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Bio-Graph: Graphing Life Events
|Grades||9 – 12|
|Activity Time||Four one-hour sessions—two at home and two with the group|
Fredonia, New York
- Possible Interview Questions
- Graphic Map Interactive
- Graphic Map Interactive Directions (optional)
- Graph paper
- Art supplies (construction paper, markers, glue stick)
- Before beginning the activity with teens, familiarize yourself with the Graphic Map Interactive. Visit the Graphic Map page to learn even more about this tool.
- Print out copies of the Possible Interview Questions to use during the interviewing phase. Gather graph paper and art supplies if you won't have access to the Internet.
- Have young adults interview unfamiliar or distant family members, whom they do not know well. These interviews may last 30 minutes or longer. Interviewers should listen for significant life events that they can later incorporate into biographical pieces on the family members they interview. Getting details is important at this stage.
- Suggest that the interviewers use the Possible Interview Questions handout as a guide for the interviews, but encourage them to follow up on interesting answers with probing questions.
- Have the interviewers make a list of the most important/influential events in their relatives' lives so far, based on their interviews. The events they choose can be happy, sad, or even traumatic at times. Along with each event, ask the interviewers to list the approximate year the event occurred.
- Ask the interviewers to choose up to 10 events and give each one a rating from -3 (extremely negative) to +3 (extremely positive).
- Next, have the interviewers create a visual representation of the information they have gathered, using either the Graphic Map Interactive or graph paper.
- Interviewers can confer with the appropriate relative and choose one event to write about in more detail. With the relative's help, they should write a paragraph or two that includes the details of the event and describes how the event was influential in the relative's life. Interviewers can revise their paragraphs in the group setting and then use the art supplies to display their graphs and paragraphs for the whole group to admire. If there are a group of interviewers, they could read their stories out loud for the rest of the relatives.
- If computers and the appropriate software are available, young adults can use Microsoft Excel to graph the events. Teens can also use the Timeline Tool, adding a rating to each event's description.
- Teens can use the Profile Publisher to create a magazine or online profile for the people they interviewed. See the Profile PublisherTool page for additional help and ideas.
- After reading a book, teens can create bio-graphs for specific literary characters and plot events.
- Biographies of famous people (politicians, entertainers, sports figures) are available on the Academy of Achievement Web site. Young adults could complete a Bio-graph of a famous person from history, entertainment, sports, or popular culture.
While some interviews are formal, informal interviews with family members and peers should be friendly and more casual. Interviewers still need to be prepared with a list of questions that lead to an extended response, not a yes or no answer, and need to record their interviewees’ responses carefully to maintain accuracy and show respect for their answers.
A step in the process of writing something when the person who is writing makes changes to words and ideas. Revising can include adding, changing, or removing words and responding to comments from other readers.