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Lesson Plan

Biographies: Creating Timelines of a Life

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Biographies: Creating Timelines of a Life

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Kathy Egawa

Kathy Egawa

Seattle, Washington


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Studying the lives of others and reading biographies is of interest and value to young learners. In this lesson, students explore multiple sources to create a timeline about the life of a person of their choosing. The experience requires students to work together and to research and resolve potentially conflicting pieces of information about the life they research. Extension activities include developing essays from the original research.

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Interactive Timeline: Use this online tool to help students record events in a selected person's life.

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In order to fill the void in her students' knowledge of people with "admirable qualities," Michele Keating introduced them to the genre of biography. She states: "My objective was to expose students to the many people, past and present, who are worthy of admiration and to explore together the dedication, creativity, and achievements of these people." (66) In the end, the biographical study "broadened their view of people worth admiring." (69)

Biographies can expose our students to a whole world of people who can inspire and motivate them. In this lesson students select their own person of interest and consult multiple sources to get to know them.

This lesson was originally developed with Maggie Chase and Bess Berghoff, Indiana University 1990.

Further Reading

Keating, Michele. "Exploring Charles M. Russell and Others through Biography." English Journal 85.8 (December 1996): 66-69.

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