Lesson Plan

Exploring Elements of Biography and Autobiography


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Big Ideas




In this lesson, students will learn the elements of biography and autobiography. Students will:

  • determine what information is included in biographies and autobiographies.
  • identify the text structure used in biographies and autobiographies and explain why it is used.
  • compare/contrast the use of point of view and text structure in biographies and autobiographies.

Essential Questions

  • How do readers know what to believe in what they read, hear, and view?
  • How do strategic readers create meaning from informational and literary text?


  • Author’s Purpose: The author’s intent to inform or teach someone about something, to entertain people, or to persuade or convince the audience to do or not do something.
  • Autobiography: The story of a person’s life written by himself or herself.
  • Biography: The story of a person’s life written by someone other than the subject of the work.
  • Point of View: The perspective from which a story is told or information is presented.
  • First Person: The “first-person” or “personal” point of view relates events as they are perceived by a single character. This character “tells” the story and may offer opinions about the action and characters that differ from those of the author.
  • Third Person: A perspective in literature, the “third-person” point of view presents the events of the story from outside of any single character’s perception, much like the omniscient point of view, but the reader must understand the action as it takes place and without any special insight into characters’ minds or motivations.
  • Text Structure: The author’s method of organizing a text.


45–90 minutes/1–2 class periods

Prerequisite Skills


  • Biography/Autobiography Graphic Organizer (L-6-4-3_Biography Autobiography Graphic Organizer.doc)
  • The following high-interest biographies at various reading levels are appropriate for this lesson and may correlate with other parts of your curriculum. Teachers may substitute other books or materials to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.
    • Henry Ford (Rookie Biographies) by Wil Mara. Children’s Press, 2004.
    • Amelia Earhart (Graphic Biography) by Saddleback Educational Publishing, 2008.
    • A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman by David A. Adler. Holiday House Inc., 1993.
    • A Picture Book of Harry Houdini by David A. Adler and Michael S. Adler. Holiday House Inc., 2010.
  • The following Web sites provide biographies that are appropriate for this lesson:
  • Knots in My Yo-yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid by Jerry Spinelli. Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. This autobiography is appropriate to read to the class.

Additional examples include the following:

  • It Came From Ohio! My Life as a Writer by R.L. Stine. Scholastic Paperbacks, 1998.
  • Bill Peet: An Autobiography by Bill Peet. Sandpiper, 1994.
  • The Abracadabra Kid: A Writer’s Life by Sid Fleischman. Greenwillow Books, 1996.

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