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Writing a Biography

Our writing assignment this week is to create a biography. Let's discover what a Biography is and how you can each create one.

Submit your biography at the end of the week by using the online form at:

The HomeSchool Biography Assignment Form

Encarta Encyclopedia defines Biography as:

1. account of somebody’s life: an account of somebody’s life, for example, in the form of a book, movie, or television program, written or produced by another person

2. biographies in general: books about people’s lives, considered as a whole or as a type of literature

This tells us that a biography is a story about a persons life.

Can you write a biography about an animal? Or about a plant?

Will you choose a person, plant or animal to write your biography about?

Many people feel that a biography must be about someone of interest to warrent writting it.

What do you think? Could you write a valuable biography about a boring person?

Your assignment this week is to write a 3 to 5 page biography. Single spaced. You may choose the topic of the biography. Remember we are not doing autobiographies this week so it does need to be someone other than yourself.

To write a good biography you want to study your subject. Learning as much as you can about the subject of your biography.

Once you have decided on the subject of your biography you will want to prepare a word document on your computer to store the information. When you complete each new part you will want to cut and paste your text into the Biography Form.

Prepare a set of questions which you will seek to answer, either by talking with the subject of your biography or by research.

Some possible questions are:
  • what makes the life of the subject of your biography worth reading?
  • what are the lessons best learned that others should know about
  • what culture is the subject part of
  • what is the time period of the biography
  • what do you feel about the subject of the biography

Now that you have determined the questions you will explore, it is time to consult several different sources in order to gather and develop both questions and answers depending on your biography subject.

You will want to consult all of the following:

- A Book
If you can, find one or more printed book in the school library which is devoted to your person. Scan this to see if you can locate information which related to the questions you are exploring. Enter findings in your word processing file under the appropriate question.

- An Electronic Encyclopedia such as World Book
Do a keyword search (not topic search) for your person and read more than the main article. See where they are mentioned in other articles. Summarize key findings and type them into your word processing file.

Once you have collected many good pieces of information about your person, the next step is to combine those pieces in such a way as to cast light upon your questions.

Have you been "recording" the information as you went along?

Have you been sorting your findings so they are lined up under the questions you posed at the beginning?

Now that you have gathered your files . . .

Which information will help support new insights?
Which information has potential?
Which information will be thrown away?

Synthesizing is like moving puzzle pieces about until a picture emerges.

Instead of cardboard pieces, you are moving ideas and facts.

Move forward to Telling the Story.

Some biographies present a long list of details and facts strung out like pants, shirts and socks on a line.

Your job is to take the insights you created in the previous section - Synthesis - and blend them together into a series of well crafted paragraphs which tell the really important stories.