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Activity

The Year I Was Born: An Autobiography Project

 

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The Year I Was Born: An Autobiography Project

Grades 9 – 12
Activity Time Several hours (can be completed over the course of several days)
Activity Author

Susan Spangler

Susan Spangler

Fredonia, New York

 
Publisher National Council of Teachers of English
 

What You Need

Here's What To Do

More Ideas To Try

Glossary

 

What You Need

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Here's What To Do

  1. Teens will be finding out more about their lives with the help of family and friends. To begin, share the details of the activity with the writers and look at sample biographies.
  2. Once they have an idea of the project, teens can interview others about the first year of their life. They should be able to interview several family members about their birth and first year of life as well as look through family photographs, their baby books, and other available resources. Encourage teens to interview several different relatives or family friends, if possible.
  3. If that family and friends are not available to help with the project, teens can research and write about "The Year I Was Adopted," "My First Year of School," or "The Year We Moved." It is a good idea to choose something that happened at least five years ago, since more information will be available online and in library resources for teens to use in their search.
  4. Remind teens that their research and interviews at this stage can focus not only on personal information, but can also include commercials, slogans, movies, books, plays, music, TV shows, and other events in pop culture from the years they were born.
  5. Encourage teens to take notes during their interviews and during their own research.
  6. Help them consult periodicals such as Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report for the week, month, and year they were born.  This research will be more general and may focus on births, deaths, sports news, movies, books, plays, music, financial, national news, international news, religious events, music, and TV shows. If local library resources allow, you can also check local newspapers for community events that the teen can note.
  7. Have teens search for their birth date on the Internet. Many of these sites give information for their birth date throughout history. To narrow to the year they were born, choose only those events that occurred in their birth year. They might use the Web Resources Handout during their research.
  8. Once all of the information has been collected, teens need to decide how they are going to share what they learned.
    • Browse the ReadWriteThink Printing Press to see the formats available. Teens can use this tool to share what was learned.
    • Microsoft Publisher or a word processor offer another option.
  9. When projects are complete, make time to share the finished products.

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More Ideas To Try

  • An option is to research community, regional, state, national, and international events rather than focusing on birth and first year of life.  If you choose this option, place less emphasis on interviewing family members. Because there is a less personal point of view, participants could make a newspaper with appropriate stories of events, giving the project a journalist's perspective.

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Glossary

Research

 

Researching a topic or question can take many different forms, from year-long studies resulting in publication to a quick search of available resources on the Internet. For these activities, we refer to research in the informal sense, using readily available resources (Internet, magazines, books, interviews, etc.) to answer questions.

Point of view

 

The angle from which an author tells a story using characters, events, and ideas. Stories can be told from an omniscient point of view, where the person telling the story sees and knows everything, or from a limited point of view, where the reader only sees, hears, or knows what a certain narrator does. Some stories use different points of view at different points in the story.

Interview

 

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.

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