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Lesson Plan

Alphabiography Project: Totally You

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Alphabiography Project: Totally You

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives

Mobile Apps






  • Totally Joe by James Howe

  • Writing materials, such as a writer’s notebook, pens, pencils, etc.

  • Writer’s notebook (optional)

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Alphabet Organizer

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Alphabet Organizer

Students use this online tool to create an alphabet chart or pages for an alphabet book.


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Alphabet Organizer

Grades   K – 5  |  Mobile App  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Alphabet Organizer

The Alphabet Organizer lets users create a calendar-style ABC chart or letter pages for an alphabet book.


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  • Review the book Totally Joe by James Howe, about a boy named Joe who deals with many adolescent issues—friendships, school, and coming to terms about his homosexuality. The book is a follow-up to Howe’s book The Misfits.

  • Decide whether the students will be reading this novel independently, as a read aloud, or in literature circles. This lesson can easily be implemented using one copy of the text as a read aloud. Adjust the lesson plan as needed to match with how the text is shared with the students.

  • Make appropriate copies of the Sample Alphabiography Entry and Alphabiography Self-Assessment.

  • Test the online Alphabet Organizer on your computers or download the Alphabet Organizer mobile app to familiarize yourself with the tools. For this activity, Option 2 on the Alphabet Organizer is the best choice.

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