in and out all day.

      Prior to the interviews we have already completed our biography reading unit and discussed what typical biographies usually contain. We brainstorm a list of basic questions to ask the teachers based on categories such as "childhood" "adult life" "contributions", "other interesting facts" etc., and then they practice who is going to read which question before meeting with their teacher. The students write the answers on their paper as the teacher shares.

      Hope this makes sense and helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  3. I love this idea! What a great way for kids to get to know one another, while sharing what is important to them and getting them involved in literacy. I am a senior bilingual education major at Illinois State University and cannot wait to finally get in the classroom once and for all! I love visiting your blog and Instagram every day; it gets me more excited and passionate about what's to come! Thanks for sharing!