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Lesson Plan

Writers' Workshop: The Biographical Sketch

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Six 30- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa L. Owens

Lisa L. Owens

Issaquah, Washington


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



While engaging in the processes of researching, writing, and evaluating short biographical sketches, students can master essential writing skills and enhance their content area learning. In this lesson, fourth grade students discuss standard elements in a biography and examine the characteristics of the genre in a workshop setting. After selecting and researching a contemporary or historical figure using online databases, students practice writing short biographies. They then offer feedback on others' compositions and publish final drafts for reading aloud and displaying in class.

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Bio-Cube: Students can use this tool to create a 3-D representation of the biographical information they find.

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Knipper, K.J., & Duggan, T.J. (2006). Writing to learn across the curriculum: Tools for comprehension in content area classes. The Reading Teacher, 59(5), 462470.

  • Content mastery is demonstrated through reading and writing, and integrating the two enhances comprehension.

  • Checklists can have a significant effect on students' performance while "writing to learn." Checklists help take the mystery out of writing by providing students with concrete writing goals and identifying the desired characteristics of the finished work.


McLaughlin, M., & Allen, M.B. (2009). Guided comprehension in grades 3-8 . Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

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